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Next-gen Subaru WRX, BRZ not coming before 2020

Rex appeal: Revealed at the Tokyo Auto Salon in January this year, the Viziv Performance STI concept hints at what the next-generation WRX STI may look like.

Subaru sets new performance range – including WRX halo model – for next decade

4 Jul 2018


FANS of Subaru’s WRX and BRZ sportscars will have to wait until at least 2020 before replacements for the two models are revealed, while hybridisation is becoming increasingly likely for the former.
Speaking to GoAuto last week during the fifth-generation Forester international media launch at the Cycle Sports Centre in Shizuoka, Japan, Subaru Australia managing director Colin Christie confirmed that “there’s a fair bit of product news coming in the next two to three years”.
“Subaru’s been very clear that there will absolutely be a performance range moving forward,” he said.
“In terms of what’s next, we don’t know or haven’t made the final decision as to what that’s going to look like, but there’s certainty product coming.”
When questioned exactly when the new WRX will break cover and enter Australian showrooms, Mr Christie explained that it will not happen before the turn of the decade.
“All I can say is it won’t be (in) 2019. We’re obviously too close now for it to be ready for then. I’m not exactly sure (when). We haven’t finalised when we’ll bring it to market yet,” he said.
Given that the next WRX will share its underpinnings with the fifth-generation Impreza small car, it is possible that the former will feature some form of hybridisation, whether it be a mild or plug-in set-up.
As previously reported, the Subaru Global Platform (SGP) employed by both of these models supports all types of powertrains, ranging from internal-combustion to battery-electric.
Subaru Australia has already confirmed that mild-hybrid versions of the XV small and Forester mid-size SUVs will launch by early 2020 (see separate story), meaning the WRX could be the next model in line for such treatment.
If the WRX follows the XV and Forester’s lead and goes mild-hybrid, it should feature an e-Boxer powertrain that combines a boxer petrol engine with an electric motor and a lithium-ion battery pack that is recharged via regenerative braking.
In the SUVs’ application, this set-up provides an electric boost at lower speeds, helping to improve performance by filling in gaps in the output delivery.
Additionally, its coasting function switches off the engine to save fuel and reduce emissions at certain speeds, which assists in meeting the stricter WLTP regulations currently being introduced in Europe.
Styling-wise, the new WRX is expected to adopt some of its exterior cues from the Viziv Performance concept revealed at the Tokyo motor show in October last year.
Meanwhile, the prospects of a second-generation BRZ are less clear, as Subaru entered a joint-venture with Toyota for the current model, which also resulted in the 86 twin-under-the-skin.
Subaru may decide to instead develop the next BRZ on its own, or move in an entirely different direction, perhaps with a separate sportscar model afforded by the versatility of SGP.
The current WRX was outed in November 2013 before being facelifted in January 2017, while the BRZ made its international debut exactly two years earlier ahead of its mid-life upgrade in May 2016.
Sales of the WRX have been steady this year, with 1181 examples sold to the end of June, up 0.2 per cent, while the BRZ has found 397 homes, up 13.4 per cent, during the same period.

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