Subaru will launch a four-door Impreza WRX STI in the UK later this year.
First seen at the New York motor show in the spring, the saloon is designed to reverse poor demand for the cult performance classic, which switched to a five-door hatchback body style in 2007.
The saloon’s imminent arrival casts doubt over the future of the hatchback, a car that hasn’t been imported as new into the UK since the 2008 model year.
At the car’s launch, Subaru America chief operating officer Tom Doll said the saloon “will expand the appeal of the iconic performance model” and its introduction was driven by “strong, loyal and vocal support from thousands of enthusiastic owners”.
The Impreza saloon has undergone extensive development work at the Nürburgring and has significant suspension upgrades for the 2011 model.
Subaru describes it as the “best-handling WRX STI ever”; changes include a lower ride height, stiffer bushes, higher-rate springs and thicker front and rear anti-roll bars. New, lightweight 18-inch alloy wheels feature alongside upgraded Brembo brakes.
Styling changes at the front include sharper creasing on the bumper, a new grille, a new lip spoiler and a new headlight design. Wider wheel arches also feature, as does a new rear bumper design.
Power comes from a 301bhp version of Subaru’s turbocharged 2.5-litre flat four engine, which sends power to all four wheels through a six-speed manual gearbox. Three driving modes are offered that change driving characteristics: Intelligent, Sport and Sport Sharp.
A Subaru insider wouldn’t be drawn on whether the five-door Impreza STi would now be axed.