The next-generation Subaru WRX STI is slowly coming into shape, and a report from Motoring Australia indicates that Subaru’s got a few surprises up its sleeve for the performance-oriented sedan when it makes its debut in 2017.

The report follows an announcement made by Subaru CEO Yasuyuki Yoshinaga at the Tokyo Motor Show, pertaining to the use of the company’s new Subaru Global Platform for the next WRX STI. That’s not all that surprising considering that the new platform is already being prepared to be used by other Subaru models, including the sedan and hatchback versions of the next-generation Impreza. The real eyebrow raiser are the reports saying that the next-gen WRX STI will be using a hybrid powertrain.

Yep. Subaru’s all-conquering, power-packed, performance model will go hybrid. According to Motoring Australia, the Japanese automaker is preparing to take this step in an effort to hit two birds with one stone, which in this case would be to radically improve the sedan’s fuel economy while also maintaining its renowned performance capabilities. As such, Subaru is reportedly working on a new powertrain that will feature a modified version of its 2.0-liter turbocharged engine and an electric motor, incorporated together to power the new WRX STI. The resulting output of the new engine setup would be around 322 horsepower, close to 20 ponies more than the current WRX STI. The next-gen model will also reportedly get a dual-clutch, six-speed automated manual transmission, which, when combined with the hybrid powertrain, would be able to post fuel economy figures of around 36.2 mpg. If that number proves to be accurate, that would come close to doubling the 19mpg combined fuel mileage of the current model. It would even post a better number than the combined 30-mpg rating of the CVT-equipped Impreza sedan.

Other than this admittedly revealing revelation pertaining to the possible powertrain of the next WRX STI, the new model is also expected to get a dramatic cosmetic makeover. Apparently, the new WRX STI will receive a sportier look, highlighted by heavily flared fenders and a large rear wing. Carbon fiber air ducts and a new rear diffuser are also believed to be part of the new design.

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Why it matters

Talk about being torn on both sides. That’s where I found myself when I learned of this report. On the one hand, Subaru is within its rights to make a dramatic overhaul on the WRX STI. Yes, that includes the kind of engine it wants to put under the car’s hood. Using a hybrid system to power the next WRX STI is also a smart move since it can result in achieving top-range fuel economy while also keeping its performance identity intact.

On the other hand, there is that matter of perception, which admittedly varies from person to person. In my case, I don’t know if the WRX STI should be “hybridized”, if only for the simple reason that it’s the WRX STI. It’s a legacy model that should be kept intact in order to preserve its legacy. Yes, it’s a short-sighted view that goes against the current trend in the auto industry. But, I just think that if there’s one Subaru model that would be exempt from receiving hybrid technology, it would be the WRX STI.

Everything else about the move makes sense and if I was Subaru and I’m more concerned about stepping into the next stage of engine development, I would push for a hybrid engine too. It’s just that the WRX STI fan in me is cringing at that thought.

Subaru WRX STI

2015 - 2016 Subaru WRX STI Exterior
- image 537610

Read more about the Subaru WRX STI here.

Source: Motoring

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