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Fans Want a WRX/STI Hatch; Why Isn’t Subaru Listening

The 2018 Subaru WRX/STI is in a sales slide. A return to a hatch body would bring it back fast!

Ok, we can’t figure out why Subaru isn’t listening to their loyal customers and they’re not paying attention to what’s going on in the compact performance car market. Fans want a hatchback WRX/STI performance car and Subaru won’t give it to them. The truth is in the sales this summer. It can officially be called a major trend, the WRX/STI sales are in the dumps. The WRX and WRX STI performance sedans have slid backward in sales for the fourth straight month.

What would turn it around? We think a return to the hatch body style would bring the compact performance car back to life quickly. The number’s don’t lie. Even thought the 2018 WRX/STI gets a significant remodel, sales of the newly-revamped WRX and WRX STI performance sedan have slipped again. Subaru of America reports 2,510 units were sold in September, a 6.5 percent drop over the same month last year.

It’s been a summer of going backwards for the sport-tuned WRX and performance-tuned WRX STI sedans. They saw their biggest drop last month, down 20.9 percent for the month of August. Sales of the WRX/STI were also down 10.8 percent in July and slipped 15.2 percent in June.

It’s now been one third of the year of sales drops and can now be considered a major trend, at least in the US. In Canada, Subaru’s performance sedans, the WRX and WRX STI, enjoyed a record-breaking month with 431 units sold, an increase of 18.1 percent.

Bring back the hatch, Americans want it

Bringing back the WRX/STI hatchback would turn things around in a hurry in the US. Subaru fans have been asking for the return of the 5-Door body style since it was dropped in 2015MY. The new-generation STI needs a hatch body style to compete with the new Honda Civic Type R, and Volkswagen Golf R models.

It’s a fact that Americans want hatchbacks more than sedans. In 2017, compact and subcompact car sales are down 25 percent in the US. While hatchbacks in those same classes have risen 16 percent. Ford has it figured out. While hatchbacks account for about a quarter of industry small car sales, Ford’s Fiesta and Focus outperform that significantly at 33 percent and 40 percent respectively. Ford sales analyst Erich Merkle told USA TODAY, “Hatchbacks are the nugget of hope for the small car segment.”

We are stumped why Subaru isn’t listening to their fan base, and not paying attention to current trends in the compact performance car market. Subaru has been quiet about their plans for the 2020MY WRX/STI when it’s due for a complete revamp. STI fans want a hatch and it would turn things around in a hurry.

Photo credit: Subaru USA


Ken Bell (not verified)    October 7, 2017 - 5:12PM

I think the number of people addicted to hatchbacks is either misunderstood, or overrated. I personally dislike hatchbacks so I'll admit I'm biased, but all of the people I know prefer the sedan. I'd have no problem if Subaru made both a hatch and a sedan. The problem I see is everyone else in this category of car only offers a hatch, which makes Subaru the only option for those folks.

Brian (not verified)    October 8, 2017 - 2:32PM

In reply to by Ken Bell (not verified)

I believe there is a huge demand for a hatchback and/or a sport wagon. I previously owned a 2005 Legacy GT Wagon with a 5-speed. this was a Turbo car that I set up with a full Cusco suspension package including fully adjustable coilovers, swaybars and links, strut tower bars, subframe bracing etc.etc....It was the baddest wagon around. It had nearly a 50/50 weight distribution with a full tank of gas and outdid almost all sedans and wagons, etc. What made it great you could carry all of your ski, snowboard gear, surfboards, camping, backpacking, dogs, etc..... These wagons are so desirable that they still make one for japan and europe I think? Subaru should really listen because there are thousands of us who want a sports wagon not a frumpy outback! Come on Subaru I will put my money down today if you build one!!!

Dana (not verified)    October 8, 2017 - 5:04PM

In reply to by Ken Bell (not verified)

I live in a huge Subaru market... Western NY. Most people (including me and my husband) would buy a new WRX in a heartbeat if they brought back the wagon. It's functional and can look very sporty. The new sedans are just so generic looking.

Cats (not verified)    October 8, 2017 - 8:05AM

I did not buy a new suby this year. Turbo, awd, hatch/wagon are what we need. Went with an alltrack last month with HUGE savings.

