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Performance Fans Will Jump For Subaru’s New “Bolder” WRX/STI Design

Subaru says the next-generation WRX STI will get a “bolder” design. See what Subaru’s new boss is thinking.

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Subaru Corp has a new boss, and he’s going to enhance the performance lineup of the sport-tuned WRX and performance-tuned WRX STI. Tomomi Nakamura took over last week, and he isn’t wasting any time getting a new vision for Subaru Corporation. The Japanese automaker just unveiled a new Vision STEP plan “with the aim of becoming a company that is trusted by, and resonates with, customers.”

Performance fans have been asking for a new bolder design on the WRX/STI since the WRX Concept was unveiled at the New York Auto Show in 2013. Fans loved the concept and couldn’t wait for the next-generation model to be revealed. But when the 2015 Subaru WRX/STI was uncovered, fans weren’t too excited with the exterior design language.

The new 2015 WRX and WRX STI body style wasn’t what fans expected or wanted for the new-generation sports car. In fact, it was a huge let down for WRX and WRX STI enthusiasts around the globe. They thought the styling was just a mild makeover of the outgoing 2014 model. Even the teaser image of the WRX Subaru revealed a few days before it was unveiled in LA, gave the appearance of a whole new body style. But that didn’t happen when the covers were taken off on November 20, 2013.

A new vision at Subaru Corp

Subaru Corporation’s new President is changing things at Subaru and seems to be listening to performance enthusiasts. The STEP plan says in their product plans and design direction, that Subaru will launch fully-redesigned versions for key models every year and enhance distinctive SUV and sports models. It says, “We will evolve Subaru’s “Dynamic x Solid” design identity to a “bolder” expression.

After Outback and Legacy, the performance WRX and WRX STI will be the next models in the stable to get the new Subaru platform and they will likely arrive in 2020-2021. The sedans are due for a complete remodel and fans are hoping for even more changes like the 5-Door hatch body style to return, and a new FA20 2.0-liter DIT power plant under the hood. Neither has been confirmed by Subaru.

What fans can expect, is a new “bolder” exterior design on the next-generation 2020 Subaru WRX/STI performance models. Subaru has the WRX Concept to draw inspiration from and it’s already what fans want. Stay tuned.

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Photo credit: Subaru Global

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KWAKU WALKER (not verified)    July 14, 2018 - 8:02PM

As a 2004 STi owner, I have resisted getting any of the newer versions because I refuse to pay for less power than I already have. Well I have 400whp and 400 torque in a "slightly" modified car. But none of them excited me except for the track version that beat the record at the Nurbirgring. So unless the performance figures are close to approaching those of the NR version, I'll keep my 2004

DeanMcManis (not verified)    July 15, 2018 - 1:33AM

Yeah, I remember seeing the bold new WRX concept, and at that time Subaru was starting a marketing campaign talking about how all car's are getting to look the same and that it is vitally important to have a bold, unique design. But then their 2013 Imprezza was introduced, looking generic and dull. Similarly the 2013 Honda Civic looked plain and unremarkable just after Honda said that the new Civic was going to offer shocking and original styling. So both models were a big let down and the car's image suffered. Then the boldly designed 2016 Civic line came out, and it has been smashing success.

I really do hope that the new boss pushes for truly striking and bold styling, at least in the WRX and Sti models. The Evo and WRX Sti inspired a generation of compact rally racing fans, but then in 2016 Mitsubishi threw the Lancer/evo into the trash can, leaving the Civic and WRX (and their competitors) to soldier on and mop up the business left in it's wake.

Strictly speaking, Subaru has evolved the WRX and base Imprezza mechanically, but even though the current WRX looks OK, it is hardly a head-turner (like the bold concept). So I hope that their new leadership brings about the much needed styling changes for the whole Subaru line.

Elvin Fernandez (not verified)    July 15, 2018 - 7:50AM

It’s about time. The only body styles that are aggressive where the 2004 to 2006. The Wrx STI started to form into a Honda body style there after. The lack of increaseing the 305hp is also a bummer. The ford rs has more balls than the STI.
Subaru Get your Shit together and start winning your customers back.

