Subaru Might Be Planning a Return to WRC With New Hot Hatch
Subaru is one of the most revered names in rallying history and, along with archrival Mitsubishi, has been absent from top-level WRC competition for a decade. Now, however, Japanese sources point to a possible resurgence of the Subaru WRC program.
Subaru built its reputation in rallying over a relatively short period of time. the Subaru World Rally Team was formed in 1989 and was active for less than two decades from that point on. But, in those two decades, Subaru put forth some of the most amazing machines ever seen on the WRC scene and promoted some of the sport’s most beloved drivers with names like Colin McRae, Richard Burns and Petter Solberg immediately springing to mind.
Sadly, Subaru isn’t part of the WRC anymore, although a no-limit rally car based on the Impreza has been seen competing to this day, however, it’s mainly racing in Asia and the Rally U.S.A. series, not in Europe. This is all about to change if rumors regarding a return of the Subaru World Rally Team in 2020 turn out to be legitimate.
Travis Pastrana Goes Full Throttle at Wild New NRX Track
Travis Pastrana didn’t mince his words describing the NRX track, calling it a “hell track for cars.” Pastrana knows a thing or two about hell track for racers. He’s competed — and won — in supercross, motocross, freestyle motocross, and rally racing. But even with his accomplishments, Pastrana still paid reverence to the track that will be used in the Nitro World Games by taking us on a flying lap around the circuit.
The Subaru WRX STI has enjoyed a rich history over the last 20 years here in the U.S., with the first model officially hitting our shores in 1994. The hopped-up version of the Impreza came from Subaru’s skunkworks division, Subaru Tecnica International and featured 250 horsepower from its flat four-cylinder and of course, all-wheel drive. Now while the Impreza sedan moved into a new generation in 2011, Subaru left the WRX STI stuck in the third generation through 2014. Essentially the automaker was building two generations of cars simultaneously, just for the STI crowd. As 2015 rolls around, Subaru has moved the WRX STI onto the new Impreza platform while keeping the same 2.5-liter, turbo flat-four as before, but adding all the welcomed improvements with the fourth-gen car. It also dropped the Impreza name, leaving just the Subaru WRX STI nomenclature on the window sticker.
I recently spent a week with the new and improved 2015 STI, flogging it around dirt roads and twisty tarmac, driving it as it should be driven. I also babied it down country highways and interstate jaunts to squeeze every last drop of fuel and treated it like a daily driver.
So does the new car live up to its rally heritage while giving owners more comfort and conveniences? Keep reading to find out.
Click past the jump for more on the 2015 Subaru WRX STI
When it comes to bragging rights attached to production cars, most automakers quote the electrifying Nurburgring lap times achieved by their hatchbacks or supercars. Subaru, however, is taking pride in a benchmark set on course that’s more familiar to motorcycle riders than sharp-witted, fast drivers - the Isle of Man TT road course.
Three years have passed since a 2010 Subaru WRX STI driven by three-time British rally champion Mark Higgins set the car lap record at 19 minutes and 56.7 seconds, and the same team returned to the Isle of Man to improve the benchmark. And Higgins did so by hooning a 2015 WRX STI around the track and past the finish line in only 19 minutes and 26 seconds, smashing his previous record by no less than 30 seconds.
Durring his attempt, the British driver managed to reach an average speed of 116.47 mph and a top speed of 162.9 mph, two figures that are also superior to the ones he touched back in 2011. According to Subaru, the WRX STI used for the record-breaking course is a stock, U.S.-spec model that received some updates, including a FIA-approved roll-cage, racing seats, improved springs and dampers, and a fire suppression system. Additionally, the sedan was fitted with Dunlop Derezza at all four corners and had its speed limiter - normally set at 155 mph - removed.
Click past the jump to read more about Subaru’s Isle of Man record.
