Next Subaru WRX will be the fastest, safest and most comfortable yet.
The Subaru WRX and WRX STI occupied their own niche for about a decade in the US, until the Mitsubishi Evo VIII came along and elbowed its way in. The two battled it out for all-wheel supremacy until the Mitsu took its leave in 2016.
Right on cue the AWD Volkswagen Golf R came along to take the Evo's spot, and shortly after the Ford Focus RS joined in for a few years. But the WRX never wavered, even as the newer sheetmetal and tech outclassed its older development. The last new WRX went on sale in 2014, the first to split from the more relaxed Impreza sedan and hatchback line.
But now new WRXs and STIs are on the way, and from what we've learned from our source at Subaru, they look poised to take their place back on top of the (admittedly smaller) heap.
Let's start with the new platform. The next WRX and STI will ride on Subaru's Global Platform, which the carmaker has previously said has been "engineered with three main objectives in mind: increasing straight-line stability, reducing noise and vibration, and boosting ride comfort." Straight-line speed in the WRX/STI was fine, but boy could it use a reduction in noise, and extra comfort.
The older WRX STIs certainly have charm. The connection to the wind and road through the tin can cabin, the vibration from stick shift that'll make your hand go numb, tech from the Clinton era, but we'll wave goodbye to all of that happily for a planted, solid, quieter ride. If you've been in any of the current Subaru lineup, the new platform has made them all better, even for enthusiasts.
The new platform will go together with a completely new interior. We'll still get a manual in the STI, and either a manual or CVT in the WRX, but it will come with more interior space, more comfortable seats and tech that's from this decade. Our source says that if you look at the new range of Subaru interiors, you'll know what to expect.
As for exterior aesthetics, it will be an evolution. Expect a sedan that looks like a sportier, less concept-like version of the Levorg and Viziv mashed together. Spy shots have been floating around too, which tell an accurate tale. The STI will get a big wing, as per usual. Hopefully Subie keeps the central part of the wing raised, as that made it much easier to spot approaching bogies in the rearview mirror.
Now on to the big one, powertrain. The fans have been crowing for both more power and more efficiency. We're happy to report both will be true. We can't say the WRX will get better gas mileage, but the 2.4-liter turbocharged H4 found in the Outback and a few others will be the engine here and as a self-contained unit, is more efficient than the outgoing model's 268 hp, 258 lb-ft, 2.0-liter turbo H4. We're guessing it'll be around 300 hp for the WRX. The STI is rumored to have about 400 hp, and that seems about right from what our sources are saying.
A couple of you would also love less weight - wouldn't we all - but that's becoming harder every year. And with the full roll of safety features including the driver-assisting EyeSight setup, the next WRX will be heavier than the current model's curb weight of 3,294 pounds.
We also found out that the WRX will continue to be manufactured in Japan - there were a few wishes for local production - and that Subaru has NOT ruled out some form of hybridization in the future. That part is not as shocking as it seems, as no company should rule that out in the modern era.
Finally, and importantly, Subaru has not confirmed that the next WRX and STI will be model year 2022. If it was, we'd see the new road-based rally cars this year. As you can understand, between the pandemic, the microchip shortage and half of the world trade blocked at the Suez Canal, "things are in flux."
If it turns out to be a 2023 model, we probably won't see it until at least early next year, and that is a bummer. But, if the next WRX and STI follow the formula above, which they will, it will be worth the wait.