The manual transmission is going away in the next-generation 2024 Impreza hatchback. Will the sport-tuned Subaru WRX be next to drop the 6-speed manual gearbox? Driving enthusiasts cringe at the idea, and a new report says Subaru Corporation is developing new technology to keep it alive.
We know Subaru dropped the 5-speed manual in the Impreza to bring EyeSight driver assist technology as standard equipment to all trim levels. Subaru wants every Impreza trim level to achieve the highest safety scores. EyeSight will upgrade Impreza's safety score to a Top Safety Pick+ winner from the IIHS, like the new WRX with an SPT automatic.
Subaru still needs to develop the technology for a manual transmission to work with EyeSight. It can be done, but the Japanese automaker has yet to be willing to invest the money to make it happen. But that could change if a new report from CarSales is accurate.
Currently, the 2023 Subaru WRX with a 6-speed manual is not equipped with EyeSight safety technology and does not get the highest safety scores from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). But Subaru wants all its models to achieve the top scores.
The WRX with the Subaru Performance Transmission (SPT) is available on all trim levels (standard on the GT trims). The 2023 WRX SPT comes with the next-generation EyeSight driver assist technology. For the first time, the WRX (CVT) earned the Top Safety Pick+ award from the IIHS.
Speaking to the press in Sydney recently, Subaru Australia managing director Blair Read said the Japanese automaker is working on addressing the sub-par safety situation for the fifth-generation 2023 WRX performance sedan and the BRZ sports coupe.
When asked if the WRX and BRZ will get EyeSight with Automatic Emergency Braking (AEB), Read said, "We're working towards it coming to Australia. Our thinking is to equip those models; we are committed to manual buyers."
When will Subaru Corporation develop the technology?
The report says Subaru chief Blair Read would not put a timeline on the fitment of AEB in manual trim levels of the WRX or BRZ. "From a Subaru perspective, we would like to see it as soon as possible, and it's something that we work closely with Subaru Corporation on and something that's definitely on our radar to get to market as soon as possible. Subaru Corporation has supported and worked to make it happen for us," Read said.
Subaru would lose buyers if they had a CVT-only WRX
Subaru says a whopping 85 percent of WRX sales are 6-speed manual transmission models, and only fifteen percent are for the CVT automatic. We expect the results to be the same for the 2022 WRX GT trim with the new Subaru Performance Transmission (CVT).
There is a difference in fuel mileage
It's not why performance enthusiasts buy the WRX manual, but it gets better fuel mileage than the WRX with a CVT. The 2023 Subaru WRX with a 6-speed manual gearbox gets an EPA-estimated 19/26 city/highway mpg and 22 combined mpg. The 2023 Subaru WRX with a CVT automatic transmission gets 19/25 city/highway mpg and 21 combined mpg.
If Subaru is committed to making EyeSight with automatic emergency braking compatible with the WRX's 6-speed manual gearbox, Subaru should invest the resources to make it happen. The entire Subaru lineup will earn the highest safety ratings, which is the automaker's primary goal. If not, Subaru will lose a majority of its WRX customers.
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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. Check out 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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