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Subaru WRX STI concept confirms obnoxious wing will stay

By Tony O'Kane, 10 Jan 2018 News

Subaru long nw

Subaru will slip the sheets off its most overtly sporty concept yet at the Tokyo Auto Salon, but is the next WRX STI really going to go down the hybrid path?

FEAR NOT, boy racers of Australia, for if Subaru’s hot new concept for this year’s Tokyo Auto Salon is any indication, then the next-generation WRX STI will continue to have a large n’ lairy box wing bolted to its bootlid.

The Japanese carmaker released a pair of teaser images today showing the Subaru Viziv Performance STI Concept in relative clarity, as far as teaser pics go. That’s no surprise, given the car it’s based on – the Viziv Performance Concept – was revealed in full at the 2017 Tokyo Motor Show last October. However the appearance of an STI-labelled version of that concept practically confirms that the duo are harbingers of the current WRX and WRX STI’s replacements.

The basic form factor remains, with the Viziv’s four-door sedan bodyshell featuring a long bonnet with a gaping bonnet vent up front, a short rear bootlid and, for the STI Concept, an appropriately obnoxious rear wing at its tail end. The concept’s side glass also suggests frameless door windows could make a comeback for Subaru’s performance sedan pair, but we have the nagging feeling that’ll get nixed for the production car.

Elsewhere there are typical STI flourishes like red (or is that pink?) details around the grille, prominent STI badging, deeper front bumper apertures and pronounced side skirts. The end plates of that big ol’ wing also feature smaller winglets sprouting from the side, presumably to further aid visibility to your local constabulary.

We’ll get the full view of the Viziv Performance STI Concept when the doors open at the Tokyo Auto Salon this weekend, however what’s expected to be under the bonnet of the eventual production car remains secret.

Speculation is rife that the next STI will make the move to a hybrid layout – something entirely possible given growing adoption of electrified powertrains in performance cars, and facilitated by the hybrid-ready attributes of the SGP platform that will underpin all future Subarus.

But is the next-generation car, which is expected to debut next year, really going to rock a high-voltage battery? Documents seen by Wheels (see in gallery above) suggest that may still be more than a generation away, with the current car’s familiar 2.0-litre and 2.5-litre boxer fours apparently locked in for the next WRX and WRX STI.

There’s no mention of hybridisation, though the comparatively short four-year production forecast suggests that the next WRX and WRX STI may have a shorter lifespan than normal in order to introduce a more technologically-sophisticated replacement in 2023.

Is that prediction on the money? We’ll find out next year, when Subaru’s enticingly aggressive concept morphs into a showroom-ready sports sedan. For now though, we’ll just celebrate the fact that huge wings are here to stay.