2014 Subaru WRX spy shot

Few mainstream hot hatches have tugged as many heartstrings in the last decade or so than the Subaru WRX. From its turbocharged four-cylinder heart to the traction of its all-wheel-drive footprint, Rex has been the benchmark by which others are judged since its debut in the States as a 2002 model. Suffice it to say that the next WRX, due in 2014, has mighty big shoes to fill.

Judging by the spy photos you see above, those shoes will be planted under bodywork that's not particularly different from that of the standard Impreza. We'd be lying if we said we weren't hoping for a bit more pizazz from this fourth-gen WRX, but most of its tepid styling – assuming these images are indeed indicative of the 2014 WRX – would be forgiven if the machine boasts more turbocharged performance than ever before.

As you can see, Subaru's engineering team brought along a current third-gen WRX hatchback for testing alongside the new model, and a brief comparison shows how much more restrained the styling of the latest Impreza is when compared to its forebear. We also note what appears to be an intercooler sticking further up into the hood scoop than the third-gen model, which could mean a turbocharged version of Subie's new FA engine is underhood. We'll have to wait and see. In the meantime, peruse the images above and carry on speculating.