Subaru’s Tokyo-bound concepts look mean, but they’re more show than go

Subaru will travel to the 2019 Detroit Auto Show to unveil a hotter evolution of the WRX STI. While we patiently wait for the veil to come off, the Japanese firm is whetting our appetite by showing two design-led, production-car-based concepts ahead of their scheduled debut at a major trade show in Japan.

Called Forester STI e-Boxer, the first concept takes the gasoline-electric variant of Subaru’s popular crossover in a more dramatic direction. STI, Subaru’s in-house tuner, installed a full body kit that includes a deeper front bumper with larger air dams, winglets ahead of the front wheels, side skirts, and a sporty-looking insert in the rear bumper. We wish STI had added a second exhaust outlet to complete the look, but even without it the STI e-Boxer concept looks more menacing than the Forester Sport sold in American showrooms.

Though technical specifications remain vague, the e-Boxer concept is more show than go. Motor Authority reports that power comes from a hybrid powertrain similar to the one found in the Crosstrek Hybrid, but without the plug. It’s built around a 2.0-liter, flat-four engine rated at 143 horsepower and an electric motor that contributes another 13 hp. Without providing numbers, Subaru notes the hybrid powertrain is on par with its bigger, 2.5-liter flat-four in terms of performance, but it returns better fuel economy. Those hoping for WRX STI-like performance to complement the Forester’s rally-esque style will be sorely disappointed.

The second concept Subaru will unveil in Tokyo started life as a standard Impreza. It received roughly the same treatment as the Forester. STI tacked on a full body kit, dropped the car on bigger alloy wheels, and sprinkled a full set of emblems as a finishing touch. The hatchback receives a two-tone paint job, and Motor Authority notes the cabin boasts red leather upholstery. Subaru hasn’t released technical specifications, which leads us to speculate everything under the sheet metal is bone stock.

Subaru will unveil both design-oriented concepts during the 2019 Tokyo Auto Salon that opens its doors on January 11. Neither concept has been confirmed for production yet. On this side of the pond, we’ll see the latest version of the WRX STI in the metal on January 14, the first day of the 2019 Detroit Auto Show.

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