Subaru Might Be Developing a Subcompact Hatch for 2020 WRC Competition
Miss the hatchback-bodied WRX? Word is it’s coming back.
Subaru is reportedly working on a new subcompact hatchback for entry in the 2020 World Rally Championship season.
Japanese publication Spyder7, which regularly publishes allegedly leaked materials, claims that Subaru's brand has suffered in Europe as a result of its withdrawal from the WRC in 2008 and that Toyota's success in the 2018 season is tempting Subaru back. To match the more compact Yaris WRC, Subaru would need a smaller vehicle than its current WRX, and as such, it is claimed that Subaru's car in development is a subcompact, or B-segment vehicle per European terminology.
Subaru allegedly will launch the vehicle in 2019. Japanese organizers are reportedly bidding to get the country onto the race calendar during the same year as the 2020 Summer Olympics, to be held in Tokyo.
This timeline aligns with the WRX's reported refresh schedule, as the aging model is said to be due for an overhaul in 2020. With this redesign, the model will reportedly ride on Subaru's Global Platform, according to Automotive News.
Once the darling model of Subaru, the Impreza and its once-associated WRX variant are now too bulky to be competitive in the WRC. The WRX was refreshed in 2014, but many argue that Subaru has allowed its powertrain to become dated due to a lack of competition in the compact sports sedan segment. Subaru has seemingly acknowledged waning interest in the model with a barrage of special editions sold in both the United States and its home market of Japan, such as the TC 380.
How much the rumored upcoming WRC entry candidate will have in common with another of Subaru's rumored enthusiast car programs—a mid-engined hybrid sports car—is unknown. Hypothetically, the hatchback body style could accommodate both front- and mid-engined powertrain configurations, though we doubt the latter.
The Drive contacted Subaru for comment, though the automaker declined, as its policy is not to discuss potential future models.