How can this chunk of aluminum possibly have any affect on my Subaru WRX’s shifting? That was my first reaction when I read about the Perrin Shifter Stop for my WRX. Basically, it bolts in next to the shift lever and blocks it from moving too far to the left. That’s it. A $43 piece of metal for that.
The 2015+ WRX shifter isn’t bad. The 2014 shifter was – in fact it completely ruined the driving experience of an otherwise good car for me. But I’ve been spoiled by owning many cars with excellent shifters – my Subaru BRZ and three Miatas, among them. So going from my BRZ to my WRX was a bit of a change. The throws were longer, which I expected, but there was also a fair amount of side-to-side slop in many of the gears, which annoyed me. That, plus the massive improvement in shifter feel in our VW Jetta thanks to 42 Draft Designs‘ bushings, inspired me to investigate options for improving the WRX’s shifter.
A short shifter was out of the question. My wife was unable to drive my BRZ due to the effort it took to shift actually causing her pain. Before buying the WRX I had her try the shifter, and confirmed that it wouldn’t cause her the same problem. I don’t want to modify it in a way that will bring the problem back. This led to me discovering the Perrin Shifter Stop. I already described my skeptical first impression of it. But further research told a different story. Every review and forum post I read about it said that the difference was night and day for the better. Many recommended it as the first modification you should make to your 2015+ WRX, even above the Cobb Accessport. I watched Subispeed’s detailed install video, and the way this worked began making sense to me.
Although the middle gears, third and fourth, are pretty tight, there’s a little extra slop in fifth and sixth, and a lot of extra slop in first and second. Perrin’s idea is nothing new – in fact, the car already comes with a similar shifter stop for fifth and sixth from the factory. Now I was beginning to see where Perrin got the idea. With proper adjustment, Perrin claims just .12″ of play in every gear, not just third and fourth. Finally, when I saw that Perrin had this on sale for 10% off, I decided to give it a try.
The box includes not just the aluminum block, but longer bolts to replace the ones already holding in the factory shifter stop for fifth/sixth gear, and two washers to install along the sides of the shifter. We’ll get back to those later. Installation is quite simple – unscrew the shift knob, pull up the plastic trim around the shifter boot, and pull it off to expose the shifter itself. Remove the two 10mm bolts that hold the factory shifter stop in place. Place the Perrin part on top of it, then install the two Allen bolts that Perrin provides, along with an Allen wrench, conveniently. The trick is the adjustment. Before tightening the bolts, move the shift lever into fifth gear, push the factory shifter stop right up against it, then wiggle the lever ever so slightly to make a little space. Shift to first gear, do the same thing to put the Perrin stop into position, then tighten down the bolts. It took me a few tries to get both sides adjusted the way I wanted them – not too tight, not too loose, and allowing the selection of all gears. It took a little time but was not difficult.
Additionally, two 7mm nuts on the left side of the shifter need to be removed, and the supplied washers added between the nuts and the shifter. These parts are tiny, and prone to falling deep within the bowels of the center console. Perrin warns you to be careful of this, and that you might want to have a magnet on hand to prevent this from happening. Unfortunately, despite Perrin’s warnings and my telescoping magnet tool, I managed to drop the first washer and was unable to retrieve it. I decided to reassemble the shifter without them. I wouldn’t get the maximum benefit of the Perrin kit, but would it be good enough?
In a word, YES! After reassembling everything I took a quick test drive, and the transformation was just as amazing as the internet had told me. The shifter no longer betrays the WRX’s economy car roots in the Impreza. It’s properly sporty in its own right. The throw and effort are unchanged, of course, but it feels much higher quality than before due to the precision that both shifter stops provide when properly adjusted. It’s not as short and crisp as my BRZ’s shifter was, but that’s OK – and, when it comes to my wife’s ability to drive the car, it’s actually a positive attribute. I’ve been able to modify the shifter to my satisfaction without introducing problems that will make it difficult for my wife to drive. If anything, it should be even easier for her to find gears now.
It’s a toss up whether the WRX or the Jetta has the better shifter at this point. They’re both excellent for cars whose shifters aren’t directly connected to the transmission like the BRZ or Miata. It also proves that you don’t need to spend a lot of money on a short shift kit to transform your shifter feel and performance. Both modifications to the Jetta and WRX cost between $35-40 and made a profound difference. In a manual transmission car your hands generally touch the shifter more than anything except the steering wheel. The 2014 WRX’s stock shifter ruined that car for me. The Perrin shifter stop in my 2015 WRX completes the improvement it needed. The car should come this way from the factory.