Skip to main content

4 Upgrades You’ll See On The Next-Generation Subaru WRX STI, One You Won’t

Subaru will launch the all-new WRX STI in 2020 but it needs significant upgrades. There are five upgrades that will keep performance fans happy.


Subaru Corp and Subaru Tecnica International (STI) are working on the all-new fifth-generation 2020-2021 WRX STI now and it will get many new improvements. Here are five upgrades performance enthusiasts would like to see. Will fans get what they want, or will they be disappointed when the new STI launches in 2020?

A new turbocharged engine with more hp

A new updated Direct Injection Turbo (DIT) FA20 2.0-liter boxer engine is an option and would get fans excited again. Subaru Tecnica International could easily upgrade the internals, bump up the horsepower (330+) and increase torque and even improve fuel mileage over the aging EJ25 boxer. We know it’s coming with the new Subaru Global Platform with improved driving dynamics, so more hp and torque will work nicely in the new architecture. Subaru Corp will likely drop the EJ25 in favor a new Boxer powerplant which will be the best improvement to the STI they can make.

A new DSG automatic transmission

The 2019 Subaru WRX STI comes with only one gearbox, the 6-speed manual rower. It’s a good transmission for performance enthusiasts, but Subaru could take the performance of the STI up a notch with a new direct-shift gearbox commonly known as a DSG. If Subaru wants to seriously upgrade the performance sedan, they should develop a six-speed variant like VW Golf’s DSG.

The gearbox is capable of ultra-fast shifts that even the most proficient user of a manual rower simply can’t match. The first “dual-clutch” transmissions were developed in-house by Porsche for their 962 racing cars in the 1980s. Since then, VW has perfected the unit. This is the upgrade Subaru won't make because they are committed to the CVT.

It won’t excite performance fans, but Subaru could decide to drop a Sport Lineartronic CVT automatic transmission with paddle shifters in the next-generation model. The Japanese automaker has a goal to be the overall safety leader and all models will need to come standard with their EyeSight driver assist. Subaru engineers have not been able to make EyeSight work with a manual gearbox. Subaru UK boss Chris Graham said: “I’m not sure Eyesight is compatible at all with a manual gearbox. My gut tells me it will be Eyesight with Lineartronic long term.”

Subaru has also said they have designed the WRX STI for one specific market segment. In an interview recently with, Subaru’s WRX project general manager, Masuo Takatsu said the brand’s performance fans “simply aren’t interested” in an automatic in the higher output STI.

Takatsu went on to say, “At this point, we don’t have any plans to release an automatic version as STI customers tend to be more people that are into motorsports, and for those customer bases, we believe a 6MT (six-speed manual transmission) is the best choice.”

A hatchback WRX/STI

We’ve covered bringing back the 5-Door hatch to the WRX STI since it was dropped in 2015, and many performance enthusiasts still want it. Subaru fans want the hatch body style for its greater utility and cargo-carrying ability. The new-generation STI could also use a hatch body style to compete with the new Honda Civic Type R, and Volkswagen Golf R hot hatches. It does have its place in the WRX STI lineup and would make many fans happy. Even though Subaru has not confirmed they will bring back the 5-Door Hatch, we are betting they will.

A new aggressive exterior design

The all-new fifth-generation Subaru WRX STI needs a new exterior design language similar to the VIZIV Performance Concept car introduced at the Tokyo Motor Show shown above. Subaru is great at teasing concepts that are off the chain and then delivering something very generic for the actual production car. Of course, the final production model won’t look exactly like the concept, but it gives performance enthusiasts a good idea of what the designers at Subaru Corporation have in mind for the future direction of the new performance model. Subaru needs to get more aggressive with the new 2020 design.

Updated tech and materials inside the cabin

The 2018 model refresh brought updated cabin materials, but they're still not up to snuff for a car with a price tag that pushes $40,000. Subaru needs to catch up with the Honda Civic Type R and Volkswagen Golf R in terms of materials and design. The back seat is especially sparse, with no power ports or climate control vents for rear passengers. Look for significant upgrades to the WRX/STI interior.

Subaru’s new Subaru Global Platform (SGP) will make a big difference, and the 2020-2021 Subaru WRX STI will get new underpinnings. It will ride on the new more rigid architecture, have an even lower center of gravity, and it could be lighter with the use of carbon fiber parts in the bumpers, fenders, and roof.

Leave your comments below, share the article with friends and tweet it out to your followers!

