For almost three decades, the Subaru WRX STI has been the darling of the street racer crowd. Spiritually, it is the successor to the Pontiac GTO. When he was the head of Pontiac, John Z. Delorean came up with the idea of stuffing a big V-8 engine under the hood of a mild-mannered sedan and watch the orders roll in. Subaru took that idea and ran with it to create the WRX.
It began as a hotted up version of the lowly Subaru Impreza intended for World Rally Competition, but the factory soon realized there was a demand for a high performance car in its model lineup. With a lowered suspension, all-wheel drive, and a turbocharged engine, it handled well and was quick in all forms of driving. The STI version added even more horsepower for more smiles per mile.
But now, Subaru says it is looking beyond internal combustion engines to electric powertrains. It has just announced its first battery-electric model, the Solterra, which sold out for the year in the first 48 hours. In a press release last week, the company said:
“As the automotive marketplace continues to move towards electrification, Subaru is focused on how our future sports and performance cars should evolve to meet the needs of the changing marketplace and the regulations and requirements for greenhouse gasses, zero emissions vehicles, and Corporate Average Fuel Economy.
“As part of that effort, Subaru Corporation is exploring opportunities for the next generation Subaru WRX STI, including electrification. In the meantime, a next generation internal combustion engine WRX STI will not be produced based upon the new WRX platform.
“The Subaru WRX STI and the STI brand represent the zenith of Subaru’s performance vehicles exemplifying Subaru’s unique DNA and rally heritage. As we look to the future, we also look forward to incorporating the essence of STI into our next generation of vehicles.”
Some readers my notice a similarity to the way Dodge is promising a bright electric future for its iconic muscle cars, which it promises will be the hairy-chested brutes the company is known for even if those big thumping V-8s are no longer bolted to the chassis at the factory. The Verge says the STI name may appear at some future time, just not on a gasoline powered car.
The infernal combustion engine is on its way out, but that’s no reason to think the electric cars of the future will be gutless econocars like those that followed the OPEC oil embargoes of the 70s. The future of transportation may be battery powered, but it won’t be dull.