Don't Worry, the Next-generation WRX Will Keep Its Manual Transmission
When Subaru launched the fifth-generation Impreza with a CVT, a collective sigh of relief was heard after enthusiasts learned it would still provide a standard five-speed manual transmission. However, it didn’t guarantee that the next incarnation of the WRX wouldn’t abandon the clutch pedal to maximize sales and minimize zero to 60 times.
After all, most people don’t purchase manual transmission vehicles anymore and the WRX already comes with a CVT. It would be easy for the automaker adopt a dual-clutch as a pricier option on sporting Subarus and leave the variable tranny in the base trim. Nobody was so worried about it that they lost sleep on the matter, but there was just enough doubt to have us all occasionally wringing our hands.
However, thanks to the not-quite-bulletproof history of the dual-clutch design and a keen awareness of their consumer base, Subaru is sticking with the manual. Masahiko Inoue, project manager for the Impreza, confirmed the performance versions of the model will persist with the now-antiquated technology many of us prefer.
The assertion was confirmed by Subaru Australia’s managing director Colin Christie, who claimed the brand has specific models with an obvious need for the manual transmission. “You look at products like the WRX and the STI — the STI is a manual-only model — we’d expect that to continue into the future,” he explained to Wheels. “The WRX now has a CVT and a manual, and the sales are about 60 percent CVT now to 40 percent manual.”
While the transmission bias is likely to be skewed more in favor of the automatic in North America, ditching the clutch pedal would almost guarantee certain prospective buyers would do their shopping elsewhere. The WRX is one of the few models left on the road that draws in driving enthusiasts who want to do the shifting themselves. Its current CVT isn’t abysmal but the consensus among most avid drivers is that the six-speed provides the superior setup. There aren’t a great many vehicles like that still populating dealer lots.
However, the manual may not last forever. Christie admitted to being surprised at the number of people, specifically young men, willing to purchase the WRX with a continuously variable transmission. “A lot of people who come in and [test drive] the manual and the CVT are choosing the CVT,” he said. “I’d imagine that over time you’d see more and more automatic-based or CVT-based product in the market.”
Thankfully, buyers will still have a choice with the Global Platform-based WRX — whenever it decides to show its ugly face.
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I don't think it's a question about preferring a CVT, I would think that's out of the question for most enthusiasts. The real question is if a dual-clutch WRX/STI would be preferred; I think Subaru has applied that tech or something similar in their rally cars. I'm an engineer and, for one, I think the dual-clutch system is the way of the future and would be welcome by enthusiast. You keep a manual-type transmission, exchanging a stick and clutch system for paddles that take a lot less effort and are, seemingly, much easier to use. Also, tranny problems are less because it's a safer system. The experiment should be Subaru selling a dual-clutch system, sayyy...on the STI, then see how enthusiast like it. When the thing suceeds, then the WRX will have it, and the stick-clutch could be a special option, as I'm sure the dual-clutch will take over.