Motorsport is a bit of a paradox—while the emotions experienced by the participants and the live audience alike are as intense as they get, conveying this to the people back home is no easy feat, which is why popularity rates for racing as a whole aren’t as high as they could be. One way to bridge that gap involves building road vehicles linked to racers. And few modern machines did the job better than the Subaru WRX STI, now a defunct model that’s been pixel-resurrected by a digital artist portraying the 2022/2023 STI that Subaru won’t build.
Having received an all-new iteration for the 2022 model year, the Subaru WRX has been praised for its dynamic driving experience and its seriously improved drivability. And while the AWD daily certainly has its public, the opinion-splitting design of its black wheel arches is not something one can easily overlook.
The WRX stops short of delivering a visceral driving experience as that was a job for the STI, but what do you do when the latter gets the axe due to the full power of the electrification era (more on this below)? Well, digital artist Siim Parn (aka spdesignsest) brewed his own 2022/2023 Subaru WRX STI, with this 2D work being quite convincing.
The traditional larger scoop and rear wing, redesigned bumpers, and fresh wheels, they’re all here. More importantly, the wider tracks have mandated a widebody approach, one that does away with the black plasticky parts of the WRX that make for the most polarizing aspect of the sedan.
The pixel master event introduced an orange approach alongside the traditional rally-borrowed blue-and-gold attire of the STI. And, thanks to the images in the gallery below, you can easily compare the virtual newcomer and the WRX base currently populating Subaru showrooms.
The STI has always been a sign of Subaru’s health
For nearly three decades (make that two for the U.S. market), the warm WRX and its hot STI version—the name stands for Subaru Tecnica International, the division handling motorsport and halo road cars—have brought Subaru’s rally game to the streets in spectacular AWD fashion.
Based on the Impreza until a couple of years ago, the range-topping STI stood for many things, from allowing its drivers to give supercar owners a difficult time whenever the weather was anything but sunny, to entering pop culture (e.g., Fast and Furious franchise, Ken Block) and generally pushing the growing JDM car culture further onto the international stage. No more, though—as of the past weekend, the STI is officially dead, as Subaru has issued a statement that states the all-new 2022 WRX is not getting the STI treatment.
Sure, one can always think about how the STI’s traditional nemesis, the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution, has been gone for over half a decade. Or, on a more positive note, those seeking rally-bred AWD thrills for the road can always turn to Toyota’s uber-impressive GR Yaris.
However, there’s no escaping the reality of the STI’s demise, especially with Subaru having already hinted at an electric future for the model.
The electric future
“Subaru Corporation is exploring opportunities for the next generation Subaru WRX STI, including electrification,” the press release bluntly states.
Nevertheless, it’s still unclear if the revival will could place within the lifetime of the current WRX or if the Japanese automaker is planning a later debut.
For one, Subaru only released its first battery-powered car last year, in the form of the Soltera crossover, which landed together with its Toyota bZ4X sister model. However, it continued the all-electric offensive back in January at the 2022 Tokyo Auto Salon, when Subaru Tecnica International presented the STi E-RA, an electric two-door mixing a prototype racer look with 800 kW (1,073 hp) and a projected Nurburgring lap time of 6:40.
Axing the Evo was part of a larger plan that was supposed to see Mitsubishi reinventing itself as a green automaker. Alas, the company seems to have lost its way meanwhile and we can only hope Subaru chooses a different path. Perhaps the company is gathering its force to develop a stellar electric STI that will be able to give will give the onslaught of battery-powered performance vehicles coming from both America and Europe a proper competitor.