Despite its blemished reputation by those who mistreat it, the Subaru WRX STi will always have a special place in our hearts. Images of McRae sliding through turns in his Subaru are permanently burnt into our memories. Aside from the emotions the STi invokes, it’s hard to deny that it packs some unique and interesting rally-bred features.
Innovation from Subaru has been stagnant. The base WRX sees a new FA-series twin-scroll turbo motor suitable for everyday driving, while the STi is stuck with the EJ making only 35 more horsepower. At a price difference of nearly $9,000, the WRX is easily the better buy for those shopping AWD sedans. Subaru’s sales metrics lump the two cars together, so it’s difficult to say exactly how well the WRX is outselling its more expensive brother.
Besides the conundrum of a better offering from Subaru eating the sales of the STi, Subaru’s turbo sedan is facing rapid innovation from its competitors in every segment. When the STi was first released, it had a favorable power-to-weight ratio compared to a Mustang GT. It’s a different story now. The Golf R and Focus RS offer refinement and hatchback practicality. Subaru needs to come up with something good to reclaim the throne.
The current offerings from Ford showcase what’s possible with four cylinders and a turbo. The Focus RS with is 2.3l turbo make 350 horsepower from the factory. The Mustang Ecoboost with Ford’s optional Power Pack makes up to 410 horsepower. Perhaps it would take a complete drivetrain overhaul to see this kind of power from an H4 that you could put a factory warranty on, but maybe it would be worth it.
Better Fuel Economy
This is the antithesis of the last point, but 15 MPG city is hard to live with. The twin-scroll turbo technology that Subaru has already been implementing in its FA motors may light the path to better fuel economy for the STi. This may necessitate an aero redesign, but we wouldn’t complain about simplifying and streamlining the STi’s jumbled overall look.
You knew it was coming. For Subaru to stick its head in the sand and ignore the demand for some extra practicality from the rally-bred sedan is to miss out on a whole lot of sales. More sales for them would mean more options from the dealer and second hand sales for the enthusiasts. Also important to note is that many WRX/STi owners are looking to maximize their value with a hatchback since the car is often their daily driver. Heck, you couldn’t even buy a Focus RS or Golf R in sedan form if you wanted to.
The most glaring problem with the STi is how difficult it is to find. Higher availability could very well mean more sales across the board for it and drive down the value of those sweet, sweet used STis. This would make the rolling the dice on a used Subaru purchase somewhat more manageable.
Maybe the WRX needs a direct competitor close to its price point. Subaru’s reluctance to adapt is confusing. We hope they’ll come back swinging in the near future. Because we want the STi to stick around.
Source: Subaru U.S. Media Center