2021 Subaru WRX STI Review: Expected Prices, Release Date, MPG, and Performance

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John Bedrow 

Automotive Journalist

August 26, 2020  at 9:02 AM

The spirited soul in an affordable 4-door package, the Subaru WRX STI is all set to get its due in 2021. The 2021 Subaru WRX STI gets a complete design overall with a new architecture, edgier exteriors and upscale interiors and an updated suite of tech and infotainment features. Importantly, it also gets a new and more powerful engine.

Compact, agile, powerful and great athleticism is perhaps the best description of the Subaru WRX STI. No surprise that the WRX STI has for long been the go-to sports car for budget-oriented buyers. With a four-door set-up though. Despite its rare stature and incredible performance though, the WRX is yet to get its fair due from Subaru. The current 2020 WRX STI is based on its third-generation which was unveiled back in 2015. While it did receive some nifty upgrades in its recent model years, most of them were limited to the cosmetic front. Importantly while most other Subaru products have already switched to Subaru’s Global Platform, the 2020 WRX STI still uses the older architecture.

However, fortunes seem to take a turn for the WRX STI and the 2021 Subaru WRX STI will be a completely redesigned model sparking off its next generation. Apart from the design update, the 2021 WRX STI is also said to get a new and powerful engine, new interior layout, updated infotainment and several other mechanical tweaks. While concrete official reports from Subaru are yet to arrive, we gather various leaks, reports and speculations here to take a quick look at the upcoming 2021 Subaru WRX STI.

What’s New with the 2021 Subaru WRX STI?

  • Completely redesigned inside and out
  • New and powerful engine
  • Updated infotainment
  • Enhanced mechanics

What’s the Expected Price and Release Date of the 2021 Subaru WRX STI?

No official statement from Subaru yet, but amidst the current global scenario, the 2021 Subaru WRX STI is likely to hit the stores in early 2021. However, with a thorough redesign and plentiful tweaks, prices are expected to take a toll. Expect the all-new 2021 Subaru WRX STI to start around $39,000.

What to expect in the engine department of the 2021 Subaru WRX STI?

Although the 2020 Subaru WRX STI Sedan dwarfed the competition with a 2.5L BOXER 4 engine clocking a 310 HP power output with 290 lb-ft of torque, the 2021 version is anticipated to be far more beastly than the last year version. The 2021 Subaru WRX STI is not expected to feature an all-new powertrain, instead, the reports suggest a heavily reworked and beefed up FA24 2.4L Turbocharged BOXER motor, sourced from Subaru Ascent SUVs.

The same mill has previously been ported to Subaru Legacy and Outback SUVs but the 2021 WRX STI iteration is expected to pack a monstrous performance upgrade with power clocks of up to 400 HP. As per the reports surrounding 2021 Subaru WRX STI specifications, the WRX STI will continue with its 6-speed manual transmission and there will be no option for CVT available. Well, the WRX STI has always been a performance banger with its strong punch and quick start-offs and we expect the 2021 model to be no different.

Models

2021 Subaru WRX STI (Expected)

Volkswagen Jetta GLI Autobahn

Dodge Charger SXT

MSRP (Base)

$ 39,000

$29,945

$29,995

Engine

2.4L turbocharged flat-four

2.0L turbocharged inline four-cylinder

3.6L V6

Transmission

6-Speed Manual

6-Speed Manual

8-Speed Shiftable Automatic

Drivetrain

AWD

FWD

RWD

Power (hp @ rpm)

400+

228 @ 5000

292 @ 6350

Torque (lb-ft @ rpm)

TBD

258 @ 1700

260 @ 4800

0-60 (seconds)

4.6

5.8

4.3

Quarter-Mile (seconds)

13.2

14.7

12.4

The 2021 Subaru WRX STI Sedan is expected to face its competition with impressive 0-60 miles timings. However, the beefy 100 HP boost to the powertrain will churn even nastier acceleration figures than before. The 2021 Subaru WRX STI Sedan also edges over the competition with standard AWD drivetrain in all its trims for more thrill down the streets.

How will the 2021 Subaru WRX STI Handle?

The 2021 Subaru WRX STI Sedan looks promising in carrying on its legacy as a top performer in the handling and control categories, as it would be unfair to expect any less from it. In terms of the dynamic vehicle control systems and handling that Subaru implemented in the previous versions, the 2021 WRX STI Sedan should feel incredibly sharp in combating corners and highways alike. While it is pretty obvious that the 2021 Subaru WRX STI Sedan will continue to deliver an engaging drive experience, through its superb AWD traction and ultra-responsive steering controls.

The newer model is expected to surpass the benchmark set by the 2020 version. The electrically assisted steering with subtle feedback, that we witnessed in the 2020 Subaru WRX STI, provided unmatched cornering as well as a high level of control on wet roads. Also, its broad foot pedals with generous spacing between them, had impressive tactile feel and feedback, providing excellent handling overall. The 2021 Subaru WRX STI Sedan will hopefully carry on its legacy as a top performer in the handling and control department.

What are the expected MPG figures for the 2021 Subaru WRX STI?

