Remember the drama around removing the “Skyline” prefix from the GT-R when the all-new supercar debuted in late 2007? Well, it looks like nomenclature surgery is about to happen again, only this time Subaru is doing the separating. That’s right, the Impreza and famed WRX — joined at the hip since 1992 — are going their separate ways.
While the new production Impreza debuted at this year’s New York Auto Show, the next WRX will take a completely different path of development and will not surface until 2014. We know this because Subaru president Ikuo Mori said at a recent shareholder’s meeting: “We will launch a new sporty car in 2014.” The WRX is that car.
In the past week, we have learned from a source just how different the new WRX will be to the Impreza, employing totally different components.
This image, revealing how one artist sees the new WRX, depicts a new coupe model with a shorter wheelbase and heavy-duty bodywork It’s important to note that this is just one vision of the new car, it may turn out to look much different. Our source also tells us Subaru bosses haven’t decided if the WRX name will survive. For the time being, we’ll refer to it as WRX.
“Apart from a few nuts and bolts, every part on the WRX will be unique. Even the engine and body. Obviously the WRX’s platform will be inherited from the new Impreza, but it will be radically modified and significantly shortened,” says our source.
From now on, the Impreza will be the company’s core model, boasting a fuel-efficient, naturally aspirated 2.0-liter boxer engine. The car’s wheelbase has been slightly lengthened, while the A-pillar has been brought forward to maximize interior space and comfort levels. At this point, it is unclear if Subaru will attempt an Impreza-based performance model to bridge the gap until the new WRX arrives, but it appears unlikely.
“Up until now, the Impreza and WRX used many common parts, which translated into entry-level Imprezas that were over-engineered,” the source continued. The basic chassis and suspension had to employ certain parts needed for the WRX. That drove costs up, and many entry-level customers did not want or understand the significance of such high-tech parts, stresses our insider.
The WRX, on the other hand, will employ the very best from Subaru’s parts bin, starting with an updated version of the company’s rally-proven AWD system and a turbocharged boxer engine.
“The first thing you must understand about our all-new WRX is that we have developed it from the ground up to win in motorsports events. That’s why we have focused so heavily on weight issues, not to mention a shorter wheelbase that permits faster, more precise turn-in. Marry that to our proven AWD system, and we think we have a winner,” explains our source.
If you look at the Sebastien Loeb’s multiple-championship-winning Citroen C4 in the World Rally Championship, you can see where Subaru is coming from — or going to. They want to build a WRX that can beat the Citroen while still offering driving enthusiasts something special for their garages. The company has pulled out of WRC, but with the new WRX, a return looks possible. Above the WRX, Subaru will still offer a low-production flagship STI, a model our source calls a “race car for the road.”
“Obviously the rally model will be based on the top-of-the-line STI car, but unlike previous Impreza WRXs, this new WRX will be more hard-core and less forgiving on bumpy road surfaces,” adds our source. Collaboration with Toyota on the FT-86 project also seems to have something to do with the direction of the new WRX and STI. “If the truth be known, we were able to focus so deeply on the motorsports element with the new WRX because we developed a sister car with the Toyota FT-86. Bosses gave us permission to go all out because that car exists,” says our insider.
Our source also revealed what is going on in the bowels of Subaru’s R&D. On the short list for the WRX’s powerplant is a turbocharged 1.6-liter boxer pumping as much as 270 hp, and a twin-charger system involving a supercharger is being tested as well. The car’s body is rumored to be a little bigger than a Toyota Yaris, while its tread width is said to expand significantly. As for the STI, we are told that the flagship will also employ the WRX’s 1.6-liter boxer turbo, but that the engine will be reworked to generate upwards of 300 hp for motorsport competitiveness.
Subaru bosses see the new WRX initially competing in domestic rallies and gymkhanas, but they are also targeting Europe’s World Touring Car Championships as well as the long-awaited return to the WRC.
Bottom line? Get used to saying Subaru WRX (most of us enthusiasts do, anyway). Expect unprecedented levels of AWD handling and performance at a bargain price — the vehicle should land in showrooms in roughly two years in the $26,000-$29,000 range.