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Subaru WRX manual to live on in next generation

There’s a lot of rumour about what the next-generation WRX will bring, but one thing that seems certain now is that it will continue to offer stick-shift thrills.

WHILE NO one beyond the walls of Subaru can confirm what new drivetrain the next-generation Subaru WRX will really house, we can report that the sentiment at Subaru Japan is to ensure the six-speed manual transmission lives on.

While alleged details of the new WRX’s drivetrain have been emerging this week that the model will gain a near-300kW boxer turbo engine, we can also now reveal it will most likely continue to offer the option for a manual transmission.

Speaking with Practical Motoring yesterday at the launch of the new Subaru Forester and XV Hybrid and MY20 Impreza, Subaru Australia managing director Colin Christie said that while he cannot confirm engine details, he fully expects – and is very keen for – a manual transmission to be on offer.

The current WRX houses a 2.0-litre petrol turbo engine or 2.5-litre turbo petrol engine producing 221kW and 407Nm in STI trim through a six-speed manual and symmetrical all-wheel-drive system. The upcoming model is reported to increase output to 298kW and 489Nm from a new 2.4-litre turbo motor. While those details remain rumour, Christie told us that he wants a manual transmission and that it is the view of Subaru to keep it into the future.

“We can’t give a lot of detail on what’s happening,” he said. “As with anything you take it [the 300kW engine rumour] with a grain of salt.”

“Subaru talked about it a bit today with STI, and there’s no doubt it has a clear focus… My understanding is there is no desire to move away from performance cars whatsoever,” he said.

“Yes [the manual should live on in WRX], and I think even from Subaru Corporation’s point of view, and we were just talking earlier about it, our sales split is 60:40, so 60 percent CVT and 40 percent manual in WRX.

“We would be very keen and are very keen to keep a manual transmission in our performance range and to be honest, I think Subaru Corporation is in the same space.”

A manual 300kW Subaru WRX? That would be the perfect antidote to the auto-only powerhouse equivalent, the 310kW Mercedes-AMG CLA45 S. But it’s worth keeping in mind that the next-gen WRX is also rumoured to offer a lower output 1.8- or 2.0-litre turbo petrol – such as that detailed for the upcoming Levorg – which might be what the manual is bolted to.

In any event, it seems enthusiasts will be rewarded with another generation of the WRX with a manual transmission.

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Alex Rae

Alex Rae