Subaru’s New WRX and STI May Arrive Next Year, But With a Controversial Change

A rumor says Subaru will debut a new WRX in 2020.

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Subaru is overhauling its model lineup. We’ve seen cars like the Forester and the Outback convert to Subaru’s global platform in recent years. One exception to all the changes: the WRX and STI, last heavily updated for the 2014 model year. (It’s actually still based on the previous-generation Impreza.) Subaru’s long period of sporty complacency may be about to end, though: According to a rumor from Japan found by Motor1, a new WRX could arrive in late 2020 — but with significant changes.

The rumor would have the WRX moving to the new global platform, which should make the WRX stronger and lighter. WRX engines would also downsize. The base model would drop from a 268-horsepower 2.0-liter turbocharged flat-four to a 270-hp 1.8-liter turbo boxer-four, while the WRX STI would go from a 310-hp 2.5-liter to a 320-hp 2.0-liter boxer-four.

Another controversial change would be transmission-related: The base model WRX would only get a CVT, according to this report, while the STI would continue to come exclusively with a six-speed manual.

We should treat theses rumor with appropriate skepticism. (Especially the gearbox one; unlike other Subarus that have shed their stick shifts, the WRX has an exceedingly high manual take rate.) But the timeline and changes proposed seem plausible. The new global platform and more efficient engines are givens, whether the change happens next year or 10 years down the road. And while we might hate the heresy, it would make sense for Subaru to want more WRX drivers to opt for the CVT. That would permit its Eyesight safety system to be included on those models; WRX drivers are the drivers most likely to be caught speeding or to be involved in an accident, so that might help make the model a bit safer.

Reserving the STI model for enthusiasts who want the six-speed would also be a smart compromise. It’s a similar approach to the one BMW is taking with the M3.

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