Bragging rights are a funny thing when it comes to setting records in the auto industry. Everyone shoots for it and once they achieve it, they try to break their own records in an attempt to become better than...themselves. So excuse Subaru for trying to show that it’s better than what it was in 2011 when it set the four-wheeled lap record on the world-famous Isle of Man TT course. That’s because the Japanese automaker is shooting to break the 19 minutes and 56.7 second lap time it set three years ago with British rally champion Mark Higgins.
Later this month, Subaru will once again go to the Isle of Man, only this time it’s bringing the 2015 WRX STI performance saloon to the record attempt. Common sense suggests that since the old record was set by the WRX STI’s predecessor, the 2015 model should have little problem blowing that lap time record away, right?
Well, it’s still easier said than done, especially when you take into consideration how tricky it is to run through a lap without damaging the car. On that end, Subaru did its part by giving the WRX STI some sturdier safety equipment, including adjusting the springs and dampers, as well as fitting the car with a roll-cage, race harness and fire suppression system.
Preparation’s the easy part, but actually achieving what you set out for is the tough part. Hopefully, Higgins and Subaru get to toast to another year of having the fastest time around the Isle of Man TT course.
Pictured Above is Subaru’s 2011 record-setting run at the Isle of Man.
Click past the jump to read more about the Subaru WRX STi.
The 2014 STI risks getting lost in the shuffle of the next-gen WRX’s launch at this fall’s Los Angeles auto show. As is customary for Subaru when upgrading the Impreza-based models, the next-gen STI will follow the regular WRX as a projected 2016 model year intro.
That is more than enough time to fall in love again with the current model’s brash styling, forceful turbocharged power delivery, and better tech integration in the cockpit than ever before. 305 horsepower and a 4.7-second sprint to 60 mph means the WRX STI is still a favorite here in the TopSpeed Garage.
Introduced for 2011, the current STI’s strength as a Subaru performance flagship is fully intact. As a low-volume model, its boxer rumble casts a performance glow over even the base $18,000 Impreza sedan. No changes to the STI for 2014, aside from the audio system now offering integration of Aha’s music app.
First-hand driving impressions of this track toy are included, as are comparisons with the WRX STI’s potent competition from the BMW 135i and Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution.
Click past the jump for the full TopSpeed Garage review of the 2014 Subaru WRX STI, still a game-changer with wild turbo boost and AWD traction to make every corner seem like a straightaway.
Last week, the Subaru Rally Team released episode 1 of its two-part "Launch Control" web series chronicling the exploits of the Rally America and the Global RallyCross seasons this year.
Subaru promised that episode 2 of the series would be released shortly thereafter and to its credit, the automaker lived up to it with the release of the the second episode of Launch Control today.
This time, the Subaru Rally Team USA find themselves in Michigan for the 2013 Sno*Drift Rally. The one-off ice and snow has been described as beyond treacherous, where the smallest of mistakes can prove costly for the driver and the team.
But despite all of that, the team is still competing with the best of ’em and drivers David Higgins and Craig Drew are competing against the rest of the field in a course that proves to be far more difficult than anybody previously anticipated.
Like episode 1, the series’ second episode is a must-watch for fans of Subaru, rally racing, and specially fans of both.
Click past the jump to watch episode 1 of Launch Control
If there’s one thing we’ve come to know about a web series, it’s that you can’t miss any of it, especially if it’s about the auto industry. Just a few months ago, Koenigsegg had one and it was phenomenal. A few years ago, Chevrolet Racing had another that was equally entertaining.
This time, it’s Japanese automaker, Subaru, or to be more specific, Subaru’s Rally Team USA that is producing a web series. The web series is called "Launch Control" and evidently, it goes behind the scenes on how the team does in both the Rally America and the Global RallyCross seasons this year.
To get thing going, episode 1 of Launch Control introduces us to a man who definitely needs no introductions if you’re a fan rally facing: defending Rally America champion, David Higgins.
The episode takes us on an in-depth look at how Higgins prepares for an arduous rallying season from his home in Wales. In addition to seeing the defending champ’s preparations, we’ll also learn a little more about Higgins’ team as it prepares his car at the Vermont Sports Car in time for the opening of rally season.
