By on March 14, 2022

When Subaru announced the latest WRX sedan, it was made perfectly clear that it would arrive without the high-performance STI variant metaphorically in tow. After attempting to push performance versions of the Impreza sedan into becoming their own thing for years, the 2022 model year saw the WRX jumping onto the Subaru Global Platform. This resulted in a more mainstream vehicle we assumed would need additional time in the relevant skunkworks garage before it could reemerge as the aggressive, rally-inspired, no-nonsense WRX STI.

But Subaru is now saying that there won’t be an STI for this generation. According to the manufacturer, “future sports and performance cars should evolve to meet the needs of the changing marketplace and the regulations and requirements for greenhouse gasses (GHG), zero emissions vehicles (ZEV), and Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE).”

That means environmental regulations have effectively killed the STI as we know it. Though we imagine the automaker probably could have made it work. The current WRX saw its displacement upsized by nearly 20 percent, so it doesn’t seem wholly ridiculous to assume Subaru could have designed a juiced-up version of that car without offending government regulators. But the manufacturer has said it’s better to focus on electrification, citing the automotive industry’s overt push to sell more EVs and alleged environmental stewardship.

From Subaru:

As part of that effort, Subaru Corporation is 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 Subaru WRX STI and the STI brand represent the zenith of Subaru’s performance vehicles exemplifying Subaru’s unique DNA and rally heritage. As we look to the future, we also look forward to incorporating the essence of STI into our next generation of vehicles.

However, it still feels like there’s some gaslighting afoot. The automaker’s singular electrified model is the plug-in-hybrid variant of the Crosstrek and it has no battery electric vehicles to speak of, at least not until the subcompact Solterra SUV (co-developed with the Toyota bZ4X) arrives later this year. This time last year, Subaru was also stating that the WRX and STI would be the very last models in Subaru’s lineup to undergo electrification.

Heck, there were numerous credible leaks suggesting the STI would get the same FA24 2.4-liter direct-injection turbocharged Boxer engine as the new WRX — just with 395 horsepower and noteworthy bumps in efficiency. While the brand had endured numerous delays in development, those were attributed to working through COVID restrictions with the overarching plans going unchanged.

Now, Subaru is suggesting it’s better to ax the STI sedan to focus on efficiencies as it simultaneously discusses using Subaru Tecnica International to add performance to the rest of its lineup. But this just leaves us with more questions. Will the STI badge denote tangible improvements in physics or simply become an appearance package? Numerous brands have done this already by creating cosmetic focused variants that sit below genuine performance options while still leaning on the relevant badging (e.g. Ford’s ST-Line or Hyundai’s N-Line). Will the proposed STI-Line be exclusive to all-electric models, adhering to Subaru’s earlier statements about the importance of zero-emission vehicles, or will they also encompass internal combustion models?

Maybe this is all just a coy way of suggesting the WRX STI will soldier onward using the current platform until an entirely new model has been designed as a hybrid/BEV or it simply changes its mind. Subaru is being extremely cagey on the matter, so it’s really anybody’s guess at this point. Feel free to speculate in the comments as I continue losing interest in this company.

[Image: Subaru]

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17 Comments on “Subaru Says No WRX STI, Suggests Electric Model...”

  • avatar

    The STI has minimal importance to current day Subaru’s portfolio so putting much investment into it (whether ICE or EV) is unnecessary.

    That said, a higher output WRX (which already exists with an ICE) with a more aggressive AWD system doesn’t seem like a big investment.

    However, I would be annoyed if I was a customer that didn’t buy a last gen STI with the expectation that there would be an amazing all-new one coming soon. With the EV Revolution going on it would be a good courtesy if manufacturers were more open about their future plans on enthusiast vehicles.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    “Maybe this is all just a coy way of suggesting the WRX STI will soldier onward using the current platform until an entirely new model has been designed as a hybrid/BEV”

    No way they electrify the ICE platform – too many compromises to make. Even a hybrid has compromises since you still have the ICE present.

    What Subaru wants is a lifted Tesla Model Y Performance with a Subaru badge and knobbies, with some love/dog advertising.

    • 0 avatar
      John R

      This. With my tinfoil hat on I’ve reached the supposition that the plastic body cladding on the 2022 WRX was a low key vibe check to see if regular WRX buyers might be ok with a CUV-ification of the WRX. Think Honda Crosstour, Buick Regal TourX, but smaller, more power, and more Subaru.

