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Why the 2021 Subaru WRX could go PHEV

Subaru argues the turbocharged flat-four isn\'t a defining part of the WRX\'s character.

There's a brand-new Subaru Impreza on the market but the last-generation WRX and WRX STI are still with us. The Japanese company is beginning to work on a successor for each, and a recent report suggests they'll both incorporate major changes.

"Four-wheel drive is critical to the power and performance levels our customers expect but on the engine we have more freedom," Mamoru Ishii, the brand's design chief, told Autocar.

Tentatively due out in 2020, the next-generation WRX will be able to incorporate a gasoline-electric plug-in hybrid powertrain because it will ride on Subaru's modular global platform. That's not to say it will; Ishii stopped short of confirming the setup is planned. It might be offered as an extra-cost option or it might not appear until later in the car's life cycle.

Ishii reassured enthusiasts by stressing that, fortunately, Subaru has no plans to build a WRX that drives itself.

"For instance, we know that autonomous and connective technology are coming, and for many customers that is great, but we don't think that is what all of our customers want. For some, driving pleasure is still very important and that is what we are exploring," he explained.

From a design standpoint, the WRX will draw inspiration from the VIZIV Performance concept (pictured) unveiled last October at the Tokyo Auto Show. "We want it to look fast even when it is parked," the designer noted.

We expect the next-generation WRX will arrive in 2020, meaning deliveries likely won't start until the 2021 model year. The WRX STI will follow shortly after.

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