Subaru Says No WRX STI, Suggests Electric Model

subaru says no wrx sti suggests electric model

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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4 of 17 comments
  • Kosmo Kosmo on Mar 15, 2022

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

  • NG5 NG5 on Mar 15, 2022

    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.

    • See 1 previous
    • Sgeffe Sgeffe on Mar 15, 2022

      @bullnuke They’re what Volvo was fifteen years ago.

  • 285exp I am quite sure that it is a complete coincidence that they have announced a $7k price increase the same week that the current administration has passed legislation extending the $7k tax credit that was set to expire. Yep, not at all related.
  • Syke Is it possible to switch the pure EV drive on and off? Given the wonderful throttle response of an EV, I could see the desirability of this for a serious off-roader. Run straight ICE to get to your off-roading site, switch over the EV drive during the off-road section, then back to ICE for the road trip back home.
  • ToolGuy Historical Perspective Moment:• First-gen Bronco debuted in MY1966• OJ Simpson Bronco chase was in 1994• 1966 to 1994 = 28 years• 1994 to now = 28 yearsFeel old yet?
  • Ronnie Schreiber From where is all that electricity needed to power an EV transportation system going to come? Ironically, the only EV evangelist that I know of who even mentions the fragile nature of our electrical grid is Elon Musk. None of the politicians pushing EVs go anywhere near it, well, unless they are advocating for unreliable renewables like wind and solar.
  • FreedMike I just don’t see the market here - I think about 1.2% of Jeep drivers are going to be sold on the fuel cost savings here. And the fuel cost savings are pretty minimal, per the EPA: fuel costs for this vehicle are $2200 and $2750 for the equivalent base turbo-four model. I don’t get it.