Follow more Subaru WRX STI news on FacebookTwitter and Instagram

Photo credit: Subaru Corp


Michael trajkivski (not verified)    December 12, 2018 - 10:15AM

New 2020 STI wrx is got to have 400 hp alot more poeple will buy it if they are thinking of 330hp not going to bother buying one they are putting 20 more hp that's nothing cum on Subaru make it 400 pus hp full stop

Ruben Sanchez (not verified)    July 1, 2019 - 3:34PM

In reply to by Michael trajkivski (not verified)

If they don’t have engine options with forged internal components, don’t bother buying. It will be another EJ25 disaster with engines blowing left and right, more class action lawsuits and zero support from Subaru of America. I already had my nightmares with subaru, and after owning six Subaru, I discovered I was playing Russian roulette until I got burned. Fortunately for me, I dumped my latest subaru and moved on. Never thought I would ever say this, but F%^* Subaru. Not as reliable as they claim!

Brian (not verified)    December 12, 2018 - 8:04PM

In reply to by SubaStar (not verified)

Why would they make a hybrid version of a wrx or Sti? That would seriously upset the performance due to the weight increase not to mention a significant price increase. You want a hybrid,get a crossdresser, oh I mean Subaru Crosstrek.

Subercar420 (not verified)    December 12, 2018 - 4:39PM

They need at least 400 hp on the new model plus it should look 79% to the concept with androidauto/apple car play plus not more that 43k for a limited model

John Knapp (not verified)    December 12, 2018 - 4:53PM

Congratulations you managed to outline what all car manufacturers do with new models. (They update them)

Sixto Rivera-Agosto (not verified)    December 13, 2018 - 12:07AM

Subaru should bring back the WRX STI, Legacy Gt and Forester Xt series, and foremost the sti hatchback series. Subaru is loosing ground to the likes of Ford with the ST, Honda with the type R and Volkswagen Golf R. With the technology available these days, vehicles should be more powerful and less expensive. Subaru should aim tor 370+ Hp on a stock engine if they want to beat the market.

Steve c (not verified)    April 21, 2019 - 8:33PM

In reply to by Sixto Rivera-Agosto (not verified)

Bean counters and corporate overlords. Yes them. The Subaru Corp is doing well using their safety first corporate strategy, so I hate to say it but they’re probably going to be as conservative as possible while still going with small updates here and there in performance for the next STI. Love to see the hatch make a comeback. Also it looks like 325-350 is the next target range for this segment. You won’t see 400 hp anytime soon in mainstream for this segment.

Barney (not verified)    December 13, 2018 - 9:20AM

I disagree. It doesn't need 400 hp to compete because there's no competition. Ford RS is gone. No Evo. In terms of hot hatches, you've got the Golf R. And the only thing that has is interior quality. If you're looking for 0-60 times, that's not the STI. Never has been with the way that it's geared. People don't understand that 0-60 has as much to do with power as it does with gearing. 350 hp is sufficient. If they use the FA motor, they will be limited with torque before reliability issues start creeping up. 350 lb ft before rods start bending. Twin scroll turbo will assuage many.

Guillermo (not verified)    December 14, 2018 - 8:55AM

In reply to by Barney (not verified)

In my area we have two STI’s pushing 750-800hp doing 9’s and 10’s in the 1/4.
They’re using stock motors and gearing.

Subaru needs to up the ante and give more HP and Tq out of the box.

When a FWD Honda is keeping up and surpassing new STI, that’s when the manufacturer needs to make a big push.
There’s definitely a market for a 400hp STI.

Red STI (not verified)    December 13, 2018 - 10:28AM

So they’re adding 25hp.
Any STI loving enthusiast would never buy the Automatic upgrade. It literally takes so much away from the experience.
New exterior? Meh
New interior/tech, meh again.
HP and performance is where they need to sink their R&D. A 400hp STI That could easily get modded up to 500hp would place subaru back on top of the heap. Especially since VW, Honda, TOYOTA, Ford... are producing cars that can easily keep up with Subaru and even surpass them.
Why buy another STI when there are so many better options out there right now?

Spec b boy (not verified)    December 13, 2018 - 6:22PM

Why would you want a hybrid sti?

It too bad that they dont make more legacy spec bs. It's the ultimate Subaru product

Mr. White (not verified)    December 14, 2018 - 5:04AM

More likely it'll have the Ascent engine and emphasize torque at lower RPM. Personally I'd prefer an option for the 3.6 liter, 6-cylinder engine.

