Subaru Bringing Dynamic Duo to Tokyo Auto Salon

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky
subaru bringing dynamic duo to tokyo auto salon

Subaru is preparing a couple of rather interesting concepts for next month’s Tokyo Auto Salon, which is essentially the Japanese equivalent of SEMA.

With fun passenger cars gradually disappearing from the market, performance-enhanced crossovers are becoming more common. In fact, they could be the next hot industry trend — and Subaru Tecnica International doesn’t want to be caught with its pants around its ankles. As a result, the team will bring an STI-ified Forester and the sort of WRX STI one third of all boxer fans have begged the automaker to build for nearly half a decade.

The Forester features “Fighter Gray” paint and blacked-out, 19-inch aluminum wheels that really help the six-piston Brembo brakes pop. For now, Subaru’s keeping performance specifications on the down low, but did say the crossover would use an “e-Boxer” powertrain.

Typically, that’s a 2.0-liter four-cylinder attached to a hybrid system, borrowed from Toyota, that makes under 150 horsepower. You might be familiar with it in the Crosstrek PHEV, which is only blisteringly quick when compared to a bicycle with a flat tire. However, Subaru says the Forester STI will have a powertrain that’s further refined. Presumably, that means more horsepower. Still, as this is a concept car, specs don’t mean all that much. The flashy Forester is more about showing off modified bumpers, skirts, that slick grille, STI badging, and yellow accents.

Even less is known about the Impreza-based concept. It looks as though Subaru just put an STI bodykit onto the 2.0i five-door and gave it a custom exhaust system, contrasting roof, and Recaro seats. Visually, it’s more or less exactly what enthusiasts have pined for since the WRX hatchback went away. The automaker said it will also utilize the improved e-Boxer setup, which we don’t recall anyone asking for. Subaru has hinted that electrification might play a significant role in the brand’s performance future.

The brand’s clearly testing the waters with these models, so we’re forced to consider them as market research more than a nonverbal promise of eventual production. While there’s definitely a portion of WRX fans clamoring for the wagon, we doubt Subaru will rush a high-performance hatchback to market unless it’s relatively sure it will sell. Mamoru Ishii, head of Subaru’s design department, said such a vehicle wasn’t even being considered earlier this year. As for the Forester STI, we’re more inclined to believe we might see it (or something like it) enter the fray in a few years.

Both cars are scheduled to appear at the Salon on January 11th, hopefully supplemented by more information about their shared powertrain.

[Images: Subaru]

Join the conversation
  • Land Ark Land Ark on Dec 26, 2018

    I'll never understand why VW sells a ton more GTIs than GLIs, but Subaru doesn't think it can sell a WRX hatch. One only has to look at the last gen available with a 5 door to see the re-sale and demand garnered by WRX and STI hatches. Then again, look at the prices of low mile used Rangers and try to explain to me why there is no market for small trucks in the US.

    • FreedMike FreedMike on Dec 26, 2018

      The GTI has 30+ years of heritage to fall back on, for starters. It's also quite a bit cheaper than a GLI, and has been based on a more advanced platform since 2015. I keep hearing there's a next-gen GLI coming. I'm not holding my breath.

  • 28-Cars-Later 28-Cars-Later on Dec 26, 2018

    "performance-enhanced crossovers" Oxymoron.

    • See 9 previous
    • Detroit-Iron Detroit-Iron on Dec 28, 2018

      @FreedMike I met a woman who worked at a tuner shop who had a modded Forester XT, slammed. It was charming in a lowrider meets Fast and Furious kind of way, but it makes no sense to me. Why get a lifted hatch, then lower it?

  • Max So GM will be making TESLAS in the future. YEA They really shouldn’t be taking cues from Elon musk. Tesla is just about to be over.
  • Malcolm It's not that commenters attack Tesla, musk has brought it on the company. The delivery of the first semi was half loaded in 70 degree weather hauling potato chips for frito lay. No company underutilizes their loads like this. Musk shouted at the world "look at us". Freightliners e-cascads has been delivering loads for 6-8 months before Tesla delivered one semi. What commenters are asking "What's the actual usable range when in say Leadville when its blowing snow and -20F outside with a full trailer?
  • Funky D I despise Google for a whole host of reasons. So why on earth would I willing spend a large amount of $ on a car that will force Google spyware on me.The only connectivity to the world I will put up with is through my phone, which at least gives me the option of turning it off or disconnecting it from the car should I choose to.No CarPlay, no sale.
  • William I think it's important to understand the factors that made GM as big as it once was and would like to be today. Let's roll back to 1965, or even before that. GM was the biggest of the Big Three. It's main competition was Ford and Chrysler, as well as it's own 5 brands competing with themselves. The import competition was all but non existent. Volkswagen was the most popular imported cars at the time. So GM had its successful 5 brands, and very little competition compared to today's market. GM was big, huge in fact. It was diversified into many other lines of business, from trains to information data processing (EDS). Again GM was huge. But being huge didn't make it better. There are many examples of GM not building the best cars they could, it's no surprise that they were building cars to maximize their profits, not to be the best built cars on the road, the closest brand to achieve that status was Cadillac. Anyone who owned a Cadillac knew it could have been a much higher level of quality than it was. It had a higher level of engineering and design features compared to it's competition. But as my Godfather used to say "how good is good?" Being as good as your competitors, isn't being as good as you could be. So, today GM does not hold 50% of the automotive market as it once did, and because of a multitude of reasons it never will again. No matter how much it improves it's quality, market value and dealer network, based on competition alone it can't have a 50% market share again. It has only 3 of its original 5 brands, and there are too many strong competitors taking pieces of the market share. So that says it's playing in a different game, therfore there's a whole new normal to use as a baseline than before. GM has to continue downsizing to fit into today's market. It can still be big, but in a different game and scale. The new normal will never be the same scale it once was as compared to the now "worlds" automotive industry. Just like how the US railroad industry had to reinvent its self to meet the changing transportation industry, and IBM has had to reinvent its self to play in the ever changing Information Technology industry it finds it's self in. IBM was once the industry leader, now it has to scale it's self down to remain in the industry it created. GM is in the same place that the railroads, IBM and other big companies like AT&T and Standard Oil have found themselves in. It seems like being the industry leader is always followed by having to reinvent it's self to just remain viable. It's part of the business cycle. GM, it's time you accept your fate, not dead, but not huge either.
  • Tassos The Euro spec Taurus is the US spec Ford FUSION.Very few buyers care to see it here. FOrd has stopped making the Fusion long agoWake us when you have some interesting news to report.