One of the major issues with the outgoing Subaru WRX STI is its rather outdated turbocharged flat-four motor. This engine has been a constant throughout the cars life cycle since almost the dawn of time itself (or the 1990’s as it’s known as).
When you stand the WRX STI next to its newer and (slightly) more planet-friendly rivals, the Ford Focus RS and the Honda Civic Type R with their newly developed turbocharged powerplants, the flat-four motor looks even more outdated tech.
According to a new report on Dutch car site AutoRAI, Subaru has seen the writing on the wall and agree that a change of direction is desperately needed for any future model bearing the STI name.
Subaru’s European marketing manager David Dello Stritto told AutoRAI that the current 2.5-litre turbo flat-four “can simply not exist in the future.” The report goes on to say that any potential replacement powertrain setup is very likely to be of the plug-in hybrid flavour. All of which sounds like some much-needed progression to us.
One of the biggest problems with major change is time. As in the fact that we likely won’t see a hybrid-powered STI in the next few years until 2020 at least with Dello Stritto stating “the car belongs to Subaru, but there is a period of time when we will not carry WRX STI temporarily.” He also confirms that any new STI badged car won’t lose any of the driving prowess of its predecessors “We're not really giving up on our motto of Fun to Drive. The new Impreza also provides this, but in a different, more environmentally sound way.”
While Dello Stritto didn’t directly come out and confirm the next STI as being a plug-in hybrid, he did state that "Subaru is looking carefully at market developments and makes its future plan with this information in mind”, likely referring to the growing challenge carmakers face in light of ever-tightening emissions regulations. Add to this that several major cities have recently announced deadlines for the blanket ban of conventional powered cars, you get the picture of what Subaru are up against when trying to produce a model like the STI.
Some of you ‘Scobie’ worshippers out there are undoubtedly howling with derision at this news, but before you reach for the black armbands, hear me out. The outgoing WRX STI is a brilliant car; I loved driving it and can vouch for the fact that it’s an utterly capable and very fun thing.
Despite this brilliance, it desperately needs an updating in pretty much every area. Firstly the single digit fuel economy that occurs as soon as you decide to have ‘fun’ with it. Add to this the abysmal CO2 emissions meaning a massive amount of money to tax it, and it quickly begins to lack appeal.
If Subaru decides to give the world an hybrid-electric all-wheel-drive WRX STI, then it means that the model has survived despite the array of regulations saying it should no longer exist.
You could perhaps think of it as a very fast four-door car that takes future tech from the likes of the Porsche 918, but at a more affordable price which can only be a good thing.
What are your thoughts on this potential plan for the WRX STI? Let us your thoughts in the comments.