Because of the expected massive upgrades in its power and performance, we don’t need Nostradamus to predict that the 2021 WRX STI Sedan will score poor MPG numbers than its existing 2020 model. The fuel economy assumption is a no brainer, as the 100 HP increment in the powertrain of the 2021 WRX STI will significantly lower the mileage figures. Even as of now, the 2020 WRX STI offers the lowest economy of 19 combined mpg in its class.

Models

2021 Subaru WRX STI (Expected)

Volkswagen Jetta GLI Autobahn

Dodge Charger SXT

MPG (City)

17

25

19

MPG (Highway)

22

32

30

MPG (Combined)

19

27

25

Fuel Tank Capacity (gallons)

15.9

13.2

18.5

Range (City/Highway) (miles)

254/350

330/422

351/555

No surprise, with a higher performance-orientation, the 2020 WRX STI offers the lowest fuel economy in its segment. Among its rivals though, the Volkswagen Jetta GLI happens to be the most frugal with a combined 27 mpg figure. Thanks to its smaller engine and lightweight body. The Dodge Charger is not far behind the Jetta either with a 25 combined mpg.

What to expect from the 2021 Subaru WRX STI’s Interior?

Though the 2020 WRX STI offers a decently spacious cabin, it certainly lacks the premium fit and finish of rivals like the Volkswagen Jetta. Headroom and legroom but being a performance car, the 2020 Subaru WRX STI Sedan remains a plastic and cloth paradise nonetheless. Though the optional black Recaro leather seats with striking red highlights added more to its aura, the monotonous and pale dashboard coupled with a tiny infotainment console was a very big let-down. 

Hopefully, the dashboard in the 2021 version would sport a better style and finish along with a generously sized infotainment screen. Also, the 2021 WRX STI is expected to expand on the puny cargo space of 12 cubic feet, which is on the lower spectrum of what the competition offers. Also, the 2021 version is expected to upgrade on the 2020 version stiff seats that made long drives tiresome along with eliminating any wind noises that penetrated the cabin.

Models

2021 Subaru WRX STI (Expected)

Volkswagen Jetta GLI Autobahn

Dodge Charger SXT

Passenger Capacity

5

5

5

Front (Head/Shoulder/Leg) (in.)

39.8/55.6/43.3

38.5/55.9/41.1

38.6/59.5/41.8

Rear (Head/Shoulder/Leg) (in.)

37.1/54.2/35.4

37.2/54.0/37.4

36.6/57.9/40.1

Cargo Capacity (cu.ft.)

12

14.1

16.5

Apart from aluminum finished foot pedals and a leather steering cover, even the 2020 WRX STI Sedan Limited had nothing impressive to write home about. Hopefully, Subaru will take care of this in the 2021 edition with a snazzier interior combined with more comfortable seats and better cabin serenity overall.

2021 Subaru WRX STI: Infotainment System and Connectivity

The 2021 WRX STI Sedan is expected to ramp up the infotainment system and include more connectivity options to satisfy modern consumers. Upgrading on the last-gen 5.9-inch information screen coupled with the mid-tier version of the Starlink touch screen infotainment system. The newer infotainment will hopefully offer a wide variety of modern features including Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity, which were missing in the previous year version of the sedan.

Will there be any changes to the exterior design of the 2021 Subaru WRX STI?

The 2021 WRX STI is stipulated to be inspired by the Subaru VIZIV concept design, featuring an overall futuristic look with an aggressive undertone. As per the released pictures of the VIZIV concept, the 2021 WRX STI Sedan might incorporate a broader spoiler with angular quadruple rear exhausts, along with streaky headlights and tail-lights. 

Even if the 2021 version adopts a fraction of the VIZIV design features, it would look miles apart from the previous generation. Hopefully, even with the new design implementations, the 2021 Subaru WRX STI Sedan will keep alive its distinct rally car appeal that Subaru has delivered since the launch of the first 1996 WRX STI Sedan model.

Models

2021 Subaru WRX STI (Expected)

Volkswagen Jetta GLI Autobahn

Dodge Charger SXT

Curb Weight (lbs.)

3,294

3,217

3,964

Length (in.)

180.9

185.2

198.4

Width (in.)

70.7

70.8

75.0

Height (in.)

58.1

56.8

57.8

Ground Clearance (in.)

4.9

5.0

5.2

Wheelbase (in.)

104.3

105.6

120

The performance class cars from Subaru, Volkswagen, Dodge, and Mercedes, all share almost similar external dimensions except that the 2021 Subaru WRX STI Sedan is looking to shed some curb weight by incorporating more carbon fiber body parts and panels.

Will the 2021 Subaru WRX STI Sedan be worth your time and money?

The 2021 WRX STI Sedan looks to offer premium performance without the cost of intuitive features and comfort. If you are willing to look over the low cargo space and bottom of the barrel mileage in anticipation of unrivaled power and performance, then the 2021 Subaru WRX STI Sedan might just be the car for you. But with its competitors looking to roll out the 2021 version of their cars with beefier powertrain setups, Subaru needs to up their game.

Overall, if Subaru addresses the ride comfort issues that riddled the 2020 WRX STI Sedan and implements a host of driver-assist and safety technology in the newer 2021 WRX STI Sedan, it will be definitely worth its price.

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