The second episode is scheduled to be released on the first of May 1 so until then, check out the first episode of Subaru’s new "Launch Control" web series.
Who is Tyler Witte? Just like you, we have never heard of the guy before watching this video. In short, he is a 25-year-old driver from Cincinnati, Ohio. “Okay, why is he featured on Top Speed” may be your next question. It’s because he is our kind of guy: he has an incredible passion for cars and most importantly, he developed the car of his dreams from the ground up.
His car is not the best car we’ve seen, as it’s just a Subaru Impreza that he "bought from a friend," but the fact that he invested tons of his own money into transforming that car into an amazing rally racer makes him a man cut from the TopSpeed cloth. Yeah, there are better cars out there that teams with millions of dollars have built, but to see a man without a silver spoon in his mouth pull this off is inspiring.
Everything he did on the car, he did by himself; from bending, cutting, notching and welding the roll cage to assembling the transmission’s guts.
You can see the results of his hard work by watching the above video that includes some fun obstacles and stunts at a private rally facility. We wish Mr. Witte the best of luck!
Subaru Rally Team USA has been more than a fixture in the Rally America champion series; they’ve flat out dominated it in recent years. So it’s not surprising that the team is returning for the 2013 season with enormous expectations of repeating their 2012 title-winning season.
This season, the duo of David Higgins and Craig Drew are set to unleash on Rally America anew and they’ve prepared the perfect steed, the 2013 Subaru WRX STI Rally Car, to help them do the job.
It certainly goes without saying that the championship will run through this team and if there are any challengers out there, they better expect nothing short of a competitive throw down against a team that has made a habit of scooping up Rally America titles in recent years.
And with the 2013 WRX STI Rally Car in the fold, the path to the championship will be much more difficult for the rest of the teams. We’ve been fans of Rally America since its inception in 2005 - yeah, back in the days when Travis Pastrana was behind Subaru’s four-straight championships from 2006 through 2009 - and trust us, it’s hard to bet against a team that has walked away with the title in seven of the eight years the series has been alive.
Typically, when you think of a 90-year-old person driving you think of the following: a cushion on the seat so they can see over the wheel, the never-ending turn signal, hard and unnecessary braking, 15-second delays between the light turning green and them pulling away, and taking every small turn as if it were a hairpin turn. Okay, maybe that’s a little bit of stereotyping, but we’re going to call it like we see it.
One thing that would likely not cross your mind is a gravel and dirt stomping, tail wagging, rally grandma. Well, you can scratch that one, as we have just come across a video of a 91-year-old lady, who neither looks nor acts her age. She decided to give rallycross a shot and wagged an `ol Suby’s tail all over some gravel and dirt.
Though she looked to be in a subdued panic a lot of the time, she really did a pretty good job navigating the course. Her co-driver was right along with her, guiding her through the course as she went. She does, however, fly off-course at the end. You can actually hear her say “Did I hit the cone.” Her co-driver then jokingly responds “You went off course, which is worse than hitting a cone, unfortunately.”
Okay, maybe she’s not the next Sebastien Loeb, but it still takes a little bit of gall to do what she did, regardless of the fact that she never actually left first gear. Take a look at the video, it’s definitely worth it.
This picture may be a little old — from the 2007 Goodwood Festival of Speed rally — but it still captures the essence of rally racing. Not only are rallys hard to photograph because of the limited angles you have, but the high speeds and bouncing that the cars do make it nearly impossible.
Well, Kolin Tregaskes caught Colin McRae’s Subaru WRX heading up the Goodwood Forest Rally at the Festival of Speed. Yup, Goodwood has more than just an awesomely technical road course.
You get to see this blue rocket propelling between the trees, likely at speeds most of us would not hot on the interstate, let alone off road. In his trail is nothing but a light cloud of dust.
