Friends, it's time to pour one out for arguably the most iconic rally racer of them all. Those of you patiently waiting for the next-generation Subaru WRX STI better sit down, because it's not coming anytime soon. If ever.
In a surprise announcement, Subaru confirmed that the STI would not return with the new WRX. For that matter, the automaker is rather vague on the STI's future as well, stating that "Subaru Corporation is exploring opportunities for the next-generation Subaru WRX STI, including electrification."
The statement goes on to say, unequivocally, that a next-generation STI with an internal combustion engine "will not be produced based upon the new WRX platform." Bummer.
Gallery: 2019 Subaru Impreza WRX STI S209
The surprise is certainly real, because we've reported on rumors regarding the next-generation STI for some time now. Last July we heard a 345-horsepower (257-kilowatt) STI was under consideration, but hell, forget the rumors. In January 2022, Subaru stormed into the Tokyo Auto Salon with an S4 STI Performance concept all decked out with wings, red trim, and STI badging. We figured it was a glimpse of something coming later this year, and you know what? perhaps it was.
Subaru's STI statement is just three paragraphs long, but it opens with a rather telling passage about electrification and meeting the needs of a changing marketplace. Between the previous STI rumors and the STI concept from just a couple of months ago, it feels like something of an about-face as opposed to a long-term product plan. We contacted Subaru in hopes of getting a bit more backstory, but the automaker offered no additional comment.
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Regardless of the intent, the reality is that the WRX STI as we know it is dead. The first version appeared in 1994, packing 247 horsepower and catapulting the modest Impreza to superstar status in the World Rally Championship. The US market wouldn't get the hopped-up Impreza WRX until 2002, with the STI coming in 2004. Of course, Subaru separated the Impreza and WRX in 2014, but had we known our stint in the 2019 STI 209 would be our last internal-combustion dance, we might have savored it a bit more.
Will the WRX STI be revived with electrification in a next-generation package? Subaru leaves the door open on that front but stops short of an official confirmation.