New car could be the replacement for the long departed WRX hatch

Is Subaru preparing a new model, and a return to the World Rally Championship? A report from Japan claims it's a yes on both counts.

According to Japanese website Spyder7, Subaru is developing a Yaris-size vehicle, which would bridge the gap between its Japanese-only kei cars and the Impreza.

A hotted-up version will reportedly be powered by a 1.8-litre turbocharged four-cylinder boxer developed predominately for the next-generation Levorg wagon.

Such a vehicle would serve as a replacement for the long-gone WRX hatch as a base for the company's return to the World Rally Championship (WRC).

The Impreza-based WRX and WRX STI models, on which the company built much of its rally heritage, are now too large to go head-to-head with the Yaris and Fiesta doing the rounds in current rally competition.

Spyder7 claims Subaru is developing this new model because its fortunes in Europe have flatlined since it withdrew from the rallying scene.

The Japanese publication says the hatch could be launched as early as 2019. If this report turns out to be true, it would break the company's recent tradition of previewing upcoming new models via glammed-up concept cars.

We're a little sceptical about the timing outlined here, given no prototypes of this car have been spied so far.