DeanMcManis (not verified)    July 15, 2018 - 6:04PM

In reply to by Elvin Fernandez (not verified)

Yeah, Mercedes offers a factory 2.0L turbo 4 cylinder with 375HP/350TQ in their $50K AMG CLA 45.
Having bold new styling, combined with a real power boost would get Subaru headlines, and create a visible flagship for their company.

Charles R (not verified)    July 15, 2018 - 11:49AM

Need a forged internals engine upgrade option.
Subaru could make a killing on forged rods and pistons. Nearly everyone wants more reliable power. But not everyone can swing for the cost of a full aftermarket professional build nor the down time. I’d rather swap a diff or driveshaft....even a tranny than a bent rod and windowed block. Our MSRP for forged rods $700-800 forged pistons $550-600. Figure with Subaru’s buying power $1000 or less. The offer the upgraded forged engine for $5000-$7500 or more with a performance parts bundle. Not like the don’t have to install the parts anyway. Everyone wins. Regardless of whether the next STI has a 2.0, a 2.4, or better yet a twin turbo. If Kia can do it anyone can!

Charlie Shelle… (not verified)    August 12, 2018 - 2:51PM

In reply to by Charles R (not verified)

Hi Charles, actually the 2019 STI has stronger piston so that issue seems to be solved. That was really the only weak point of the STI aside from the Spohn bearings but that is a less common problem. Funny thing about it is I have also been saying the same thing as you for years now and they finally did it for the 2019 year model. Ironically this may be the last year the EJ 257 is used anyway so I guess they waited to the very last year for better pistons? Having said that the research I’ve done indicates the ring and failure is not that common with the newest generation of STI, 2015+. You’re absolutely correct the market is very hungry for reliable power. Subaru has put people in Acworth position because the things that make the car more reliable, AOS, stronger pistons, and professional tune also potentially void the warranty. If the next generation of STI is not at least 350 hp to match the focus RS they shouldn’t even bother bringing it to market because I don’t sales will be very good.

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Ed B (not verified)    July 16, 2018 - 8:23AM

Frankly, I'm skeptical and will believe it when I see it. Time and time again Subaru has teased us with prototype versions of cars we wished they'd actually make. We shall see if the new leaderships' vision becomes reality after the bean counters get involved.

Robert (not verified)    July 31, 2018 - 11:29AM

In reply to by Ed B (not verified)

I like your reply... I am a new first time Subaru Forester XT 2.0 owner. It was the power of the turbo coupled with the safety crash test performance that really sold me. Now the bean coutners have eliminated the only Subaru I was interested in. THe mantra of a safety first orientation and performance isn't dead hereis not truthful in my estimation and neither is the service at least at my dealer.

We are looking into new vehicles now so we have to decide whether we want to get the last turbo Forester, the 2018 XT, or leave Subaru for Honda, or Mazda or somewhere else. It is shameful that Subaru blames the customers for not buying these models and falsely claims that the manual is too expensive as is the XT engineering-wise when they are keeping them for the WRX for the time being. I would have liked to buy an XT with the WRX STi 305 hp 2.5L and I would have liked the manual option too. Instead of using the profits from sales to improve the product, they have blamed customers... I wonder if the 7 seat Ascent will replace the 10-12% of lost Forester sales and more importantly the bad opinion of one-time Subaru customers. They should be researched what turned customers away, especially those who actually became first time Subaru owners.

SubaStar (not verified)    July 16, 2018 - 1:51PM

Subaru's problems are tree:
1. Poor design since decades even if the last Outback and Crosstrek got improved one;
2. Drop down the versatile WRX/WRX STI hatchback: in every other manufacturer's lineup, dated sedans were axed but Subaru came back to sedans!
3. Letting down their most loyal performance fans whith NO evolution on the EJ25 mill, which remained unchanged for the last decade : a non-sense for a pioneer leading it's category.
When I read this: "The Japanese automaker just unveiled a new Vision STEP plan “with the aim of becoming a company that is trusted by, and resonates with, customers.”, I feel just a bit better. Now let's wait and see if Tomomi Nakamura will apply that nice intention.