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Subaru WRX/STI Sales Head South: Is There a Problem?

The 2016 Subaru WRX STI takes a big slide backward for May. Are buyers waiting for new upgrades or are there deeper problems?

Up until now, news for the 2016 Subaru WRX/STI has only been positive. May saw the first downturn in sales and it was big drop. Sales for WRX/STI slipped almost 20 percent. With the 2017 Subaru WRX STI making its dealer launch in June, it will be interesting to see if May’s sales slump for the 2016 models is just a blip on the screen.

What happened in May?

In April, WRX/STI led the the percentage of sales increase for the entire lineup with a jump of 14.1 percent over the previous. Last month (May), WRX/STI dropped 19.6 percent over the previous year’s sales. Only the BRZ sports coupe had less sales over the previous year with a big 36.8 percent drop. BRZ has been slipping for over a year now. WRX/STI sales have only been up since the new-generation performance sedans launched in 2014. Does the slide backward suggest problems?

A temporary blip?

It could be a supply issue for Subaru Japan as they make the model change from 2016 to 2017. The new 2017 WRX STI performance sedans will arrive in showrooms this month (June) in North America. Five new upgrades are coming for Subaru’s 2017 performance models. You can read about the new upgrades here.

Still the best performance value

The WRX/STI is still the best value on the market for performance enthusiasts. The sales slump is likely just a blip on the screen and when the 2017 models arrive, sales will jump back up. All Subaru models are suffering because Subaru can’t produce them fast enough. Indiana’s factory production capacity will come online later this year and it will help supply issues as it takes pressure off Subaru’s Gunma factory.

The only model in the lineup that saw record sales in May was the Subaru Crosstrek crossover. It was the best May ever for the Crosstrek hatchback. The Subaru brand is still growing and May was another overall record month and the 54th consecutive month of sales increase.

The new-generation Subaru WRX/STI has seen increases every month until now. Will the 2017 Subaru WRX and WRX STI keep the momentum moving forward? BRZ gets seven new upgrades for 2017. Is the WRX/STI next in line for an engine overhaul? Stay tuned.

Source: Subaru

Image source: Subaru


Stu (not verified)    June 2, 2016 - 4:03PM

I think the problem is in supply, not demand. I was looking for a WRX in Canada in May and there are so few in the country that dealers aren't willing to give them up so unless they already had the exact model in stock they couldn't get one.

Dan (not verified)    June 2, 2016 - 9:14PM

In reply to by Stu (not verified)

Agreed, there are no cars to sell. I was looking for a last run 2016 STI, but ended up ordering a 2017, the 2nd of May, they are saying I won't see it till July... 10-12 weeks wait here in the US. Ha!

B.P. (not verified)    June 4, 2016 - 1:04PM

In reply to by Dan (not verified)

you're lucky. i was told 5-6 MONTHS before I could get the particular STI model I wanted here in Canada, and they told me I needed to put a down payment and order the car if I wanted to test drive the car (when it arrived half a year from now). so yeah, i walked away from that... going to keep saving and maybe the demand will die down a little bit in a year from now.

wrxdude55 (not verified)    June 4, 2016 - 5:25AM

First off, they discontinued the hatchback, which accounted for over 50% of their sales. Horrible business decision.

Second, people are waiting for an engine refresh on the STi. The 2.5 engine is a decade and a half old now. It can make good power but it lacks direct injection and is still using a timing belt. Old tech.

Third, there are no cars to sell. These are 100% custom order vehicles, and you are going to have to wait 3-4 months to get one built and sailed in from Japan.