Kreeeeeg (not verified)    October 8, 2017 - 8:40AM

That's funny! You think you know STI fans, HA, that's laughable!! I own an 05 STI, have for years now. I cringed harder seeing a hatch STI introduced in 08, with no sedan, than I did anything else that year. I was friggin ecstatic when they announced that they would not be doing a hatch anymore in 2010. Hatchbacks are for teenyboppers who want to haul around a bunch of their friends and junk they possess, or people that have less refined taste. In other words, they're eye sores. An older gentleman, such as myself, knows such refinements. Let me put it this way, you'll never see a GTR in hatch form. Nissan knows where to keep it's hatches, where to keep it's performance cars. I think Subaru finally knows that now too. Next time, don't put words in a true enthusiast's mouth. "Too soon junior!"

Max (not verified)    August 9, 2018 - 6:39PM

In reply to by Kreeeeeg (not verified)

In the PNW you will see far more older hatchback Sti’s because they appeal far more to the active lifestyle of snowboarders, mountain bikers, hikers, surfers or anyone with a dog. The sti is not just here look cool. It’s an awd car built to handle some of the toughest dirt roads not just rev your engine at stoplights. I do however agree that only having the hatchback was a mistake but I think there is room for both but maybe not at all trim levels

Spec (mis) B (… (not verified)    October 16, 2018 - 2:40PM

In reply to by Kreeeeeg (not verified)

Google spec b's. A Legacy with the wrx/sti setup!!!

To me the superior Subaru product line is the Legacy.

WRX cabins are too small with no leather Legacy is the grown up car.

Geese1 (not verified)    October 8, 2017 - 8:55AM

I don't think it's so much the hatch bodystyle as it is the lack of updates to the engine and powertrain. When Subaru had previously offered the STi in hatch format, sales weren't that great either, and didn't increase until they went back to the sedan bodystyle. I think it's a small, but vocal group of enthusiasts that are clamoring for a return to the hatch body, whereas the sales numbers would point to the fact that the sedan is by far the preferred model.

However, Subaru is doing itself a disservice by soldiering on with basically the same engine and powertrain they've been using since entering the North American market. The competition has surpassed the STi at this point, and it won't be until the total revamp of the platform that sales will become energized again. I know personally I held off on buying an STi for my last car purchase simply because of the antiquated engine. When I'm in the market again in a couple of years I'm hoping Subaru will have a more compelling offering.

M (not verified)    October 8, 2017 - 10:23AM

The age and era of ppl buying that price range of car, have kids now. They need the space for the stroller for the other 5 days of the week. The enjoyable part of the car is experienced without the kids in the car. They could lower there price, or come back out with their hatch option. The space difference might not be overly significant, but it could easily "make of brake" the decision when space isn't sacrifices le, but you done want a limp car/minivan either. Any other wagon is in a whole nother class of car.

Anotheran (not verified)    October 8, 2017 - 11:14AM

A majority of that same crowd is probably complaining about manuals disappearing but won't buy a new car because they don't want to pay the price of depreciation.

John (not verified)    October 8, 2017 - 11:22AM

People are not buying the STI now for a few simple reasons, I know because I am one of those buyers. I will not buy a 15+ year old engine that is lucky to get 20mpg out of a 4cyl. I will 100% be buying a new STI once the next generation comes out. That being said I will never buy a first year of a new generation car, I will wait 2 years. So Subaru waiting so long to bring the STI up to date with a new engine is what is causing the lag in sales. If the next generation comes out in 2020, I will be getting a 2022 likely. I can wait since I own multiple cars, and don't need a new one now. I think as a car buyer you should never put yourself in the spot where you need to buy a car if you can because needing one may force you to get something you may not want. Btw I could careless about a hatchback, I actually prefer the sedan.

Jerry Fields Jr (not verified)    October 8, 2017 - 12:25PM

Sedans have become ridiculously impractical with their tiny trunk openings. I wouldn't have one if it was given to me. Hatches and wagons are versatile and there are some darn good choices out there.

