Powered by
Subscribe to the only car newsletter you’ll ever need

Subaru WRX STI dead as we know it, electrification to come

John Law

It’s official, there will not be an STI version of the forthcoming WRX sports sedan as Subaru sets its performance target on electrification

Subaru has confirmed there will be no hardcore STI variant of the new-generation WRX.

The now-cancelled WRX STI was set to be revealed in 2023 and would likely have offered a more powerful version of the 202kW/350Nm 2.4-litre turbo-petrol flat-four found in the inbound WRX.

Those looking to add some visual edge to the new WRX will be able to do so with a suite of STI-branded parts seen adorning a grey car at this year’s Tokyo Autosalon including cherry red exterior accents, different alloy wheels, bigger exhaust tips and a massive wing. 

It was thought that this concept was hinting at the new WRX STI, however Subaru is instead focusing its performance division on the electric future.

Subaru WRX STI S4 performance concept on the stand
It was almost a foregone conclusion there would be another WRX STI, but Subaru has quashed those rumours

According to Subaru Australia managing director, Blair Read the brand’s choice not to rebirth the WRX STI with a combustion engine: “is a clear statement of the future performance direction of Subaru Corporation and Subaru Tecnica International. 

“The prospect of what the Subaru Tecnica International engineering team can do with an electrified platform ensures an exhilarating future for Subaru fans, and we look forward to sharing with you what STI reveal next.” 

Subaru Australia knows what an important halo the STI name is for the brand with absurd hype around it reflected by outgoing EJ25 Final Edition variants listing for between $100,000-200,0000 on the classifieds when the list price is $62,440 before on-road costs.

There have been reports and speculation about what could become of the new WRX STI, especially with Toyota reinvigorating the homologation special with the GR Yaris and popularity of upmarket takes on the AWD performance cars such as the Audi RS3.

So the WRX STI is dead?

The future of STI is going to look wildly different to the past, but it’s not only STI variants that have been fast WRXs.

Subaru WRX 2006
The ‘Hawk eye’ Impreza WRX featured the most convincing Club Spec package to date (not pictured)

Starting in 1995, Subaru’s Australian importer crafted special ‘Club Spec’ versions of the Impreza WRX that started with sticker packs, different interior trim and unique exterior colours, often limited to 200-300 units with numbered plaques.

In 2006 though, the ‘Hawk eye’ WRX was treated to comprehensive changes in Club Spec 9 guise with 15mm lower springs, a front lip spoiler, short shifter with aluminium gearknob and firmer suspension bushes all from the STI catalogue.

This was essentially an STI-lite and retained the 169kW/320Nm ‘EJ25’ 2.5-litre turbo petrol flat four instead of the STI’s frenetic 206kW/392Nm 2.0-litre ‘EJ20’. 

Perhaps the Club Spec recipe is due a comeback until STI’s electric era begins. Subaru Japan is already offering STI accessories for the new WRX that is due to launch here in Australia in the second quarter of the year.

What can we expect from the E-RA?

The STI E-RA is a study on the future of motorsport similar to the Porsche Mission R. Subaru’s E-RA boasts outputs of around 800kW thanks to a quartet of Yamaha manufactured electric motors which will bring the brand’s signature AWD feel into a zero-emissions future.

Subaru STI E-RA Concept 2022
Subaru says this wild race car concept is STI’s future with four motors and 800kW

The E-RA is also said to have a 60kWh lithium-ion battery pack that would equate to a range of 300km if the car is slippery enough to return 20kWh/100km, though at race pace this Tesla Model 3-rivalling energy consumption seems unlikely. 

Importantly the E-RA’s goal is in its name: the letters stand for “electric record attempt”. Subaru wants to set an EV record around Germany’s Nurburgring Nordschleife racetrack with a target time of 6 minutes 40 seconds.

Further details about the E-RA’s construction remain secret, but Subaru says this concept’s technology “will undoubtedly trickle down into its production car line-up in some form or another.”