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Radical new Subaru WRX

A Subaru insider says the new WRX will be a totally different beast to the Impreza. Illustration: Holiday Auto magazine.

The Japanese brand is going luxury-first with its all-new Impreza sedan, has the XV concept to turn into a baby SUV, and is planning a seriously quick WRX and STi as its frontline motorsport hero cars. But one Subaru insiders says it's not certain that the WRX name will actually survive the massive makeover.

Work on the all-new WRX has been made easier by Subaru's involvement in the joint-venture Toyota sports car that is currently known as the FT-86 but is expected to hit Australian showrooms as the Toyota 86. The new direction for the WRX has emerged following the preview of the all-new Impreza last month at the New York motor show, and talk of an Impreza-based WRX that would arrive a year later with a new and more- powerful engine.

But a Subaru insider now says the new WRX will be a totally different beast to the Impreza, and will employ totally different mechanical components. This image, revealing how one artist sees the new WRX, shows the new two-door model with a shorter wheelbase and heavy-duty bodywork. "Apart from a few nuts and bolts, every part on the WRX will be unique. Even the engine and body," says the Subaru source.

From now on, the Impreza will compete as the company's core model with a fuel-efficient, naturally-aspirated 2.0-litre boxer four engine. The car's wheelbase has been slightly lengthened while the A- pillar has been brought forward 200mm to maximize interior space and comfort levels. But the WRX will not use these parts and the company has clearly learned from the current car which has teddy bears for springs and marshmallows for dampers.

"Up until now, the Impreza and WRX used many common parts, which translated into entry-level Imprezas that were over-engineered," says the Subaru source. "The basic chassis and suspension had to employ certain parts necessary for the WRX. That drove cost up and, well, at the end of the day many entry-level customers did not want or understand the significance of such high-tech parts, stresses our insider."

So the next WRX, on the other hand, will employ the very best from Subaru's parts bin, starting with the company's rally-proven all-wheel drive system and its bulletproof turbocharged boxer engine. "The first thing you must understand about our all-new WRX is that we have developed it from the ground up to win in motor sports events. That's why we have focused so heavily on weight issues, not to mention a shorter wheelbase that permits faster, more precise turn-in. Marry that to our proven AWD system, and we think we have a winner," explains our source.

The new WRX could even signal a return to the top level of the World Rally Championship, where Subaru would run up against Ford, Volkswagen and the dominant Citroen team. "Obviously the rally model will be based on the top-of-the-line STI car but, unlike previous Impreza WRXs, this new WRX will be more hardcore and less forgiving on bumpy road surfaces," adds our source.

He admits the FT-86 work with Toyota has helped the WRX. "If the truth be known, we were able to focus so deeply on the motorsports element with the new WRX because we developed a sister car with the Toyota FT-86. Bosses gave us permission to go all-out because that car exists," reveals our insider.

Work on the upcoming WRX includes consideration of a turbocharged 1.6- litre boxer engine pumping out around 150 kiloWatts, while a twin- charger system involving a supercharger is being tested as well. The car's body is rumoured to be a little bigger that a Toyota Yaris, while its tread width is said to expand significantly.

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