The rumors are flying around more than usual in the automotive industry right now, and the big shocker right now is that Subaru supposedly is going to make the WRX STI a hybrid for 2017. Thankfully Ferrari, Porsche and McLaren have shattered the image of boring, slow hybrid cars, but this rumor still has upset some fans.
This latest juicy tidbit comes from the land Down Under, or more specifically from a website called Motoroing. Supposedly, the 2.0-liter FA20 box flat-four engine will be joined in a new union with a single electric motor. That setup is rumored to bump total system output to 326 horsepower, or about 21 additional horsepower when compared to the 2.5-liter EJ257 engine currently used in the WRX STI.
With the extra weight of the electric motor and accompanying equipment, there is some room for doubt about these details. Of course, Subaru could be applying carbon fiber, aluminum or other lightweight materials to different parts of the car to compensate for that.
The report from Motoroing also claims that the all-wheel-drive system will have a “motor drive” feature. That means the rear axle will receive power from the electric motor only, which seems to mean the car would be a “through the road” hybrid, a setup that’s been used on other vehicles as a way to save weight and eliminate engineering complexities.
Sending power to at least the front wheels reportedly is a six-speed automated dual-clutch manual transmission. If that’s true, it’d be a first for a production Subaru.
One other piece of information: a plug-in version is said to be in the works. All of these changes, if true, would certainly signal that Subaru is dead serious about diving into hybrid powertrains. The SGP platform the WRX STI will ride on has been designed to accommodate battery packs and electric motors, so this rumor isn’t too horribly far-fetched. The Impreza will share the platform, so it’s still possible that only that model will be offered as a hybrid.
Considering the continually rising fuel economy standards set by CAFE, Subaru has to get serious about alternative fuels. A fully-electric or maybe even a hydrogen fuel cell Subaru likely isn’t too far off in the future.