It’s official. A petrol-engined Subaru WRX may be making waves in the US, but the Japanese brand has confirmed there’ll never be a combustion-only WRX STI flagship. It’s the end of a burbling flat-four era that began around three decades ago.
In its statement, Subaru said it’s “exploring opportunities for the next generation Subaru WRX STI, including electrification. In the meantime, a next generation internal combustion engine WRX STI will not be produced based upon the new WRX platform.”
The reasoning behind the decision is straightforward: Subaru says it needs to “evolve to meet the needs of the changing marketplace and the regulations and requirements for greenhouse gases”. In other words, snorting turbocharged engines and gravel-pummelling four-wheel drive don’t exactly result in low emissions.
The news puts paid to the rumours Subaru was benchmarking a ‘last hurrah’ STI engine against the rampant 416bhp Mercedes-AMG M139 powertrain, as found in the A45 S. Codenamed ‘FA24’, it was a 2.4-litre turbo with around 400bhp and brawny 361lb ft of torque, which would have given the STI a power upgrade of around a third. With a 0-62mph time in the four-second range, it would have made for a popcorn-worthy fightback against the latest crop of European mega hatches like the Audi RS3.
Instead we’ll have to wait and see if a hybrid or even a fully-electric WRX STI is in Subaru’s plans, and if it can perform enough like the much-loved rally car for the road to excite enthusiasts. In this scenario, styling is likely to be a blend of the WRX and Viziv Performance STI concept, with deeper and more aggressive bodywork, a large rear wing, a new interpretation of the STI’s famous bonnet scoop and pink highlights for exterior trim and badges.