In the world of street-legal rally cars, there’s always been one choice to make: Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution or Subaru Impreza WRX STi.
Subaru has unveiled its new STi (Subaru Technica International) at the Detroit Auto Show today, and it’s a doozy. Or, well, it should be. The formula is all correct on paper -- WRC Blue paint, a turbocharged 2.5L boxer engine, a six-speed manual transmission and classic gold wheels. How could this go wrong?
Well, it only takes one glance to realize that the STi, though always similar in philosophy but different in aesthetics from the Lancer Evolution, has morphed into a shape eerily similar to the Lancer Evolution X. Which is a 7-year-old design.
About the only angle where this new design screams Subaru to me is the back. As expected, there’s a wing big enough to eat dinner off of (which has been tradition on STi sedans for a while), but the trunk and bumper lip are reminiscent of the old Legacy GT sedan. That’s not a bad thing, mind you -- the Legacy GT was like a WRX for a more mature crowd.
The STi’s doppelganger face probably won’t matter though -- Osamu Masuko, CEO of Mitsubishi Motors, said that "The Evo as you know it is no more. The new model will take a completely different direction.” Considering Mitsubishi’s main focus has been electric and hybrid power in the years following the Evo X’s debut, the next Evo won’t be the gas-guzzling machine we’ve come to expect.
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So the STi will no longer have its traditional competitor. We don’t know exactly what direction the new Evo will go -- if it’s still even going to be called one -- so Subaru has the market to themselves on this one.
Well, unless Ford decides to make a scaled-down version of their WRC Fiesta. We can hope.