Here's some news that just might ruin your weekend. Subaru is apparently considering dropping support for the manual gearbox in its pursuit to build the safest cars in the world. Just so we're clear, this is Subaru we're talking about. Makers of the gloriously old-school WRX STI and BRZ. Yeah.
Speaking to Auto Express at the Geneva Motor Show, Subaru U.K. managing director Chris Graham says the manual's days may be numbered because it isn't compatible with the company's EyeSight suite of active safety tech, thus making the clutch pedal something that would hold the company back from its goal of making safety a primary selling point.
"I’m not sure if it’s compatible at all with a manual gearbox. There are certainly no rumors we’ve heard that manual will continue, or EyeSight will be [offered] with a manual," said Graham. "My gut tells me it will be EyeSight with Lineartronic [CVT] ongoing and long-term. They want to steal the mantle of the safest car in the world. I think if they do that, then they say 'here’s a manual without EyeSight,' they’ll just ruin that."
As for the brand's more performance-oriented vehicles, Graham tells enthusiasts not to worry, pointing to the continued success of BMW's automatic-only M cars. "For me, an STI has to be a manual in the guise it is today, however, if you look at [auto-only] M-series BMWs, I don’t think this is the end and I'd be very excited if they had a hybrid petrol STI. That would be phenomenal in terms of its acceleration."
While we don't doubt an auto-only, hybrid STI would be—on paper, at least—quite the performer, that clunking noise you hear in the distance is the sound of every Craigslist WRX suddenly becoming 15 percent more expensive than they already were.
We've reached out to Subaru for further comment and will update this story if we hear back.
UPDATE: In an email to The Drive, a Subaru spokesperson clarified that the company is "investing in manuals for the future," so don't start mourning the Subaru stick shifts just yet.