The Subaru Crosstrek WRX: Why It Needs to Happen
Subaru is killing it these days. At least in terms of the sales game, that is. With most of its lineup consisting of small and midsize crossovers and SUVs, the brand has been right there to satisfy American’s unending appetite for those kinds of vehicles.
On the other hand, there hasn’t been a lot of action lately when it comes to the enthusiast side of Subaru’s lineup. The WRX and STI are aging and should be scheduled for replacement soon, the BRZ has seen only minor changes since its debut over six years ago and even the turbo version of the Forester was cancelled with its move to the new Subaru Global Platform.
Like most, we are anxiously awaiting to see what the future holds for the WRX and STI, but at the same time there’s another car that Subaru could sell that’d be a guaranteed enthusiast darling and build some major excitement for the brand: a WRX-powered Crosstrek.
More Than a Bigger Hatchback
The Crosstrek, if you didn’t know, is one of Subaru’s most popular models, and is essentially an Impreza hatchback with more ride height, larger tires and the rugged outdoorsy look that’s so popular right now.
Unlike a lot of other compact SUVs that are merely slightly higher riding hatchbacks, the Crosstrek is a pretty capable soft roader, thanks to 8.7 inches of ground clearance and Subaru’s famous symmetrical all-wheel drive system.
It’s no Jeep Wrangler when it comes to off-roading, but the Crosstrek has actually shown to do quite well, and its light weight and small footprint make it a great vehicle for exploring off the pavement.
Needs a Better Engine
There is, however, one thing that holds the Crosstrek back from being a truly exciting machine: its lack of power. Aside from the recently announced hybrid model that’s coming next year, all Crosstreks come powered by a 2.0L flat four engine that makes just 152hp and 145 lb-ft of torque.
While those numbers are adequate for many buyers in the segment, the lazy acceleration has been the biggest complaint from those who have driven and reviewed the Crosstrek. But the lack of power is something that wouldn’t be terribly hard to fix if Subaru wanted to.
The brand already has a 2.0L turbocharged flat four that powers the WRX. It makes 268hp, 258 lb-ft of torque and comes mated to either a six speed manual transmission or a CVT automatic—and dropping that engine in the Crosstrek would be a pretty straightforward engineering effort.
A Segment All Its Own
Not only would it instantly solve the issue of being underpowered, a 268 horsepower Crosstrek would be an instant hit, and it would essentially create a segment of its own.
Rather than a stiff riding, turbocharged hot hatch, the Crosstrek WRX would have a compliant ride, plenty of suspension travel and be as much fun in the dirt or snow as it is on the pavement. It would also still have all the practicality and adventuring ability the regular Crosstrek is known for.
Like the WRX, this turbocharged Crosstrek could be offered with a six-speed stick for those who want a proper rally experience or with the CVT for those who are just looking for a Crosstrek with more power under the hood.
The current Crosstrek starts at just under $23,000, and even if the turbo version started just below $30,000 it would still offer a lot of bang for the buck. Given the increasing popularity of rally and safari style builds for both Subarus and other cars, the Crosstrek WRX would be perfectly suited to today’s tastes. As for the exterior, the only change we'd suggest would be the addition of the WRX's signature hood scoop.
We’ve already seen a number of brands start shifting their performance DNA into crossovers and SUVs, and the idea of Crosstrek WRX sounds like the perfect way for Subaru to do that while still staying in line with its outdoorsy image and rally racing heritage. So what do you say guys? Make it happen.