Subaru Moves One Step Closer to Dropping the Stick Shift

Subaru buyers looking to row their own gears now have one fewer option.


Subaru has announced its updated pricing and trim level changes for the 2020 Impreza. Tucked away in the press release, however, is a bit of bad news for enthusiasts: there’ll be one fewer Subaru manual transmission option available as we move into the 2020 model year.

The sedan version of the Impreza Sport trim will only come with a CVT automatic in 2020. That leaves the hatchback version of the Sport trim as the only trim above the base model to offer a five-speed manual. (The stick shift is also available on both the sedan and hatchback base trims.)

Subaru has been moving away from manuals with haste as it moves to its new global platform. Development costs to add a new manual transmission are high. The take rates for them now are low. They have no place in an “electric” or “electrified” future and prevent universal implementation of Subaru’s EyeSight safety technology.

The Outback, Forester and Legacy have all lost their manual transmission options entirely. Even the base WRX could be CVT-only when the next generation materializes. (These developments should not surprise at a time where even the BMW M3, the ultimate driver’s car, barely kept its stick shift.)

Expect Subaru’s manual transmission to linger, for now. The company will limit it to niche sports cars (WRX STI and BRZ) and budget models (base-model Impreza) where a manual lowers the car’s starting MSRP. But even those rationales may be short-lived.

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