At the 2015 New York Auto Show, Subaru unveiled a BRZ-based STI performance concept car and talked about expanding the STI brand’s presence in the U.S.
But talk and flashy concept cars are cheap. What does Subaru really have planned for STI in the United States?
“The United States is the highest priority for STI,” the brand’s president, Yoshio Hirakawa, said in a recent interview with Automotive News (subscription required).
That sounds pretty definitive. Subaru says STI is built around three “pillars” — complete cars, parts, and racing — and it reportedly plans to expand on all fronts.
STI branding was recently introduced for the performance parts previously sold through Subaru dealerships under the Subaru Performance Tuning name, as well as Subaru’s U.S. rally teams.
However, what fans really want is more STI-tuned performance models, beyond the current WRX STI.
The report claims the U.S. will get an STI version of the BRZ in “a couple of years,” but it may not have much in common with the current WRX STI, or the concept shown in New York.
Subaru already offers an STI-tuned version of its sports car called the BRZ tS in Japan. Compared to the WRX STI, the upgrades for this model are fairly light, focusing on style and handling rather than power.
It would be much easier for Subaru to simply import this model (and charge a premium for it) than develop an entirely new one.
Fans have been calling for a more powerful, turbocharged BRZ almost since the day the car launched. Subaru hasn’t shown any interest in building such a car yet, and there’s no reason for it to change tack now.
While a 300-horsepower BRZ would be great to see, this at least opens the door for a wider range of sportier Subaru models.
Subaru also sells a Forester tS in Japan, and it’s made several STI special editions with similar modifications. Any of those would spice up the company’s U.S. lineup, even if they might not set enthusiasts’ hearts on fire.
For years, Subaru has claimed STI is a full-on performance brand, but only those lucky enough to own a WRX STI have had any real contact with it. Imbuing more models with even a hint of that epic rally car’s attitude can’t be a bad thing.