Questioning Subaru’s ideas for the next generation WRX.Posted: July 25, 2011
Subaru has recently announced that the next generation of WRX and STI will be separate from the Impreza. They have said the WRX line will consist of two door cars and will have 1.6L turbocharged engines. This is in an effort to market the WRX brand as full on sports models, not just a fast version of a mundane sedan. So what should we make of this?
I think it is obvious that the use of 1.6L engines signifies Subaru’s intent on returning to WRC without question. Since it suites such a tangible purpose we cannot really gripe too much about the loss of displacement. However, it will almost surely be a determent to possible power gains from basic aftermarket modifications, and a more costly upgrade to a larger turbocharger, and all that comes with that, will be necessary early on. Obviously though, Subaru doesn’t manufacture their cars purely to cater to tuners, but people will take such issues into account when buying a car so it is at least somewhat important.
As for making the WRX line into an all two door range, I think this suggests that the new WRXs will be the Subaru version of the Toyota FT-86 platform. This is not a bad idea, since offering a sporty, turbocharged coupe along side an Impreza based WRX may cause internal competition. I am just concerned that a switch to a coupe will cause the WRX line to lose much of its well rounded appeal. I have praised the WRX as one of the best cars you can buy because it offers the best overall mix of performance, practicality, reliability, and affordability in one car available on the market. With a coupe it will lose its “normal sedan” practicality, which is really one of the largest appeals to perspective buyers. The current WRX is a car that can be used for anything. If you get rid of that rather unique ability, then it becomes just another sports car, which is certainly a downgrade for Subaru in my opinion. It sacrifices the WRX’s main advantage over other sports cars like the Nissan Z, Ford Mustang, and Hyundai Genesis. Not a good idea at all in my opinion.
With that said I am also of the opinion that the STI model has gone gradually soft since it was brought here in 04. Compromise after compromise has been made and now it is a much fatter car with understeer for safety reasons, not what a hardcore “rally car” should be at all. Because of this I am in complete favor of the WRX line becoming its own lineup so it can be more focused on performance. Maybe if that happens we will finally get that hardcore, on edge STI we have been missing. I still think they should base the WRX line, at least loosely, on the Impreza to keep the practicality though.
With the short list of details we have been given it is hard to make any real claims about the next WRXs, but from the sounds of things I am a bit worried Subaru may screw up the good thing they already have going. I really believe that making the WRXs into coupes will cause them to lose much of their appeal for many buyers. I am all for a coupe version to be added to the existing sedan and wagon lineup, but Subaru seems to have the bad habit of not offering people options, remember back in 2008 when you could only get an STI in a wagon. In 2011 they bring the seadan version back because of high demand, they had clearly been mistaken in 2008, and I think there will be something similar happening here if they don’t watch it.