Subaru are in trouble, there is no doubt about it, with the enormous negative feedback for the new Impreza still bearing down on Subaru, all hopes now rest with the company's halo car, the Subaru Impreza WRX STi.
New Subaru Impreza WRX STi First Look
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Although there are no official photos of the rally champion yet, UK's CarMagazine artists have sketched the image above based on insider info. We admit, it still doesn't look that good. Here is the first problem, in Europe there will not be a Sedan version of the STi and the rest of the world's chances aren't looking that crash hot either. However unlike Europe, we will still receive the WRX variant in Sedan guise (the WRX is dropped from European showrooms).

In Australian the new Impreza range will launch with the hatchback only, rumours from inside Subaru Australia say this is due to the company's ambitions to meet US sales - in other words, Australia is neglected for the time being.

The Sedan version (which outsells the wagon in the WRX variant by more than 3:1) will arrive in Australia in 18 months time, as for the STi? It seems as though there will be no STi sedan at all!

But wait, it gets worse, since Subaru have decided to compete with the Volkswagen Golf (GTi/R32), the new STi will be a little more grown up, a little more mundane in the looks department. The idea is to lose the "boy racer" image that Subaru are so scared of. However it will still keep some of its cool, such as the massive bonnet scoop and very noticeable wheelarches.

There has never been a time when STi have sold an Impreza in Australia without gold wheels or a rear wing, but the new one will set a precedence. The gold wheels will be an option, so will the traditional WRC blue paint.

Fortunately though, despite the styling, the new STi will be faster than ever, the engine will remain relatively unchanged, with 220kWs, the STi will do the 0-100km/hr dash in 4.6 seconds.

Subaru have been able to sell the STi for the last decade without much competition, however now that Mitsubishi have taken it upon themselves to bring the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution range to Australia under a standard vehicle import scheme, Subaru are a little worried.

Not only will the new WRX have to compete with the new Lancer GSR (now referred to as the Galant Fortis), but the new Evo X will not only look better but will also come with a DSG gearbox! The STi on the other hand, will continue with a solid six-speed, while the new WRX will maintain its aging five-speed manual. The Evo X is expected to cost around 75,000k on road. The new STi will undoubtedly retail for a similar price.

Subaru says the new STi is not only lighter, stiffer and has a lower centre of gravity than the outgoing car but the rear suspension setup (double-wishbone) will improve handling and boot space.

The new STi will be on display at the Frankfurt motor show in September and we can finally put a rest to all the rumours. Our biggest concern with the new STi? The lack of DSG style gearbox, coupled with the cars rather mundane look, will make life hard for die hard Subaru fans thinking about switching over to the dark side.