A bit over a week ago the next-gen Subaru WRX was seen in circulation at the Nürburgring. Today Autocar brings word that the WRX will not be sold in the UK. The reason given by Subaru UK is a little alarming, we think.
Subaru is now “primarily an SUV brand”, so says Paul Tunnicliffe, Managing Director of the official importer of Subaru to the UK.
Tunnicliffe added that emissions targets are partly to blame, “Things are now in a different place. That market is not as big as it used to be. The EC has strict CO2 targets, and unless you’re selling lots of hybrids or electric cars, a product like WRX STI is hard to justify.”
Okay, that’s the UK market and it doesn’t really affect us down here in the part of the world where the sun does shine. But what if there was no WRX? Would it matter any more? Has the WRX had its time?
For a period in the 1990s, when the hot hatch was facing extinction (in Australia at least), the Rex was the default option for those looking for a relatively cheap go fast new car. It started with a trickle, then by the early noughties became a tsunami with every Tom, Dick and Habib getting in on the action.
By the time the WRX had reached saturation point the hot hatch was reemerging. You could argue the new MINI helped reignite the craze. But once the Mk5 Golf GTI arrived the hot hatch was back in a very big way. Renault, too, was having a say in the matter and all of a sudden it seemed the once all-conquering WRX was the forgotten hero. Where the WRX was the only option, there were, and still are, many options able to tempt buyers away from the WRX.
So, if the next-gen WRX never comes, would anyone care? And if not what would it take to make the WRX relevant once again? We think making a faithful reproduction of the concept model shown in New York would be a better place to start than the Evo-like prototype you see above.