There is a lot of heated discussions regarding the recent Subaru statement and their decision to ‘discontinue’ the WRX STI. Press statements aren’t always straightforward and that’s why we will try and dissect this statement from Subaru.
“A next generation internal combustion engine WRX STI will not be produced based upon the new WRX platform.”
- Could mean there will be no WRX STI in this generation of VB WRX, and the 2022 WRX will be the only model sold in the Subaru performance range. The last WRX lifecycle lasted 7-8 years, meaning there will be no STI till 2029.
- Could also mean the new WRX STI will not use the FA24 drivetrain, meaning it will be sold alongside the WRX but as a standalone model. Like S-Class vs EQS, a bit extreme but you get it. Here it would be electrified, meaning while the WRX is a full combustion engine, the WRX STI would become a hybrid model with the most extreme option being a full electric model.
- Subaru listened to the negative feedback on the new WRX and have decided to fully redesign the next generation WRX STI including the powertrain and body style which would likely warrant a platform change…hatchback anyone? Would make perfect sense, this segment of performance cars is filled with hot hatches and select sedans like the Audi S3/RS3 sedan, Audi can easily get away with sedans and wagons because they get it right. Hot hatches are quite popular now and we have even seen a new form of design deviation from the common Golf GTI styling to a new coupe-inspired liftback styling as seen on the Hyundai i30N Fastback.
“Subaru Corporation is exploring opportunities for the next generation Subaru WRX STI, including electrification.”
- Electrification could mean full electric or just a hybrid engine.
What they should have done with the WRX:
- Give the new WRX enough power, 280-300hp and at least 400nm torque. The Previous WRX S4 from Japan was already rated at 296hp and 400nm, why reduce it now?
- Offer 6 Speed Manual and DCT, ditch CVT. If Honda can make a DCT, so can Toyobaru. That’s it, everything else can be fixed including the grim looks.
What they should do with the STI:
- Since the FA24 will not work. Get a 2.0L with a mild hybrid (48v) like what everyone is doing. Solves the emission problem a little bit. Output here to be within the 330-350hp. 400hp was just unrealistic, that’s what people wanted but this is Subaru, the most stingy car maker.
- If a mild hybrid is not viable, go full hybrid. A 1.5-2.0L turbo with an electric motor. It could even be a version of the 1.6L turbo-3 engine from the GR Yaris paired with one electric motor for a total of 350hp including the combustion engine. That would be a bit heavy though…and that extra power just makes up for the added weight and not exactly an improvement over the previous model. I’m starting to see why they are giving up😅.
- Do what Toyota did with the new Supra + BMW, joint development with another car maker to improve on the shortcomings. Or do another joint project like the BRZ vs GR86 except now it will be a GR Corolla sharing components with a new STI hatchback. This would support Subaru’s statement “the next WRX STI will not be produced based upon the new WRX platform.”. Meaning, it will not be a sedan? It will be a hot hatch? Maybe😋
- Lastly, and this one is far fetched. What if Subaru decides to go back to WRC? We are now in the hybrid era in WRC, that means they would need a hot hatch powered by a 1.6L I4 turbo with an electric motor rated at 134hp for a total of 500hp+ including the engine. Hear me out… For the road going car, Subaru would create an STI hatchback powered by a 1.6L turbo-3 or turbo-4 engine + one electric motor for a total output of 400-430hp (detuned from the rally spec).
- Continuing from the previous point, Subaru doesn’t join WRC but uses Toyota’s involvement in WRC to create a new STI hot hatch powered by the same hybrid engine found on the new GR Yaris Rally1 hybrid rally car. So, a 1.6L turbo-4 engine with one electric motor and an output of 400-430hp, again detuned from the rally spec. Making the WRX a sedan and the WRX STI a hatchback.
Other possibilities that have been popular among car makers:
- The next WRX STI is discontinued indefinitely, and raised back from the dead as a full EV performance SUV. Almost similar to what Ford is doing with the Mustang Mach E, though to be fair a real Mustang is still sold alongside this full EV crossover.
- Subaru waits for the market to shape up properly, whether around hybrids or full EVs, and once they have a definitive study then they relaunch the STI. This would mean the earliest WRX STI would come in 2030.