All-new Subaru WRX spied, but a return to the UK remains unlikely

Subaru’s next WRX draws closer to launch for overseas markets, with an STI to follow soon after

The next-generation Subaru WRX has been spied testing in the United States, flaunting new interpretations of the tell-tale design cues that helped make it an icon for nearly 30 years on road and competition rally stages. When Subaru announced in back 2018 that it would be removing the WRX and WRX STI from sale in the UK, the plan did not extend to other markets, all of which are about to welcome this new generation. 

In fact, we’ve already been given a pretty good insight into what the next WRX will look like by the new-generation Levorg estate, which will share much of its bodywork, chassis and interior with the new WRX. That theory is confirmed by this prototype, which features a similar cab-forward silhouette to the Levorg, itself a hallmark of Subaru’s new SGP (Subaru Global Platform). The prototype also has a familiar front end design, with slim LED headlights and the iconic bonnet scoop framing the six-sided grille. 

Where the Levorg and WRX differ, however, is the latter’s aggressive three-box body shape, accentuated with large flares over the rear arches and a quad exhaust setup that’s been a staple WRX element of the last couple of generations. The lack of a stacked wing and a high-specification braking system do suggest this is the standard WRX model though, and not a reboot of the range-topping STI model that we expect will arrive around 12 months after this basic WRX model. 

The new WRX’s powertrain could vary depending on market, but in the US at least, the car will feature a new 2.4-litre turbocharged flat-four petrol engine, mated to either a six-speed manual or CVT transmission. Drive will be sent to all four wheels via Subaru’s trademark all-wheel drive system.

In this form, the new-generation WRX has little chance of making it here to the UK due to tough emissions regulations, but while this new car might seem to lack the innovation we might hope, there is still a sense of optimism that we could see the WRX once again available in this country. That’s because Subaru is promising the next WRX STI will be a new interpretation of the high performance saloon, thanks to the use of electrification. 

While specifics are still very much under lock and key, Subaru executives have confirmed their interest in hybridisation to revive the next STI model with a higher level of performance together with reduced emissions and fuel consumption. Subaru already has a small range of hybrid models available in the UK and other markets, with new generation hybrid and all-electric models currently being co-developed with Toyota. 

We’re a long way from being confident about the STI’s return to Europe with a stronger basis for type approval here in the UK. A clean, green STI model, however, could be just the kick-start Subaru needs to reverse poor UK sales performances over the last few years and rekindle at least some of its past glories.

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