The collectors’ market for the few petrol-powered performance cars that don’t cost the earth is heating up as ever tightening emissions regulations move automotive companies towards an electric future.
One such recent example is the limited edition Subaru Saigo WRX STI, 20 of which landed in New Zealand last year. Saigo can mean both ‘most recent’ and ‘final’ in Japanese.
The signature model (above and below) signed off on the life of the fourth-generation WRX STI. All 20 sold quickly, each priced at $67,990. Now a used one has sold in Auckland for a reported $100,000.
What price the remaining 19 now that Subaru has confirmed Saigo will be the last STI (Subaru Tecnica International) model, at least with petrol power?
Saigo badge aside, what price the fourth-generation WRX STI anyway, especially one in tip-top condition, its boosted 2.5-litre flat-four engine delivering 221kW/407Nm? The owner of one such example with a six-speed manual gearbox is said to be wanting $80-85,000.
The range first went on sale here in 2015, priced between $59,990-$64,990. The few models now listed online sit between $63,990 and $69,990. The signs for a continued price hike are there.
Remember the ultra-exclusive WRX STi 22b of the late 1990s? The factory made only 399. Subaru NZ imported two, each selling at $120,000. A handful of used examples were imported privately too. A pristine 22b these days can fetch $500,000.
Already the arrival in a matter of weeks of the fifth-generation 2022 WRX has whipped up further interest in never-again models. It too is likely to be the last WRX with petrol power, in this case a boosted and more fuel efficient 2.4-litre flat-four delivering 202kW/350Nm. The Japanese domestic WRX is apparently tuned for 375Nm.
What is likely to lure investors/collectors to the new model is a Downunder exclusive – New Zealand and Australia are the only two countries to get a wagon variant along with the sedan. WRX exhaust emissions rule the car out of the European market.
The wagon will be badged WRX GT and the sedan WRX 2.4T. Subaru NZ managing director Wallis Dumper is particularly pleased with the options. “Performance wagons have a special place in New Zealand’s Subaru history,” he said. “Before WRX moved globally to sedans only, we used to sell about 50/50 sedans to wagons.”
Meantime, the Japanese carmaker has left the door open for a return of the WRX STI badge at a later date, perhaps once the new WRX generation meets its end around 2030. Subaru added in its recent statement that it is “exploring opportunities for the next-generation Subaru WRX STI, including electrification.”
It pointed to its electric concept model with the STI badge, the STI E-RA, an experimental design aimed, among other things, at challenging the lap record for the Nurburgring circuit in Germany next year. E-RA stands for electric record attempt. The battery-electric car has four electric motors at each wheel generating 800kW.
- Subaru NZ also landed 18 examples of the Saigo STI’s sibling, the WRX Saigo, at $55,990. One listing on Trademe at a buy now $72,500 has 8600km on the clock.