Skip to main content

The Sound Of Silence Will Be The Electric Subaru STI’s Death Knell

What will happen when performance vehicles like the Subaru STI go all-electric? The electric vehicle's silence could be the performance model's death knell without the Subie rumble.

Join us...    

Will the sound of silence be electric performance models like the Subaru WRX STI's death knell? A recent report from Automotive News (by subscription) says if automakers wish to preserve American performance enthusiasts' passion for their cars, they better find a way to put some character and personality into their performance EVs.

The jury for the North American Car, Truck, and Utility of the Year awards wrapped up test drives of the candidates for the 2024 awards a few weeks ago. This year's contenders featured a record number of electric vehicles and no Subaru models. No surprise there.

2027 electric Subaru WRX STI concept

The performance models were awe-inspiring. They tested the electric Lotus SUV, the Eletre, coming late next year. 

Richard Truett, technology and engineering reporter for AN, says it felt like he was shot out of a cannon. The Eletre reaches 60 mph in around three seconds "and does so effortlessly," says Truett. The Lucid Air, which he also tested, performed much the same way. "If I were blindfolded and placed in an Air or an Eletre, I couldn't tell one from the other."

2027 Subaru WRX STI electric model rear view

Subaru WRX STI fans are known for modifying their performance-tuned models with aftermarket performance exhaust systems. A big part of the draw is the sound they make. They are loud, and owners are proud to show them off. It's called the Subie Rumble. 

Truett says, "Blistering acceleration is fun for a while. Then it gets boring. Today's high-performance EVs are homogenized, pasteurized, and sanitized." He says they have no soul compared with most internal combustion engine vehicles. 

If Subaru wants to keep its performance fans engaged, it must offer some performance sound to go with the blistering acceleration. STI fans want to hear the mechanical symphony behind the performance sports car. I agree with Truitt. As the RPMs increase, it makes the sports car exciting to drive.

"It's the same thing that makes powerful overhead-cam-engined Aston Martin, Ferrari, or Lotus sports cars the type of vehicle enthusiasts lust after. And while some EVs pump fake sounds into the interior through speakers, it's not the same as the sound from an internal combustion engine, and it doesn't fool anyone."

Many Ford Mustang GT owners make their presence known by getting loud in Parker, Colorado, where I live. The same is true of STI owners. They want to hear the Boxer engine's rumble and for you to listen to it, too.

Truett points out that electric motors can make pleasing sounds, too. Sound engineers are studying how to make an electric motor's natural noises appealing to performance car drivers. 

"There must be some way to prevent an electric automobile from becoming another disposable appliance. Truett says it won't be done with fake sounds and screens showing the flow of torque and electrons.

My take.

If Subaru Corporation doesn't make the new electric STI sound like an actual performance car with sounds fans want to hear, I'm guessing there will likely be plenty of aftermarket companies willing to satisfy the craving for the Subie rumble.  

You turn.

Will you get excited about the impressive acceleration in the electric STI alone, or do you want to hear the performance as well? 

Thanks for reading, everyone. I hope you enjoyed this electric Subaru WRX STI story. See you tomorrow for my latest Subaru Report.

For additional articles related to new Subaru models, here are a few of my top stories you may enjoy. 

My Must-Read Top Picks

Check out Subaru Boxer Rumble - Exhaust Explained YouTube video 

I am Denis Flierl, a 12-year Torque News senior writer with 20+ years of Subaru and automotive journalism experience. I enjoy bringing you, the Subaru fans and customers, the most up-to-date Subaru news, reviews, and new model information. You'll find the latest Subaru stories on the Subaru page. Follow me on my The Dirty Subaru website, Dirty Subaru blog, SubaruReport, All Subaru, WRXSTI, @DenisFlierl, Facebook, and Instagram.

I’ve got you covered! - I cover all Subaru all the time - It’s called the “Subaru Report.” Check back daily for my expert Subaru analysis!

Please leave your comments below, share the article with friends, and post X to your followers! 

photo credit: Subaru Corporation

Join us...    


Racer88 (not verified)    December 3, 2023 - 5:24PM

As a former WRX and STI owner (for 13 years combined)... I've never heard it called the "rumble." It's well known as the "boxer growl." And yeah... it's a thing!

Nobody who would want an STI would want an EV version of it. And nobody who wants an EV would want an STI. I predict a COLOSSAL failure for this profoundly DUMB idea.

Ajk (not verified)    December 3, 2023 - 8:01PM

No, no, and no. If anyone at Subaru is reading this, please stay true to your engineering roots and do not introduce fake noise. I've been waiting for a pure sports electric AWD sedan for a long time and fakeness doesn't fit into the definition of "pure". Someday the next generation will laugh at us old timers trying to cling on to relics of internal combustion past.

Derp (not verified)    December 3, 2023 - 9:31PM

Subaru should have made an electric sti alongside the ICE version years ago. It's a perfect low volume model to get the technology down. Seems a little late now, people moved on and the younger generation doesn't care.

