Monday, January 2, 2017

2018 WRX STI: Separating the Speculation

While we could easily re-label the "Information Age" that we live in as the misinformation age, there's some recent hype surrounding news of the next generation WRX STI that can be sorted out with information we already have.  It's time to provide a well-needed fact check with a grain silo of salt to take this in with.  Simply follow the pattern and take in the plans that have been in motion for years.

Literally every "hype" article I've read about whatever reports claim to know what the STI has coming for it is lacking significant information regarding how things play into Subaru's "Prominence 2020" plan.  It's been the blueprint for where Subaru is headed for the next few years.  Part of that blueprint clearly highlights development goals through the years as they switch all current engine platforms to Direct Injection.  The iconic 2.5 liter turbocharged Boxer 4 in the WRX STI is a bit of a dinosaur.  It's the last Subaru to hang on to the decades-old EJ series engine (everything else has moved on to the FA or FB platform) which is still port injected.  Nearly all of Subarus other engines have either switched or will switch to direct injection on the newer engines.  Aside from Fuel Efficiency standards that would threaten the EJ dinosaur, there's been a longstanding demand from a growing number of enthusiasts to move on.  It's a reasonable request, considering that the US Market has had nearly the same powerplant in the WRX STI since 2004.

When sources note that the "New WRX is at least four years away", it actually falls right in line with the current 5-year cycle that Subaru typically follows, although they've cleverly made use of some timeline skewing.  The Four Years claim starts with the fact that most of those articles were written at the end of 2016.  However, in the realm of "model years", meaning that a 2020 model would likely be released in the year 2019, we can  easily make this look like a four-year gap between now and when we'd get the new WRX.  How shocking!

It's now 2017, so we can shave an entire year off that claim.  And since a 2020 model would be released in the previous year, we shave another year off that claim.  Suddenly we've only got two years to wait for the new WRX and WRX STI to make their way to their next big design change, which falls right in line with the current trend Subaru has been following.

Sources note that the 2018 WRX STI will still be based on the current platform, which follows their 5-year cycle.  The Forester, Impreza, Legacy, and Outback lineups have been following this to a "T" for several years.  When a new generation is released, like the 2012 Impreza starting off the 4th Gen, a "refresh" is released after 3 years that tweaks some aesthetic and infotainment features.  It's exactly the formula the 4th Generation WRX is following.  2015-2017 models are nearly the same.  2018 and 2019 models will have a redesigned front end and some tweaked bits for the interior.  WRX and WRX STI will have completed their scheduled end and move to the Subaru Global Platform as a 2020 model, once again coinciding with the plan I mentioned before.

The way this recent flurry of articles are written, they appear surprised that the WRX isn't already taking a swing at the new platform that the 2017 Impreza just debuted.  That doesn't stop photoshop artists from taking a swing at WRX-ifying the new 5th Generation 2017 Impreza to look the part of Subaru's iconic hoonigan.  It happened for years after the 4th Generation 2012 Impreza was released.

Yes, it's true that the 2017 Impreza is built upon the new Subaru Global Platform (SGP) and that it will ultimately be found under nearly every Subaru car.  It's simply not the turn of the WRX to switch to it yet.  The next car slated to take on the SGP is the new 2018 Crosstrek, which should be released later in 2017.  The Forester will hang on to the previous design for 2018 and make the switch to the SGP the following year.  After that, the Outback, Legacy, and WRX would be slated to complete their 5-year Cycles and take on the new platform as 2020 models, likely to be released in 2019.  No crystal ball needed.  No made-up facts.  No speculation based on rumors misheard from a representative in passing.  With a methodical company like Subaru, figuring this stuff out is pretty easy to do.

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