Subaru’s STI Brand Isn’t Dead, But It Might As Well Be
The STI, as we know it, could be dead, but it may come back as a hybridby Dim Angelov, on LISTEN 03:03
When we talk about Subaru, STI is where all the action happens. Subaru Technica International is the Japanese brand’s division that’s responsible for all motorsports and performance-related projects. The division was founded in 1988, and while the first Subaru rally car was based on the Legacy, it was the Impreza that benefited the most from STI’s know-how. That said, while we are used to seeing the full-on STI version of Subaru’s compact sedan right after every WRX debuts, we might not be so lucky with the latest generation. This begs the question, what is Subaru’s STI brand up to?
The current-generation Subaru WRX was introduced in 2021 and did not exactly get thrilling responses. The new, FA24, 2.4-liter turbocharged flat-four came with 271 horsepower and 258 pound-feet (350 Nm), which is only slightly more than the outgoing model’s 268 horsepower and identical 258 pound-feet (350 Nm) from a smaller 2.0-liter turbocharged flat-four.
As for Subaru’s performance and motorsports division, Subaru Technical International (STI), the brand still exists, but it may as well be dead. Subaru already announced that the 2023 Subaru STI will not be happening due to the stricter emissions regulations. From start to finish, all generations of the Subaru STI relied on EJ25 and EJ20 engines, depending on the version and market.
Despite the FA24 engine being capable of reliable 450 wheel-horsepower on stock internals, as tested by Primemotoring, Subaru’s flat-four will probably not be featured in a full-on STI model anytime soon, at least not without hybridization. Subaru’s STI division is no longer participating in the World Rally Championship due to a change in regulations, forcing carmakers to switch to rally cars based on more affordable models with smaller engines.
For Subaru, this would mean developing an entirely new compact performance model for WRC homologation purposes, similar to how the Toyota GR Yaris came to be. If Subaru and Toyota were to cooperate on such a model, similar to what they did with the Toyota GR86 and Subaru BRZ twins, it could work. But, for now, Subaru sees more sense in hybridization.
With this in mind, Subaru Technica International is, currently, dead in the water. With the talk of Subaru’s flat-four becoming part of a hybrid powertrain, Subaru’s performance and motorsport division could be restructured in a way similar to what Volvo did with Polestar. This means that a future Subaru STI may be in the works again at some point, but with a hybrid-assisted flat-four, will it be the rugged, rally warrior we once knew?
Source: Car Expert