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Here's Why Subaru Might Give Up Performance Cars Entirely

Subaru's enthusiast-focused models are not doing great, and the writing is on the wall.

I recently reported on a new partnership between Toyota, Mazda, and Subaru, through which the three Japanese carmakers would combine forces in pursuit of a carbon-neutral future. While the three carmakers promise exciting powertrains will continue to be on offer, Subaru seems to be missing a great opportunity on a number of fronts.  

Electrification seems to be Subaru's focus for the foreseeable future 

During the announcement of the Toyota-Mazda-Subaru partnership, Subaru CEO, Atsushi Osaki said:

"Achieving a carbon-neutral society is a challenge that must be undertaken by all of Japan's industries and society as a whole. As we continue to refine electrification technology, we will also enhance our horizontally opposed engines with an aim to use carbon-neutral fuels in the future. Moving forward, the three companies sharing the same aspiration will continue to advance the pursuit of sustainable excellence in Japanese car manufacturing."  

There is no denying that compared to other carmakers, Toyota and Mazda included, Subaru has some catching up to do on the BEV front. Currently, the only Subaru EV is the Solterra, which is a rebadged Toyota BZ4X. We know three new Subaru BEV models will be arriving in 2026, but what does that mean for the rest of the lineup? 

We could see hybrid variants of the Outback and Forester 

Subaru's CEO mentioned enhancing Subaru's signature boxer engines to run on carbon-neutral fuels. This could mean Toyota's partnership with ExxonMobil could be beneficial for other companies partnering with the Japanese carmaker.

The next-generation Subaru Outback and Forester will, likely, benefit from this partnership, meaning they would either become hybrid models or gain the ability to run on synthetic fuels (or both). The Outback and Forester are easily Subaru's most popular models. They, alone, are responsible for a 7-percent increase in sales compared to the previous year. 

Subaru WRX and BRZ are not doing great, and they could be axed soon 

Subaru BRZ may be a rebadged Toyota 86, but unlike it, it doesn't have a heritage to relate to

In 2023, Subaru marked a 13.6-percent increase in sale compared to 2022. For 2024, we are seeing around a 7-percent increase, but this is not thanks to Subaru's performance models. In fact, Subaru WRX sales for this year are already down 39 percent with just 1,673 units sold in May. The Subaru BRZ is even worse, with 45 percent drop in sales – just 227 units sold in May. 

The WRX and BRZ problem 

We all know what the Subaru WRX problem is. The Japanese carmaker still hasn't given us a proper STI variant of the current generation, which is all we really want. The WRX TS, WRX TR, or the WRX S4 STI Sport# are as close as we are going to get apparently, but it just isn't enough. Then, there is the CVT transmission, which is just out of place in a performance car like this. At least, there is still a six-speed manual.  

The BRZ situation is even worse since it has been a rebadged Toyota 86 from day one. The problem is, while Toyota has a heritage to connect the modern-day 86 to, Subaru doesn't, which leaves the Subaru BRZ as the Plan B option. In fact, I am willing to bet most people who went for the BRZ did so because they haven't found the right-spec Toyota GR86.

Regardless, the BRZ has already been axed from Europe, for 2025, and given the next generation Toyota GR86 will not be co-developed with Subaru, this could be the end. As a bonus, Subaru is also discontinuing the Legacy in 2025, meaning it would become a crossover/ SUV brand only, once the WRX and BRZ, inevitably, go extinct. 

Nothing is set in stone, and we continue to hope for a comeback involving a high-performance, rally-inspired Subaru STI model. As always, feel free to share your thoughts in the comment section below.

About the author

Dimitar Angelov's automotive interests made him an expert in a wide variety of vehicles. Japanese brands like Toyota are closest to his heart, although performance cars in general are his favorite segment, which is why he is constantly on the lookout for the best deals on the market. Dimitar Angelov's car passion and knack for the written word led him to complete a Master of Arts in Media and Communications, and classic car restoration. Dim is happy to get behind the wheel of any car and share his impressions. You can follow Dimitar on XLinked-inInstagram, and Facebook.

Image sources: 2024  Subaru WRX TR, 2024 Subaru BRZ