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What’s The Most Appealing Subaru? It’s A Sedan Not A Hot Hatch

The 2020 WRX and STI are the most appealing models in the Subaru lineup. In the new J.D. Power APEAL study, WRX STI comes in second in the compact sports car category. See which hot hatch was number one.


Who makes the most appealing compact sports car? The 2020 Subaru WRX and STI came in a close second in the compact sports car category, losing to a hot hatch. In the 2020 J.D. Power APEAL study, which most performance fans couldn’t care less about, the Hyundai Veloster was the model most appealing to its owners. But the study does give us some insights.

The Power APEAL study “measures an owner’s emotional attachment to their new vehicle”, says Dave Sargent, vice president of automotive quality at J.D. Power. In the 2020 APEAL study, Subaru scores well below the segment average compared with other automakers in creating excitement for its customers, except for the WRX and STI.

2020 Subaru WRX STI, 2022 Subaru WRX STI, next-generation STI 

We are wondering if the 2020 Subaru WRX STI would have been number one with owners if the model came in a hatchback body style like Hyundai’s Veloster? There’s probably more to it than having a rear hatch.

The sport-tuned WRX and performance-tuned STI sedans do wow and excite owners with their speed and performance. But Power says its newly-redesigned study measures an owners’ emotional attachment and level of excitement with their new vehicle across 37 attributes.

It’s about what you feel when you step on the accelerator, but it also measures things like sense of comfort and luxury you feel when climbing into the driver’s seat. A big factor is if the car delivers an “emotional attachment” along with meeting your expectations compared with what the automaker says you will get.

2020 Subaru WRX STI, 2022 Subaru WRX STI, next-generation STI

Subaru delivers on its promise of giving owners a performance car that has exceptional handling on all surfaces, Symmetrical all-wheel-drive, all-weather performance, and they say it’s “The best-performing WRX and STI ever.” When compared to itself, it does perform better than the previous year model.

But it doesn't deliver better than the previous generation model. If Subaru offered the WRX and STI in a hatchback body style would the performance car rank higher in appeal? A hatch offers more utility so owners can throw in a mountain bike, carry camping gear, or your winter tires. It just makes the compact sports car easier to live with.

The next-generation Subaru WRX and STI are coming sometime in 2022. Let’s hope Subaru brings back the hatchback body style. It will improve the appeal of the compact sports car.

You Might Also Like: Why You Won’t Get A Boring 2.4L Turbo Ascent SUV Engine In The All-New Subaru STI

Denis Flierl has invested over 30 years in the automotive industry in a consulting role working with every major car brand. He is an accredited member of the Rocky Mountain Automotive Press and the founder of Subaru Report where he covers all of the Japanese automaker's models. More stories can be found on the Torque News Subaru page. Follow Denis on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

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Photo credit: Subaru, Competition Subaru


Al (not verified)    October 31, 2020 - 4:34AM

Wonderfully written article. I’m a Subaru fan myself at age 54. I have just myself and my wife now so I really don’t have a need for a large suv. Though I considered an outback wagon (xt) for the extra power I’d much rather have the size and versatility of Japan’s Levorg here in the states. For me, the speed and available power in an automatic would be a fantastic daily driver and one I’d purchase. I’m trying to wait and hope Subaru does consider manufacturing that here in the states - I’ll gladly fork out 50 k for that over a Mercedes. That’s my opine

Evan (not verified)    May 22, 2021 - 2:41PM

The current version of the WRX/STi is a much better chassis than the 2008-2014. Subaru admits it dumbed down this generation of the WRX STi compared to the first generation from 2002-2007 to make it less jarring with softer suspension, and more subtle lines. There's a reason why ARA Subarus are doing better in the current VA 2015+ chassis and thats because it's so much more rigid. I love Subaru and while the hatch would be nice to have back it's quite possibly the worst performance version offered to the US market. Hopefully the new global platform makes it even better but I will take performance over looks any day of the week.

Amanda Kinney (not verified)    October 12, 2021 - 10:09PM

Are they ever going to do anything about there stereo system. I bought a white 2019 WRX in the spring and I’m very disappointed with stereo and speakers. The stereo doesn’t go very loud at all. The volume does go louder than 27 but it shows it goes louder but it doesn’t!!!!

Ronin (not verified)    December 11, 2021 - 9:37PM

In reply to by Amanda Kinney (not verified)

Not to be rude, but the stereo is the last feature or reason to buy a Wrx or STI. However aftermarket head units or speakers are cheap and easy to replace if that's your thing.

Nate (not verified)    December 14, 2021 - 5:45PM

Everyone knows J.D.Power is such a joke and chevy abuses their junk J.D.Power trophies like they're special. As soon as I saw J.D.Power in this article, the whole article meant nothing to me. Not a reliable source.

NMK (not verified)    January 29, 2022 - 11:44AM

Long live the sedan..!! Coupes and sedans are all I drive and all I ever intend to drive. You soccer mom folks can keep your crossovers and pickup trucks that never see a day of "work".