Look no further than the 2018 Nürburgring 24-Hour Race earlier this month, where the WRX STI NBR Challenge 2018 racing car claimed victory in its class for the fifth time and cemented its status as one of the world’s premier turbocharged sports cars with a 2.0-litre or less engine.
The WRX STI is well regarded as a speed demon, but Subaru’s unmatched symmetrical All Wheel Drive is what gave it the edge to rise above the pack and claim the SP3T class. The WRX (World Rally Experiment) and WRX STI are Subaru’s most well known signature performance vehicles, and for good reason.
Subaru’s world-renowned Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive system and their continuously-refined 2.0 litre turbocharged Boxer engine combine to offer truly legendary traction, finesse and speed in an elegant and stylish package. The WRX’s unique design means the Boxer engine sits low and flat in the engine bay, which helps to reduce noise and vibration in the cabin while maximizing a low centre of gravity and traction.
And now it’s looking like Subaru is preparing to up the ante, with rumours saying the next-generation Subaru WRX STI will make a splash in 2020. If reports are to believed, Subaru’s new hybrid 2.0-litre turbo Boxer engine is making its way to the 2019 Subaru Forester, so it would only make sense for this new engine to find another home with the upcoming WRX and WRX STI.
If that’s the case, one could expect the new advanced electric powertrain to give the WRX/WRX STI a significant power boost, going from producing 221kW of power and 407Nm of torque to 250kW/500Nm. Furthermore, the new hybrid engine would naturally reduce emissions, by fully powering the front axle and using an electric motor to drive the rear axle. Regardless of what motor they come equipped with, we suspect the upcoming WRX and WRX STI will sport the company’s new Subaru Global Platform chassis, which is expected to boost the car’s performance by making it lighter with tighter handling and overall improved structure.
Earlier this year, the Subaru Viziv Performance STI Concept was teased at the Tokyo Auto Salon, giving us a taste of what a new rendition of the vehicle may look like. The Vizev (Vision for Innovation) Performance STI sports a menacing look, with sharp angles aplenty, amn aggressive racing-inspired front spoiler, the STI’s ubiquitous aerodynamic contoured rear wing, wheel arches that look as dangerous as the jaw of a great white shark, not to mention a beefy rear diffuser sitting above polished brake lights. The LED headlights, red-accented side skirts and generous STI stamps peppered around the vehicle strike a clear balance between tastefulness and a need to be noticed when on the road.
And while the WRX STI is only offered in a 6-speed manual gearbox, the base WRX also offers the option of coming in an automatic Sports Lineartronic™ Continuous Variable Transmission, which seamlessly changes from a continuous range of gear ratios to maximize pulling power and offer a smooth ride whether on a winding road or country highway.
While some were concerned the manual gearbox would disappear after being dropped on the Legacy Sedan, 2015 Outback and 2019 Forester, Subaru has assured they’ll be keeping the manual transmission for performance cars such as the WRX STI. However, consumers should be aware that cars with the manual gearbox won’t benefit from Subaru’s trademark EyeSight safety system, which is only compatible with the automatic Continuous Variable Transmission. Apart from their performance line of vehicles, Subaru is slowly phasing out the manual gearboxes to ensure compatibility for their EyeSight technology. So for a company with a long history of high-performance manual transmissions, you can bet they’re banking on their EyeSight safety technology to be an industry game-changer if they’re prioritizing it over manual gearboxes.
Speaking of safety - it’s worth keeping an eye on EyeSight. Subaru’s award-winning safety technology literally gives you an extra pair of eyes, and uses radar cameras to identify nearby pedestrians, bicycles and vehicles, as well as their distance, shape and speed of travel. It then uses a series of advanced technologies to reduce collision damage or all together prevent a collision if possible. Some of EyeSight’s other impressive features are its Pre-Collision Braking System, which applies a brake to reduce speed or stop in the face of a collision risk, driving supports such as sway warnings in case of unintended swaying, Adaptive Cruise Control for long trips and Start Alerts for busy traffic. Subaru’s Side View Monitor uses a camera installed on the side door mirror to help check blind spots, while their Rear Vehicle Detection and Emergency Stop Signal has your back covered in the case of a vehicle riding too closely. All of these features coalesce to give Subaru more credibility in its claim of producing the world’s safest performance car.
With a proven track record of excellence and an eye firmly set on a future of innovation, we’re waiting with bated breath to see what Subaru releases in the upcoming WRX/WRX STI. With a new lightweight chassis, advanced hybrid engine and an aesthetic overhaul, the 2020 WRX/WRX STI is well on its way to being meaner and leaner (not to mention greener) than its predecessors. And that’s something to get excited about.