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12 April 2013

Is Subaru's WRX Concept closer to production than we think?

Words by Ferman Lao | Photos courtesy of Subaru of America, Inc.
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By now, you should have seen photos of Subaru's new WRX Concept that was unveiled at the 2013 New York International Auto Show. If you still haven't, we've got a bunch of them for you to enjoy, so scroll down first and take a good look before coming back here. Now that we're all on the same page, I think we all will agree in no uncertain terms that it is indeed a stunner. Right?
But however the information presented, or rather, the lack thereof, it seems to indicate that Subaru is keeping a lid on things. Other than stating that the next-generation WRX will be heavily influenced by the design direction taken by the Concept, Fuji Heavy Industries Ltd. of Japan is tight lipped. They did however say that it “will focus on sharp handling, AWD grip, and turbo power.” This leaves us guessing that it will quite possibly have it's own distinct model instead of being part of the Impreza lineup. So, will the WRX Concept ever hit production?
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A quick look at the specifications that they did share seems to indicate that the WRX Concept may be closer to reality than we think.
The 2,761 mm wheelbase for example is only 10 mm shorter than the current generation Legacy GT. Who's to say that the production model won't sport the same wheelbase as Subaru's former rally platform? Add to that the fact that the Legacy GT is no slouch in the handling department.
The 1,389 mm height should be of no concern to fans as the BRZ is even lower at 1,285 mm and yet, the two-door coupe still sports adequate headroom for the driver to wear a helmet. And at 4,521 mm in length, the WRX Concept is only 59 mm shorter than the current Impreza.
The 1,890 mm width, on the other hand, which includes those massive fender arches, is by far the widest of any SubaruIn comparison, the WRX Concept is only 5 mm narrower than the Nissan GT-R.
As for the “new turbocharged engine and intercooler,” Subaru could have taken several options to reach their goal. One option is a tuned FA20 2.0L turbocharged engine that's rated at 250 horsepower and 350 Nm of torque as seen in the newly-launched Subaru Forester XT. Another could be an electric turbocharger that Fuji Heavy Industries is rumored to be working on. It supposedly converts exhaust heat into electricity which powers the turbo compressor's impellers. If true, it could do away with the complex exhaust piping needed in traditional turbocharger systems and more importantly, eliminate turbo lag. But whatever their solution may be, 300 horsepower sounds like a good magic number.
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Given that the size of the WRX Concept puts it in GT-R territory, maybe a turbocharged six-cylinder boxer engine is in order to give it GT-R nipping performance? After all, it already has those massive flourescent yellow brake calipers to match. Plus, the much longer bodywork aft of the front wheels seem to indicate the possibility of a different engine and transmission package altogether.
Subaru's WRX Concept is most definitely not a derivative of the current Impreza sedan. Instead, it's a weekend warrior's ultimate trackday car fantasy ladened with features such as a carbon fiber roof, quad tail pipes, huge rear diffuser, and 20-inch wheels that's manily intended for show. It is a concept after all.