Subaru’s recent announcement that it wouldn’t be offering a high performance STI version of the new 2022 WRX has left a big cloud of Impreza-shaped disappointment over the portion of the internet inhabited by car fans.
We’d been prepared to cut Subaru some slack over the unremarkable power figures of the WRX’s new, 400 cc-larger engine on the understanding that there was more to come for those that wanted it. The 2023 WRX’s 2.4 liter boxer motor is rated at 271 hp (275 PS) and 258 lb-ft (349 Nm) of torque, which isn’t much better than the 268 hp (272 PS) and 258 lb-ft (349 Nm) delivered by the old 2.0-liter car. But rumors suggested the STI would come in at around 300 horses.
Instead, we get nothing. A Subaru spokesmen told Road & Track that the automaker couldn’t justify creating a new WRX STI for a market that’s rapidly switching to electric power. “If we designed [a new STI] now, it would have a very limited shelf life,” Subaru director of corporate communications Dominick Infante said. “The regulations are changing so quickly that it kind of wouldn’t make any sense.”
That’s the situation in the U.S., but in Japan you can still buy a WRX STI. Kind of. The catch is it’s not a standalone model with distinct mechanical upgrades like we’re accustomed to seeing. It’s essentially a trim level that adds extra equipment to the Japanese-market WRX S4. The S4 is simply Japans’s version of the WRX and shares the same basic engine as the North American car, but gets a 18 lb-ft (25 Nm) torque boost.
Related: Subaru Looks Back At Five Generations Of WRX
The WRX S4 is available in four trim levels, GT-H, GT-H EX, STI Sport R, and STI Sport R EX, the STI-badged variants getting Recaro front seats upholstered in Ultra Suede, red stitching, carbon-look trim and aluminum pedals. STI versions also get an 11.6-inch touchscreen for the Starlink infotainment system and a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster which is not fitted to U.S. cars or the low-spec GT-H Japanese cars. Subaru also recently unveiled STI concepts based on the WRX S4, BRZ and Levorg at the Tokyo Auto Salon, each wearing bold aero add-ons.
That compares with the U.S. WRX, which is available in base, Premium, Limited and GT forms. Higher spec versions get much of the same technology as the Japanese STI-badged car, but no STI identification. But maybe that could (should?) change. In the absence of a true standalone STI would you like to see the STI badge appear as a trim level on U.S. cars, or would that be a disgrace to a once-great name? Leave a comment and let us know.