May 11, 2012
Chris Salamone

Subaru’s Rumored WRX Electric Turbo

Ever since the most recent generation Impreza rolled onto lots, buyers have wondered what the incoming WRX might look like. While we still have no idea what shape the next WRX will take, partly because Subaru refused to showcase a new design during last year’s Tokyo Auto Show, a recent article from Brisbane Times speculates that the vehicle’s turbocharger will have some pretty nifty technology.

For the time being, WRX enthusiasts will have to remain ‘enthused’ by imagining the improved fuel efficiency and reduced turbo lag associated with an electrically-powered turbocharger.

And although no official comment has affirmed the rumor, Brisbane Times cites an “unnamed source” and motortrend.com’s eagle eyes’ find of a Fuji Heavy Industries patent, taken out in 2007, on… you guessed it… an electric turbo.

Whether or not the idea actually ends up on a Subaru vehicle, this is some pretty serious future tech. Apparently, the unmentionable source believes that Fuji Heavy Industries, Subaru’s parent company, is working on converting exhaust gases into electricity-generating heat and turbo power.

When directly questioned, a spokesman from Subaru Australia, David Rowley, neither affirmed nor denied the electric turbo rumor: “Our understanding is that the [WRX] will be completely distinctive from the current Impreza, it will look considerably different. I think it’s fair to say they’ll be looking at a whole raft of technical refinements on WRX because by the time we see it, it will be some years old in terms of the maturity of Impreza, so inevitably there will be some very significant technical changes and innovations.”

Fittingly, Subaru already began to show signs of the Impreza/WRX division by removing the ‘Impreza’ moniker from the previously available WRX. Over the coming months and years, Subaru will continue to shepherd the rift, in an effort to define the WRX brand as a more upscale, sporty product.

Perhaps another surefire technological improvement will be the company’s use of continuously variable transmissions in the upcoming WRX. Even though most diehard drivers still prefer the thrills of a short throw manual shifter, no one can deny the efficiency and speed gains found in a properly tuned CVT.

When combined with an exhaust-derived turbo, the fuel mileage of a CVT-equipped WRX might be surprisingly high. Of course we’d rather sacrifice a few miles per gallon for a properly naughty manual transmission, but a lagless turbo might be enough to sway the vote.

Source : Brisbane Times - Drive