Subaru is finally getting serious about transforming its STI division into a full-fledged, performance-focused sub-brand. STI boss Yoshio Hirakawa recently revealed that the Japanese automaker has approved both the development of at least three stand-alone STI models, and the launch of a long list of aftermarket parts for virtually all current members of its lineup.
Speaking to Australian website Motoring, Hirakawa explained the next STI-badged model will most likely be a faster version of the Legacy sedan. The executive stopped short of revealing precisely what will lie under the hood, but he hinted that a turbocharged evolution of the stock model’s 2.5-liter flat-four engine is a likely possibility. However, an STI-tuned version of the Legacy-based Outback wagon has been categorically ruled out.
The Levorg that’s sold in a handful of global markets — including Japan and Europe — will also receive the STI treatment. Since it’s based on the WRX, it’s not too far-fetched to speculate that the sportier version of Subaru’s smallest wagon will get a 2.5-liter turbocharged flat-four engine tuned to make 305 horsepower at 6,000 rpm and 290 pound-feet of torque at 4,000 rpm. The engine will be plucked straight from the WRX STI (pictured) parts bin.
Surprisingly, Hirakawa admitted that STI is developing a more powerful version of the BRZ, a slow-selling coupe that’s also sold as the Scion FR-S. While Subaru can’t equip the BRZ with a regular, exhaust-driven turbocharger due to space constraints, the automaker’s engineers are looking at fitting the four-cylinder engine with a state-of-the-art electric turbocharger that’s a lot more compact. The technology is under study, but it hasn’t been given the green light for production yet.
Hirakawa explains that STI-badged cars need more than a few extra ponies under the hood. Moving forward, all STI models will get thorough suspension upgrades designed to noticeably improve handling, brake modifications and a better-sounding exhaust system. Additionally, his team is working hard to ensure Subaru’s CVT transmission is up to the task of powering a model that has been massaged by STI.
“I want [the CVT] to feel more like a manual gearbox. It should launch faster and have a more positive shift feel,” said Hirakawa.
Now, for the bad news. Although Subaru wants STI to become a global brand, there’s no indication that the company will sell the Legacy STI on our shores, and the Levorg STI won’t make the trip across the Pacific because the regular model isn’t sold here.