Anyway, performance EVs have their own sounds internally like the whirring of motors. It isn't as cool, but I think fake sounds are a bad idea. I also don't think the sound is really a deciding factor... The WRX sold back in the day because it was a low cost way to get a LOT of acceleration /Performance. The only way Subaru is tapping into that again is to undercut the model 3 price AND offer more performance... Which I don't see coming when they are so far behind.

Wkc (not verified)    December 3, 2023 - 10:53PM

I hope they dont add sounds. The cool silence is one of the best things about EVs. Loud engines ? Time to grow up, no one wants to hear your ride, no one is impressed. 0-60 in 3 secs, thats super car territory , now you are use to it? Guess the lambo owners wasted their money.

Anthony Stamson (not verified)    December 3, 2023 - 11:22PM

I've got a Mach E GT and I can tell you that blistering acceleration doesn't get boring ... EVER. And the fact that it is so effortless and undramatic is what makes it so appealing.
I would argue that the reason loud exhausts are so prevalent on performance cars is because all cars, not just EVs, have become homogenized. Modern cars are just so good, that none of them really have any soul. Obnoxious noise is just some guys' way of masking that fact.
I have a couple old cars with loud performance exhausts, but honestly after a week or two I don't miss it at all in my Mach E. In fact I kind of like hearing the motors whine when I am accelerating or decelerating. And blowing by some unsuspecting guy in an STI with an effortless silent swoosh is very satisfying in its own way.

Randy Harrington (not verified)    December 4, 2023 - 5:37AM

There is absolutely nothing appealing about a EV to anyone that's a gear head. For me I can't even find a practical use for one. I have a Subaru OBW, and a Ram with a Hemi and muffler delete. I regularly travel 360 miles to my cabin, and I tow with both. Forget the EV, useless for me. And yes, I want to hear my turbo spool on the subi, and the V-8 rumble on the Hemi.

Gassy (not verified)    December 4, 2023 - 7:03AM

Subaru rumble? You mean fart cans? The other drivers on the road aren't going to miss them. Maybe this will stop every WRX / STI driver from thinking they are racing.

Bob (not verified)    December 4, 2023 - 7:59AM

The problem with making an electric car "sound" like a performance car... I occasionally race go karts, gas and electric. One of the places has electric karts with speakers with fake engine noises. It sounds incredibly stupid. I can live without the fake rumble it exchange for the acceleration.

Gary L Averett (not verified)    December 4, 2023 - 9:55AM

Still working on producing a generation of hearing impaired, eh? That's akin to endorsing brighter LED headlights to blind oncoming drivers. I find both extremely annoying. Knock it off, please.

Banks (not verified)    December 4, 2023 - 10:48AM

Personally loud cars are annoying. The need to inflict your noise on everyone else demonstrates some innate deficit of personality or anatomy.

Crash (not verified)    December 4, 2023 - 11:02AM

Meh. I used to drive loud performance cars. But they're really inconsiderate to others. The reality is that MOST people don't want to hear your car. There's a small minority of people who like cars enough to be excited by the sound of your car, but it's disingenuous to assert that it's basically something people want to hear.

Admittedly, I miss the sound and vibration I got going wide open throttle with a big V8, but now loud cars are just annoying when you're having a conservation or watching TV and what you're trying to hear is drowned out by someone just looking for attention.

Soosas (not verified)    December 4, 2023 - 12:42PM

It will be interesting to see what sort of section of the performance car market actually values performance over sound and other aesthetics that they've grown fond of. Seems silly to me to write off a vehicle just because of the noise or rumble but then again I generally see "character" in vehicles as flaws or inefficiencies that people like for some reason. 😂

J Kawasaki (not verified)    December 4, 2023 - 7:22PM

The lack of sound will definitely be missed but I feel that we're not in a time of moving to electricity because while electric motors can overcome straight line acceleration, that is the least important performance metric. Until batteries can be made faster charging, & much lighter, synthetic fuels are the way forward! Between many sources of electricity not being as clean as burning gas, & the weight already mentioned, the politicians are leading us down a bad path.

Mikel Manitius (not verified)    December 5, 2023 - 7:40AM

Stop perpetuating this infantile concept that electric cars need to make noise.

An electric car flying by silently faster than an ICE car is the ultimate in performance and luxury.

Otto Parts (not verified)    December 6, 2023 - 10:50PM

I predict the electric STI will fail no matter what kind of sounds it makes. Electric cars are not interesting, there is no reason to love them. Everyone knows electric cars can be fast, but they don't care because they have no soul. They are transportation appliances, not a lot different than a refrigerator. An electric car takes you places, a refrigerator keeps your food cold. Neither excites you.

Bread (not verified)    December 7, 2023 - 2:18PM

Just to be clear, the Subie rumble is not because of the boxer engine. It is caused by the unequal length exhaust manifold (headers). Get equal length headers and it won't do that.

Grant Brannock (not verified)    December 9, 2023 - 7:29PM

I taught blind children and adults Orientation and Mobility (Navigation) skills for many years. With no sound from EVs, crossing roads can be a death wish - (close your eyes & think about it for a minute).
So to enforce manufacturers to have EVs make sounds, would help blind, partially sighted & even people on crutches & in wheelchairs, when crossing roads etc. Would definitely help.

Also (getting back to the question) EVs without sound are soulless. Make some noise!