      I have no doubt Subaru’s managers would love to have that car under less stringent emissions and fuel econ standards while at the same time enjoying the larger margins that come with CUV/SUVs. smh.

  • avatar
    Land Ark

    The final nail in the coffin of Subaru being the enthusiast’s go to for interesting and dynamic cars.

    I won’t be darkening the doorstep of any Subaru dealer (except maybe the parts department as I keep mine going) anymore. And Subaru will shed not a tear for it. Enjoy the profits, thanks for being cool for a while.

  • avatar

    I’d bet emissions had zero to do with it. Nobody else has had any trouble souping up turbo engines recently, as Mercedes, BMW, VW and GM have shown.

    Much more likely that Subaru wanted to ditch the heavy-duty six-speed manual and Variable Torque Drive center differential unique to the STI. They got rid of the automatic VTD version for the 2016 six cylinder cars and put in the ancient inexpensive MPT AWD system same as the regular cars. The WRX makes do with the ancient five/six speed manual (which first saw light as a four speed in the 1970s) and CVT from the Atlas/Outback.

    Who knows what pressures like chip shortages, lower sales and what have you turned Subaru into yet another electrify-for-glory PR outfit? I actively dislike the current Subaru line-up, just perambulating nonentities for non-thinkers.

    • 0 avatar

      @Connundrum – I think that’s about right. Manufacturers are repriortizing to fulfill inventory for volume vehicles. Tried finding a Veloster N lately? I doubt that you would hear Subaru say they’re going to axe the Outback for emissions concerns, right?

      In this day of chip shortages and high prices for lower engineering vehicles, the niche STI is really not a needed product, especially with the WRX, which is now more mainstream and poised for higher volume from buyers who want a Crosstrek with a little more pop.

    • 0 avatar

      but theyre the coolest cars to put anime stickers in the windows

  • avatar

    The 22′ BRZ is so incredibly good and the decisions Subaru has made with the new WRX are quite bad. It’s weird.

    It makes me think Toyota was the real driving force behind the BRZ despite every part in the thing being stamped Subaru.

  • avatar

    No need to worry.

    All we need is Acura to have an Integra Type S with SH-AWD, which will have the benefit of better fit and finish, and better reliability.

  • avatar

    Maybe Subaru was expecting to do better fuel efficiency with the new larger displacement engine, not marginally worse like we saw. After all, Legacy Turbo does 27mpg combined with the same engine. When the actual numbers came out, Subaru needed to recalculate the economy of things.

    That, and the automatic braking requirement for all new models post November 2021 in Japan meant zero chance of releasing the car in the home market (unless they stick CVT in the STI as well). I’m guessing they were hoping to release the car before that window, but COVID struck.

    Oh well, maybe we can hope Subaru engineers can do magic with the Toyota Hybrid System they have inside Crosstrek PHEV for a fun and fuel efficient hybrid STI.

  • avatar

    Dear Subaru: Please replace the STi with a hatchback “normal” WRX.

  • avatar

    Subaru seems to be making the appliance-consumer-only pivot that Toyota recently turned away from, without having Toyota’s reputation for reliability. Interesting to see when even VW, Honda, and Toyota are sort of trying to revive some enthusiasm. And other manufacturers are moving into the soft-roader AWD space so fast.

    Will be interesting to see if it works for them. The 86 is the only remaining car I’d consider that might have some interaction with the brand, and I’d probably get that serviced at an independent mechanic and buy it from Toyota. I want to like Subaru for AWD and fun rally history but I am not ever going to buy inefficient appliance vehicles that run a CVT.

    • 0 avatar

      Sadly,this is where Subaru is headed – toward the appliance consumers in New England and the Northwest. Subaru also has not been doing well with systems on their new appliances lately – the entertainment systems do not seem to be working out well with everything integrated into them to save pennies for HVAC system buttons and knobs and needing to update or replace entire units due to poor reliability. A shame but somewhat predictable in this brave new green world. All of that being said, Subaru’s changes will never, ever drive me toward a company with obnoxious pop-up videos. You know who they are – the company with the bean wearing a sombrero for a trademark.

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