Subaru Rally Racer (not verified)    December 14, 2018 - 5:30AM

I hope they put the electric turbo they patented years ago to spool the turbo quicker than using exhaust gasses.

JL (not verified)    December 18, 2018 - 12:41AM

>Takatsu went on to say, “At this point, we don’t have any plans to release an automatic version as STI customers tend to be more people that are into motorsports, and for those customer bases, we believe a 6MT (six-speed manual transmission) is the best choice.”>

The above comment alone is enough to convince me to buy the next STi. Screw those CVT/tiptronic/DSG craps.

JOSHUA CIARDELLI (not verified)    January 15, 2019 - 4:45PM

In reply to by JL (not verified)

THIS, I'm so tired of reading "automatics are faster why would you want a manual." Maybe because I like feeling engaged with the road? I enjoy the feel of a clutch, it's all I've driven for 16 years (32 here) and I will NEVER give money for an automatic, EVER. Don't give AF which is "faster"

Carlos (not verified)    January 1, 2019 - 10:12PM

The new STi doesn't need 400Hp, 350Hp and a bit of a weight reduction using aluminium and composites along with retaining the 6MT and looking like the concept car would do it for me. 400Hp would have reliability issues unless they took the 3.0R 6 cylinder and added a couple of turbos.

Steven (not verified)    February 14, 2019 - 7:03PM

In reply to by Carlos (not verified)

3.0 inline 6 with twin turbos would be really quick but the sound and the throttle response are gone with that platform . I think if they use the new FA24 like they have on the new Subaru SUVS this motor would perform well with 340hp

Scott P. (not verified)    January 9, 2019 - 3:09PM

I've spoken with a regional Subaru engineer who had some insight as to what has been the word at Subaru of America in regards to the 2020 STI.

1. The 2020 STI unveil will most likely be in mid summer 2019 and delivery of 2020 models to the dealership will be around May to June 2019. However, word has also been reported the 2020 sti will not be at dealerships until late December 2019.

2. Two projected engine models are spoken of. 1. the JDM EJ20 2.0l with a twin scroll turbo - currently in production in Japan for subarus S200's STI models as well as the projected Engine in the US S209 STI that arrives in late January 2019, The second is a FA24 2.4l motor. Both motors, which ever is chosen to be used in the production model, is said to only have around 330-340hp and the Subaru engineer said "Don't expect more".

3. He said that you can get a general idea of what the 2020 STI interior will look like, He said look at the current 2019 Crostreck or Forester which both sit on Subaru's new global platform. He said the interior design and materials in those 2 vehicles will cross over in to 2020 STI and WRX and just about every 2020 Subaru model.

4. He also said you can get a general idea of what the 2020 STI and WRX body base design will be modeled off of. He said look at the current 2019 impreza sedan, not the hatchback. That impreza body design will more than likely be the foundation of the STI and WRX body

ziad sultan (not verified)    March 14, 2019 - 3:41AM

Pretty simple new WRXSTI should have 350hp+ and torque of the range 320-338........... for this car to be competing with newer models ...

Engine is to be updated for sure too

Doug (not verified)    April 5, 2019 - 9:04PM

Same old thing we have been hearing for 3 years now. We are still waiting too. To temporarily pacify enthusiastic fans we got an RA model with nothing special or different ....just a super high price. Hey were getting the s209 that Japan has had for years. These are all temporary fixes but not the change we are waiting for. 335 hp? So what?, everybody else has got a lot more to offer. Come on Suburu.....your fans are waiting.

Leonard Smart (not verified)    June 2, 2019 - 12:01AM

Why is Subaru having problems with the boxer engine,maybe the should send a team to Porsche which also uses a boxer engine that put out a lot more hp then there's maybe they might learn some thing,up grading some internals will go towards even maybe closed deck done in production would go to keeping cost down come on Subaru you are better then this

Andre (not verified)    August 14, 2019 - 11:41PM

Subaru!!! If you ran something like the 4g63 or even 4b11 from Mitsubishi, that would be a win! Yes sti is well known for boxer motors but an in-line would be So reliable. Could you imagine if they partnered with Mitsubish and brought back the 4g63 with the sti trans and driveline. That whole ringland failure is killing sales for you guys. I honestly won’t buy a sti unless they start doing closed deck and or high quality forged internals