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The truth about the Subaru WRX STI: Is this the reason the new 300kW performance icon won't be here until 2022?

The Subaru WRX STI won't launch until 2022.

It's been a long time between drinks for Subaru's performance hero, and the time is only getting longer, with a new WRX STI not expected to launch until around the middle of 2022.

That'll be a full 12 months after the launch of its WRX little brother - and even longer after the launch of its Levorg sibling. So what's with the hold-up?

Early reports had the STI launching in October next year, but that date has reportedly been pushed back by at least eight months. And fresh news out of Japan claims to know why.

According to local media, launching a WRX STI early would see the brand fall foul of CAFE regulations. The Cooperative Average Fuel Efficiency standards can vary internationally, including exactly what the acronym stands for, but generally look at a car company's fuel use and emissions from its entire fleet of vehicles.

New reports out of Japan suggest that Subaru is waiting until it is further down the hybrid/BEV path before unleashing the WRX STI, which would essentially blow out the brand's fleet standards.

And we do mean blow out: international reports point to the new performance powerhouse scoring a 2.4-litre turbo engine (a version of the engine used in the brand's Ascent SUV) that will deliver a 298kW and 489Nm wallop.

In the meantime, though, Subaru will be working on its first all-electric model, a mid-size SUV developed with Toyota and reportedly named Evoltis, which is expected next year, as well as an expansion of its hybrid tech, helping lower fleet emissions.

Is this the real reason for the delay? The Japanese press certainly thinks so. Either way, if the reports are to be believed, the WRX STI will be worth the wait.