News broke late last week that the new Subaru WRX would not be getting an STI counterpart. The company announced it was exploring its options for a next-generation model, with electrification likely on the table. Making a new one now wouldn't make sense, a Subaru spokesperson told Road & Track.
"If we designed [a new STI] now, it would have a very limited shelf life,” Subaru Director of Corporate Communications Dominick Infante said. "The regulations are changing so quickly that it kind of wouldn’t make any sense."
This comes at a time when many automakers have publicized their intentions to cease further development of internal combustion engines. Subaru may have good reason to be cautious about putting its flagship performance model on the line without having a clear picture of the future. After all, the company is just now launching its first fully electric vehicle, with the help of Toyota. Subaru has a lot on its plate, but this isn't the end of the STI name.
"The STI brand still exists," Infante said, noting that Subaru had unveiled the STI E-RA concept this year in Tokyo. The name is also used on some Japanese domestic market cars, like the Levorg STI Sport. It's just the WRX STI that's on pause for this generation.
Infante could not say when the next STI would arrive. But when it does, it won't be based on this generation of WRX. The last generation of WRX lasted for seven years on the market, but Infante noted that compliance for a lower-output car is often simpler, making a shorter lifespan is easier to justify. We'll have to wait to get more details from Subaru, but expect the STI to return eventually with hybrid or EV power.
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