Subaru will carry on its storied STi badge into a new generation, with confirmation that it is developing a fifth-generation WRX STi.
Details are scarce, but it’ll be based on Subaru’s modular platform, and will likely carry over a revised version of its venerable 2.5-litre four-cylinder turbocharged flat-four engine to fire a minimum of 250kW at all four wheels.
As well, there's a distinct possibility that the next-generation car will add an electric element to its powertrain, creating Subaru's first-ever petrol/electric hybrid WRX STi.
The Subaru Viziv Performance STi prototype from 2018
While it would be amazing to see a return to the halcyon days of the limited-edition two-door STi from the late 1990s, a four-door sedan body shape is a more likely reality.
The news comes as Subaru marks the sale of the 10,000th WRX STi in Australia.
Debuting in 1999 with the arrival of 400 Australia-specific 206kW two-door WRX STis, the high-performance version of the stock WRX sedan opened eyes – and wallets – across the country as people looked to them as alternatives to cars like the HSV ClubSport and performance Ford Falcons of the era.
SWEET DREAMS Subaru WRX STi 23B
It also invited stiff competition from Japanese rivals Mitsubishi, whose Lancer Evolutions provided a semi-regular rival to Subaru’s dominance of the all-wheel-drive turbocharged sedan sector.
The two-doors – which now fetch hefty premiums in the second-hand market – was followed by 400 four-door versions, before Subaru added it to the line-up permanently in 2001.
In 2008, the third-generation WRX STI came in entry-level and spec.R variants, which carried through until 2014 when the 221kW Subaru WRX STi – the Impreza branding was dropped – debuted.
The bloke who bought WRX STi #10,000 is NSW’s Bradley McManus, who scored $5000 of accessories and a ride with Subaru ambassador and 2016 Australian rally champion Molly Taylor.
“WRX STI really is the essence of Subaru performance and arguably the ultimate expression of race on Sunday, sell on Monday,” said Subaru Australia chief Blair Read.
“Those iconic blue and gold colours along with champion names Possum Bourne and Colin McRae, win performance car lovers hearts to this day.
“It’s the pinnacle of our performance range, combining exhilarating power with pure control. A complete package – and it’s an absolute thrill to drive.”
AUSTRALIAN WRX STI – A HISTORY
Impreza WRX 22B STI is released in Japan. Just 425 examples were built
One-off production run of 400 limited edition Impreza WRX STI two-door coupes, followed by 400 limited edition four-door Impreza WRX STI sedans. Available in white or blue, with 16-inch gold rims
The STI variant became an ongoing part of the Impreza WRX range, on launch of the second generation.
Third generation Impreza WRX STI launched, offering a second choice in the range, with both entry-level and spec.R variants.
Fourth-generation WRX STI launched, for the first time offering the rear spoiler as a delete option and dropping the Impreza nameplate.
10,000th WRX STI is old in Australia.