Subaru previously hinted it may kill off the manual transmission in the name of safety, but Subaru North America CEO Tom Doll has alleviated enthusiasts' fears; the next-generation Subaru WRX will still offer a manual transmission.
He made the comments during an interview with Drive, published this Wednesday. "We’ll still have manual transmissions in our performance line like for the WRX, but just not in the Forester," Doll said.
News of the manual's death at Subaru first arose at last month's Geneva motor show. There, Subaru U.K. Managing Director Chris Graham said automatic emergency braking would likely spell the end of the stick shift. The brand's EyeSight system houses a suite of active safety features, including automatic emergency braking. The trouble is, the system does not work with manual transmissions, which have a clutch pedal that must be depressed to keep the car from stalling out when stopping.
Notably, the automatic emergency braking systems from Mazda and Honda are compatible with manual transmissions, and they simply let the car stall rather than get in an accident, unless the driver is quick enough to push in the clutch. Even if the driver isn't that quick, how hard is it to restart a car?
Thus far, Subaru has made no comment suggesting it would develop something similar. Instead, Subaru's Lineartronic continuously variable transmission (CVT) will become the sole option across most of the brand's vehicles. The BRZ is the only model offered with a traditional 6-speed automatic.
Doll noted the manual transmission take-rate hovers around just 3-5 percent for the Forester and reiterated the efficiency and ease of use is simply greater with the CVT.
The next WRX will likely pull plenty of inspiration from the Viziv Performance concept shown at the 2017 Tokyo motor show. The concept allegedly features a turbocharged flat-4 boxer engine, but there's also a rumor the next WRX and WRX STI, due around 2020, may show up as a hybrid, likely with that same engine.