Subaru dropped a bombshell on the performance world last week. For nearly 30 years, the amped-up STI version of the turbocharged, all-wheel-drive WRX put an exclamation point on rallytastic performance on and off the tarmac. With a new WRX generation now here, everyone expected a new WRX STI to follow. We now know that's not happening.
Subaru's March 11 announcement didn't offer any specific reason for the STI's cancellation. It merely stated that the company was exploring opportunities for the next-gen STI that included electrification. But in the meantime, "a next-generation internal combustion engine WRX STI will not be produced based upon the new WRX platform." A report from Road & Track offers a little bit of context on that decision, citing Subaru Corporate Communications Director Dominick Infante as saying regulations are changing so fast that a new STI would have a limited shelf life. That wouldn't make sense, according to the report.
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It's a simple answer that coincides with the broader message of electrification Subaru conveyed in its STI announcement. The current-generation WRX debuted in September 2021 with a turbocharged 2.4-liter engine, creating 271 horsepower (202 kilowatts) the old-fashioned way – without any hybrid assist. An STI model with more power was expected to follow, and in fact, Subaru showed an S4 STI Performance concept early this year at the Tokyo Auto Salon. Before that, rumors suggested a new STI could have upwards of 350 hp (261 kW). None of those rumors, however, included electrification in the equation.
Gallery: 2022 Subaru WRX
It's unclear if a new combustion-powered STI was already in the works prior to the announcement. Motor1.com pressed Subaru on the subject but no additional comment was offered. It's worth noting, however, that Subaru stops short of completely ruling out a future WRX STI. For that matter, STI exists outside of the WRX, but the future looks decidedly electric. Along with the aforementioned S4 STI Performance concept, Subaru showed a Solterra STI concept in Tokyo. The real attention-getter was the radical 1,073-hp (800-kW) STI E-RA concept, which Subaru called a near-future STI motorsport study.
For those hoping for one last gas-powered STI fling, however, it appears that ship has sailed. If the WRX STI returns, it will almost certainly be at least partially electrified, if not a full-on EV.