Subaru WRX Concept
Subaru has been teasing enthusiasts eager for any information on the next WRX for the past two years, promising that the new affordable, all-wheel-drive high-performance compact benchmark would drop the Impreza name and platform, boast at least 300 horsepower in STI trim, and get a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine. We even spied several WRX prototypes wearing current-gen Impreza bodies—but we haven’t had any hint as to what the next WRX would look like. Until now, that is, as Subaru finally has issued a preview of the car in the form of the WRX concept debuting at the 2013 New York auto show.
Rally Blue, On Crack
Subaru calls the WRX concept a design study, but it directly foreshadows the upcoming production car’s look with low, wide, and aggressive four-door sedan bodywork. It’s rife with blisters, bulges, and creases, and resembles nothing else in Subaru’s lineup.
We see a lot of Subaru’s Impeza concept—which was far more interesting-looking than the production Impreza turned out to be—and Advanced Tourer concept in the WRX show car, but overall it’s far burlier and even more attrractive. An arcing, tight greenhouse—complete with a carbon-fiber roof panel with a faint double-bubble effect—sits atop a chunky body defined by impressively wide-set fender arches. The vertical front fender vent gapes wider than it does on the current production model and sets off a pair of character lines that define the rocker panels and the car’s shoulder line.
Up front, Subaru’s hexagonal grille is set low in the fascia and below a cleanly integrated hood scoop. Sleek, BRZ-like headlights bookend the grille, and the lower intakes are large and set wide in the bumper. The C-shaped taillights add visual width to the rear end, and we’re having trouble looking at those yellow-tipped quad exhaust outlets and meaty diffuser without getting aroused. Intriguingly, and perhaps a sign that the next WRX will arrive with more upmarket aspirations than before, the rear wing is subtly integrated into the trunklid. For those worried that Subaru is abandoning its rally heritage by forgoing the WRX’s signature giant rear wing, note that the paint color is a new take on Subaru’s classic World Rally Blue dubbed WR Blue Pearl III.
The concept sits on a gorgeous set of 20-inch BBS RI-D forged wheels, and the giant brakes that sit behind them feature calipers rendered in the same bright yellow as the exhaust tips and WRX badge in the grille. Size-wise, the WRX concept is a mere 2.3 inches shorter than a 2012 Impreza sedan, but its wheelbase is stretched an extra 4.6 inches, proportions that would aid stability and perhaps ride quality in the eventual production version. The concept also is a heck of a lot wider—by 5.9 inches—than the humdrum Impreza, and three inches lower.
While Subaru isn’t yet offering firm details on the concept’s mechanicals, we know that all-wheel drive and a turbocharged 2.0-liter engine are destined for the next WRX. In fact, the WRX’s engine—basically a turbocharged version of the 2.0-liter boxer four from the BRZ sports car—recently debuted in a Japanese-market Legacy sedan with 296 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque. We’ll take it, although we figure the WRX will make a little less than that and the STI a little more. We also expect Subaru to restore order to the WRX lineup, as the current Rex is actually quicker to 60 mph than the pricier STI.
Also, while this concept is being shown as a sedan, we wouldn’t be surprised if the production car also offered a five-door body style, as does the current-generation model. With Subaru finally showing off this stylistic sneak peek, the production model likely isn’t too far away—look for the new rally rocket to debut within a year, likely as a 2015 model.