Subaru has become one of the most recognizable Japanese car manufacturers. Compared to giants like Toyota and Honda, Subaru is quite a small-scale operation, but thanks to years of racing success and revolutionizing the World Rally Championships, the brand has grown into a household name. Since 2017, the company has sold over 1,000,000 units per year, reaching a high of 1,075,152 in 2018. Global sales figures have been steadily rising over the past few years, and by all accounts, the company should be revealing similar growth for this year too.
The US market is fertile ground for the Japanese brand, with the American market being responsible for the lion’s share of the company’s sales. In 2018, for example, Subaru successfully sold an impressive 680,135 vehicles in the United States; an improvement of 5% from 2017’s equally impressive 647,956 units sold. The 2019 figures aren’t out yet, but by looking at the first two quarters of 2019, Subaru’s US sales are up by 4% on 2018. If the trend continues, Subaru will be able to claim a 12th consecutive year of solid growth in the US market, hopefully delivering more than 700,000 on US soil. Since the US market is worth around 60% of the company’s sales, this could be huge news.
The most popular Subaru models in the United States include the Outback, Forester, and the Crosstrek. The Outback is the most popular, with sales of 178,854 in 2018; the Forester is another firm favorite, with 171,613 units sold in the same time frame; lastly, there’s the Crosstrek, which was responsible for 144,384 sales. New models like the Ascent have also contributed to Subaru’s booming sales, but older models that fill the rest of Subaru’s range, such as the Impreza, haven’t been making the sales impressions that they used to.
2020 is expected to bring a few key models to the fight that should help boost Subaru’s sales even further. However, we’re looking further ahead. 2020 will see some updates to the core Outback, Forester, and Crosstrek trio, with an updated Ascent and Legacy too, but 2021 looks to be a more significant year for the Japanese brand. Many models that are in need of a long overdue update should be making an appearance. Here’s what we’re expecting, speculating over, and simply wishing for too:
What To Expect From The 2021 Subaru Line-Up
2021 Subaru Impreza WRX STI S209
A number of reports have confirmed that a new Subaru WRX is on the way. At the moment, there’s divided opinion as to whether the new WRX is going to be a 2020 model or a 2021 model. In our humble opinion, production will begin in 2020, with the final products going on sale badged as 2021 Subaru models. We’d be more than happy to be wrong though. As long as a new Subaru WRX is on the way, as long as it comes soon, we don’t mind.
The current Impreza-based Subaru is in need of some serious TLC and luckily, a major upgrade is on the horizon. Over the last 15 years, the Impreza WRX STI’s engine has only had a boost of 10 horsepower, which is pretty lackluster. Major upgrades are coming, and the whole package needs to be shifted over to Subaru’s Global Platform architecture too.
There are two theories about the engine circulating. The first suggests that the new WRX will use the same 2.5L turbocharged flat-four engine as before, but with major upgrades and a larger HKS turbocharger, forged pistons and connecting rods, a new intake system, and more. As long as the power output has a significant increase, that theory has some legs.
The second theory suggests that the 2021 WRX STI will be scrapping the older EJ25 2.5L turbocharged flat-four in exchange for Subaru’s new FA20 Direct Injection Turbo boxer, producing 315 horsepower and 325 lb-ft of torque. This also sounds pretty reasonable.
Whatever happens, Subaru’s design chief, Mamoru Ishii, has explained that all-wheel drive is an important part of modern cars: “Four-wheel drive is critical to the power and performance levels our customers expect but on the engine we have more freedom,” he said in an interview. Some car enthusiasts are speculating that his words disguise Subaru’s intention to make a gasoline-electric plug-in hybrid option for the new Subaru WRX STI. We expect that it is a few more years down the line though, or at least a model option for those who want to pay the extra for the pleasure.
Again, there’s no official word on when the WRX STI will be making an appearance. While 2020 has been thrown about by some sources, it just seems like too short of a time frame for Subaru to truly deliver the kind of upgrade that they’ve been promising. Still, the car might be launched in 2020, but when it hits the salesroom floors, we’re convinced that it will be as a 2021 model. Or perhaps the WRX will arrive in 2020, and the WRX STI in 2021. Who knows?
