By on December 26, 2018

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]

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