Pizza_pablo (not verified)    October 8, 2017 - 3:56PM

Did you guys just wakeup? Subaru has stated MANY times that they wanted to concentrate efforts on the redesign of the WRX, for 2015, on one body style and get it right, instead of splitting effort and funding on two body styles.
A hatch is scheduled to arrive in the 2020 model year.

Cory Goodlin (not verified)    October 8, 2017 - 7:25PM

I personally dont like the hatch back, but I think the newer body style is ugly and doesn't really look sporty.

Ryan Bartholomew (not verified)    October 8, 2017 - 8:39PM

Let's be honest, Subaru hasn't done anything that the fringe has wanted in a long time. LGT, the Baja, legacy wagon, outback sedan, the brat, turbo xt, xt6, svx, all awesome cars from what used to be an awesome company. My wife sells Subarus and I have a 3.6r with the last year of the 5 speed auto because CVT... I would never buy a new Subaru, they ruined the wrx, ruined it. Completely, anyone that actually likes the new body style had no sense of what a car company should be doing. Why be original when the for fusion/lancer look sells. They only care about the bottom line and the majority which only want large cars and SUVs. Mark my words, Subaru will only continue pandering to the majority with shit cars. Oh and they have an SUV coming out, of course they do...

SubaStar (not verified)    October 10, 2017 - 5:55PM

Have you ever compared the back of the hatch with the sedan one? Do it and you'll understand why the hatch has been so popular ;-) True to say that the actual sedan, issued for MY 2014, is so generic and bad looking... Subaru, take some bits of advice from Mazda, who can also build good looking, modern and reliable cars!
True to say that the engine is so out-dated that it becomes indecent from Subaru daring to offer such a mill, compared with the competition.
I'll wait until the next Tokyo Motor Show where the "Viziv Performance Concept" should tell us a bit more about the revamped model due for 2020. If it comes with the new SGP, DIT powerplant, 4WD, hatch and design, I'll order it.
If not, I won't be a Subaru fan anymore. So sad, after about 30 years of loyalty...

BillB (not verified)    October 12, 2017 - 6:31AM

Man, so depressing. Subaru created a new market when they finally blessed the USA with the WRX.... only then to kill off the hatch. Then knocked another one out of the park with the Forester XT, basically creating the sporty small SUV market. Yes the forester xt was a small SUV back then.

So now the Forester XT is larger, higher, handles more poorly, and the less said about the CVT the better. The CrossTrek is very close in size to the 2004 FXT, but is quite disappointing in the engine department. Nor can you get a WRX wagon anymore.

So no you can get a Honda Civic Type R, Focus RS, Golf R, or a BMW X1 and get decent handling, small, speed, and sporty. Subaru seems to just be ignoring the markets they created.

Brett Mills (not verified)    October 22, 2017 - 2:14AM

Subaru is straight up failing with no sti hatchback. I will never buy a sedan from them, ever! They have lost touch and don’t have their finger on the pulse of the USA hatch scene anymore. Guess I will have to take my money else where to those that know what’s up. RS and Type R just to name a couple. Too bad...

Damien (not verified)    November 30, 2017 - 4:25AM

This may be partially true but I'm gonna guess the new Honda, Focus RS and new Hyuandai have something to do with it. We aren't getting the horsepower increase we should to keep up with competition.

Carey Vandenberg (not verified)    December 30, 2017 - 4:35PM

I love my WRX 5 door. I'm getting close to replacing it and, although I want so much to stay with Subaru for performance AWD 5 door / wagon, I'm probably going to buy a Volvo V60. Subaru... outside of the WRX, your cars are boring. I'd love to stay with Subaru but Subaru is forcing me to leave.... and I've been waiting a few years already, having sent numerous emails asking for the return of the 5 door WRX / STI and still no sign they are listening.

Dan (not verified)    February 12, 2018 - 5:00PM

I agree with the author of this post! I sold my 02 bugeye a year ago and ended up w/ a Mazda as Subaru has stopped making the Hatchback. I would definitely sell the Mazda for a WRX hatch if they started making them again! Come on Subaru!

Al (not verified)    February 17, 2018 - 5:44PM

Having had a focus hatch I wouldn’t waste my hard earned cash on an RS - that said Subie - if u want my money its going toward a hatch - hope it’s yours or it’s going elsewhere