2021 Subaru BRZ
One of the most exciting rumors in recent years has been talk of a new and updated Subaru BRZ. Unfortunately, most of the time these rumors have just been rumors. This year, however, it looks like the dynamite Subaru BRZ and Toyota 86 Duo are coming back. Well, that’s the word on the street anyway. Or rather, Toyota has confirmed that the Toyota 86 will be returning, and since they made that announcement at a press conference highlighting and reinforcing the brand’s ongoing partnership with Subaru, it would odd if the Subaru BRZ wasn’t also getting a revamp too.
And to compound the situation further, eagle eyed car paparazzi have spotted a prototype Subaru BRZ/Toyota 86 putting in a few laps around Germany’s famous Nürburgring. It has been a long time since the car was first released in 2013, and judging by how far along the prototype is, it looks like a 2021 Subaru BRZ is very much on the cards.
From the images that we’ve seen, we can clearly see that there’s a new front fascia, and that the front end’s air intakes have been given a significant upgrade. At the rear there’s a new trunk design, with updated tail lights. Unfortunately, there’s not a lot else that we can really see. As for the engine and the overall performance statistics, we will have to wait and see—however, that hasn’t stopped Subaru BRZ and Toyota 86 enthusiasts from guessing what could be under the hood.
Speculators are predicting that the 2021 Subaru BRZ will be sporting a 2.4 liter turbocharged flat-four engine—the very same that’s found in the Outback, Ascent, and Legacy. If that’s the case, you’re looking at a 260 horsepower power output, and 277 lb-ft of torque, which trumps the current Toyota 86/Subaru BRZ specs of 205 horses and 156 lb-ft of torque from the existing 2.0 liter four-cylinder lump.
At the moment, that’s all there is to say about these upcoming beauties. Production is expected to begin towards the end of 2020 with the new Subaru BRZ plated up as a 2021 model. And the sooner the better, because these fan favorites have only seen one update (in 2017) since they were introduced all the way back in 2013. Bring ‘em on!
2021 Subaru Levorg
Unveiled as a prototype at the 2019 Tokyo Motor Show, the Subaru Levorg has already made a big impression on the auto industry. Debates have been raging about whether the thing will even go into production, and the word on the street is that even if it does go into production, it won’t be available to American customers. That’s what people are saying, but we’ve learned to expect the unexpected, so we’re going to show you what the Levorg is all about, just in case it does decide to make an appearance in the United States.
In short, the Levorg prototype is a sleek station wagon that’s built on top of the Subaru Global Platfrom; a next-generation, Subaru-developed, design direction that uses modern technology to deliver “a fun driving experience for all passengers regardless of the roads and weather conditions.” This bold direction builds on Subaru’s past experiences, to help develop a platform that benefits both driver and passenger, pleasing everyone.
With the chassis being the Subaru Global Platform framework, using a frame with higher rigidity, lighter weight, increased strength, improved rolling resistance, and responsive steering, the next mystery to unravel is the engine. The Levorg is expected to come powered by Subaru’s new 1.8 liter boxer engine, with a turbocharger and direct-injection technology. Unfortunately, that’s all the information available about the powerplant at this time. Except for a quote explaining that the Levorg’s engine will have a good balance of both “acceleration and environmental credentials.”
In terms of looks, the Subaru Levorg features bold lines and sporty curves. Compared with other station wagons, the Levorg certainly has a more aggressive and sports-focused looked, ditching the dowdy practicality that other station wagons have ingrained in their DNA. With a fancy dual-exit exhaust, sleek headlights, and squared wheel arches, the Subaru Levorg looks far more menacing than its closest rivals.
It might look fiercer than the completion, but it still ticks all the right boxes for a safe and dependable family car. For example, the new Levorg features Subaru EyeSight technology: a comprehensive suite of safety features that keep you and your family safe.
