Subaru unveiled the next-generation WRX to mixed reactions from rally fans and enthusiasts. On the one hand, the stiffer architecture and a rear stabilizer bar mounted to the body rather than the sub-frame of the 2022 WRX are surefire ingredients for better handling, a more comfortable ride on smooth tarmac, and a more direct driving feel. It also comes with track-tuned suspension out of the box, a subtle nod to the WRC-conquering DNA inherited from its glorious Impreza-based forefathers.
Hardcore Impreza fans, on the other hand, were immediately put off by the new WRX’s rugged styling. We wouldn’t mind the new WRX’s tacky, plastic body cladding if the steering was more communicative to driver inputs, as Slashgear’s Victoria Scott discovered during her first drive of Subaru’s sportiest four-door sedan. Still, the much-anticipated STI variant of the new WRX, a genuine fire-breathing, rally-ready variant dressed in World Rally Blue paint and STI Gold wheels, all riding on the new WRX’s Subaru Global Platform, is the center of attention.
It all sounds good, but an all-new WRX STI could be a pipe dream. Are you ready for an all-electric STI, or does nothing beat a Boxer engine, symmetrical all-wheel drive, and a six-speed manual stick?
Subaru scraps the new WRX STI
The rumor of a new WRX STI became so widespread that Subaru issued an official press release to address the issue, and the news isn’t good. Subaru is “focused on how our future sports and performance cars should evolve to meet the needs of the changing marketplace,” according to the company. Furthermore, Subaru is concerned about CAFE (Corporate Average Fuel Economy) and greenhouse gas regulations, which are possibly the main reasons why the automaker is hesitant to release a new STI.
To put all rumors to rest, Subaru announced that it will not produce a next-generation WRX STI based on the automaker’s Subaru Global Platform. However, Subaru recognizes that the WRX and STI branding are part of its storied and illustrious heritage, so it is investigating electrification to explore the future of the STI (Subaru Tecnica International). This is good news if you want to drive an electric rally car; bad news if you’ve been putting off buying a new WRX because you’re waiting for a new STI.
When viewed from a different perspective, an electrified WRX STI is not far off. Subaru’s Solterra electric crossover is already on its way to dealerships after multiple delays, according to Torque News, and its e-Subaru Global Platform (shared with Toyota and the bZ4X electric SUV) is ready for some STI magic. Subaru also unveiled a STI concept version of the Solterra in January at the 2022 Tokyo Auto Salon, along with an opulent STI E-RA electric sports car that Subaru is developing to break the current Nürburgring lap record. The STI E-RA (Electric-Record Attempt) is a “motorsport study” of a future STI concept, according to the Japanese automaker.
Subaru will not be producing a STI version of the new WRX, but this does not mean the end of the STI. It could return with a bang and possibly a new lap record under its belt before you know it.