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First look: Subaru STicks a blowtorch to WRX

Wide boy: Subaru's bulked-up 2011 Impreza WRX is set to debut at the New York motor show.

Facelifted STi-look Impreza WRX to emerge at New York ahead of Australian release

Subaru logo23 Mar 2010

By MARTON PETTENDY

SUBARU has revealed a tough new wide-body version of its iconic Impreza WRX sedan and hatch, which could lead to a long-awaited four-door version of hard-core STi itself.

The facelifted STi-look WRX – which appears to differ only slightly from the current STi hatch – was revealed today, ahead of its official world public debut at the New York motor show on April 1.

The aggressive new STi-sourced bodywork and wider wheel tracks, which apply only to the WRX version of the latest Impreza sedan and hatch, effectively amounts to a midlife makeover for the turbocharged Impreza models.

Both the MY11 Impreza WRX sedan and hatch have been confirmed for release in Australia late this year, in an effort to further differentiate the turbocharged WRX (and STi) from garden-variety Impreza variants.

While local Subaru officials would not confirm it, the emergence of a four-door WRX with only a slightly different grille and bumper treatment from the current STi hatch means Subaru is almost certain to produce a successor to the previous-generation MY07 WRX STi sedan, which was discontinued in August 2007.

2 center imageLeft: Current Impreza WRX sedan and hatch (top) and current Subaru WRX STi hatch. Bottom: New-look 2011 WRX sedan could preview first STi sedan in more than two years.

The current STi joined the latest Impreza range as a hatch-only model in February 2008, while an upgraded MY09 WRX hatch and new WRX sedan arrived in December that year in response to customer demand for a more powerful 2.5-litre turbo four and firmer suspension. The sedan has always accounted for the lion’s share of WRX sales in Australia.

“We’ve had a very good response to the power upgrade for the WRX, which brought it more in line with customer expectations,” said Subaru Australia national corporate affairs manager David Rowley.

Pricing and specifications of the wide-body WRX sedan and hatch will be announced at the time of the late-2010 release in Australia.

Subaru Australia managing director Nick Senior said the wider flared wheel-arches, wider front and rear wheel tracks and new front and rear bumpers and grille treatment of the STi-look WRX would not apply to non-turbo Imprezas.

“This new look gives the iconic Impreza WRX even greater presence in a package which has already won accolades for its turbocharged Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive ability,” said Mr Senior.

“This design further distinguishes our turbo Impreza variants, including the Impreza WRX STi, from the normally aspirated versions, which we’re sure will please the many loyal WRX fans out there.”

While the base 110lW/196Nm 2.0R hatch and sedan open the Impreza range at $23,490, the 195kW/343Nm 2.5-litre turbo WRX hatch and sedan currently cost $39,990. The top-shelf WRX STi hatch, meantime, produces 221kW and 407Nm, and is priced at $61,990 – or $66,990 in Spec R guise.

The Impreza was the only model in Subaru’s exclusively all-wheel drive Australian model range to increase sales last year, but is 28.4 per cent less popular so far in 2010.

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