Subaru’s EyeSight system carefully monitors everything going on around the car, keeping tabs on your safety and scouting for any hazards. A sophisticated pre-collision braking system helps pre-empt potential dangers on the roads, and the latest update now extends to crossing and turning at junctions too. The system works in partnership with a high-definition map and GPS that keeps an eye on the cars location and trajectory, and reduces speed accordingly to prevent accidents and promote hands-free driving where possible.
Like many other modern vehicles, the new Levorg will feature emergency service alerts in the event of an accident. The Advanced Automatic Collision Notification system sends an alert to first responders and other rescue services if an accident happens. Similar to BMW’s eCall, a conscious driver can be directed to an operator at the push of a button if special advice is required.
It’s not expected to be available in the USA, but we can still dream. Production is expected to begin in late 2020, with the Subaru Levorg badged as a 2021 model.
How About A 2021 Subaru Hot Hatch?
Alright, this one is based on nothing but rumor, but it sounds quite appealing so we’re going to give it some of the word count. These rumors stem from Japanese sites that claim to have some insider information about Subaru’s racing intentions. According to these sites, Subaru is making plans to make a triumphant return to WRC. Subaru and WRC are pretty much synonymous with each other. In fact, WRC made Subaru a household name, and turned the Impreza into the stuff of legend. A return to racing would mean a new car, and as the Impreza and WRX aren’t really the right vehicles for the job these days, the word on the street is that Subaru are going sub-compact.
Think of a hatchback that would rival the likes of the Toyota Yaris or Ford Fiesta, but given the racing legacy and fierce attitude of a Subaru. What you have there is a potent mix. Now, Subaru doesn’t offer anything that’s even vaguely sub-compact in their current line-up, which means we’d be looking at a totally new model. While Subaru has flirted with sub-compacts in the past, from the Justy, to the Rex, and the Vivio, a modern hatchback would be a radical move for the Japanese nameplate.
And that’s where the source-based speculation ends. The rest of our coverage here is 100% pure, unadulterated fiction. For now. To help keep the idea of a Subaru hot hatch alive, the good folks at topspeed.com mocked up a rather delicious rendering of what a WRC inspired Subaru sub-compact could, and most-importantly should, look like.
According to their rendering, the sub-compact would feature all of the hatchback design elements, with big side windows, gently protruding skirts, and a sloping belt line. The rendering is of a potential performance model though, so it has some all-important performance-focused additions, such as large rear spoiler, twin exhaust pipes, and a sporty rear diffuser. It would look great, but unfortunately, this is only an unofficial rendering. If only it were real!
That’s a potential performance model though. There would be a regular based model that would be able to go toe-to-toe with the likes of the Toyota Yaris, Volkswagen Polo, Hyundai i20, and Ford Fiesta—with DNA that’s more like the Impreza than the WRX, and with a stripped down nature that lacks all of the top shelf additions that would keep prices down and more accessible.
But what would power the new hatch?
The most popular theories support offerings like Subaru’s 1.6 and 2.0 liter box engine options. The problem is that the 1.6 liter engine won’t be able to compete with similar performance hatchbacks like the VW Polo GTI, Toyota Yaris GRMN, or Ford Focus ST, which all have power outputs in the 200 horsepower region, while the 1.6 boxer is only good for about 112. Similarly, the 2.0 liter in the current Impreza is only good for about 152 horses too, which is also no good. Naturally, it could be beefed up, but a whole new engine might be a better option.
A little turbo four-cylinder seems to be a wise option, offering around 200 horses in a package that could fit under the hood of a little hot hatch, without too much that could go wrong. Developing a new engine from the ground up isn’t cheap, and Subaru might not have the resources for that at the moment.
They could always flex their strategic partnership with Toyota and ask them for the Yaris GRMN engine though—and that’s not an unreasonable ask. All Subaru need is something that make north of 200 horsepower (or in the same zip code), with a decent 0 to 60 mph time.
Pipe-dreams aside, just because that rendering isn’t official doesn’t mean that something isn’t coming in the near future, potentially as a 2021 Subaru model.