Even with Tregaskes’ steady hand and likely high-end digital camera, the violent bouncing of McRae’s car still comes through as a light blur. This makes you wonder exactly how these rally drivers can even see the path they are piloting.
Nice grab by Kolin Tregaskes. Make sure to catch his entire Flickr portfolio here to see other great shots.
So, Toyota is ready to present their GT-86 endurance race car? Subaru isn’t sweating that one out because they themselves have a racer up their sleeves.
The Subaru BRZ, the GT 86’s sister from another mister, is getting a race-spec version, except that instead of it hitting the endurance block, it’s being primed for the rally scene.
The car, which is being called the BRZ "Zero Car" or "Opening Car," actually made its debut at the 2012 Japan Rally Championship on July 28th and 29th as a race-livered sports car that has been customized for rally use. It has a number of new features, including a front chin spoiler and a rear wing, as well as a new set of white-finished alloy wheels.
Further details about the car are expected to be revealed by the Japanese automaker in the coming days. What we do know is that, judging by the photo Subaru dropped on us over the weekend, the BRZ "Zero" is looking like it has a future in the rally scene, not just in Japan, but everywhere else as well.
We all have our own tolerance level for speed and danger, and rally racing is about the limit for most automotive buffs. We see these guys whipping around turns and sliding in loose gravel at speeds best reserved for smooth tarmac and we think “yea, not for me.” All we ever really get to see though is the outside of the car and rarely do we ever get a look at what really goes on inside the car during a live rally.
Subaru rally driver, David Higgins, and his co-driver, Craig Drew, decided it was time to let us in on what it is really like behind the wheel of a 300+ horsepower machine in loose dirt. First and foremost, Craig Drew sounds like he was once an auctioneer, as he quickly blurts out the upcoming turns, and its recommended speed. How exactly he manages to keep an eye on his track notes while flying around turns and bouncing up and down is beyond us.
Secondly, Subaru mounted a forward-pointing camera, so we can see the track live as Drew and Higgins tackle it. Even seeing the video of their running in the Rally America Susquehannock Trail Rally in Wellsboro, PA was enough to make us a little uneasy, so we could only imagine what kind of training both drivers went through to manage to slither down this track that is barely wide enough for a four-wheeler, let alone a rally car, at speeds obviously in excess of 100 mph.
Truly scary stuff. Take a look at the video and see if you could actually handle the craziness that these guys do.
Looks like Ken Block isn’t the only one that can drop Gymkhana at the drop of a hat.
German shoemaker Puma is entering the world of RallyCross as an official sponsor to the Subaru PUMA RallyCross Team and to commemorate this occasion, they’ve decided that a suitable introductory video on its new team would suffice.
So they went and produced a video featuring their drivers, Dave Mirra, Bucky Lasek, and Sverre Isachsen all getting down and smoky with their respective RallyCross vehicles. In the ensuing video, you’re going to see plenty of burning tires, extraordinary drifting, and sliding action, all in the ode of Block’s Gymkhana routine.
Check out the video and watch how PUMA is introducing itself to the world of RallyCross.
And while you’re at it, be sure to bump up the volume and put it on HD. High definition drifting never looked as good and as spectacular as the video you’re about to see.
We’ve waited for this show since the summertime so you need to excuse us for getting all geeked up about its premier episode tonight on Speed. Featuring some of the best rally drivers and drifters this side of the galaxy, the Battle Cross Gymkhana Series will see these racers burn rubber on some of the most extreme locations you can find. As you can imagine, the first episode will be held in a steel mill, which is always a good location if you want dust to fly and mayhem to ensue.
The two drivers that will be featured in tonight’s episode will be 2011 Rally America Champion David Higgins and teammate Dave Mirra in their respective Subaru Impreza WRX STI rally cars. As far as mechanics go, the whole competition is centered around two challenges with the first one going to whoever posts the fastest lap while the second one will be awarded to who could do it with more style.
The show will be hosted by rally driver Andrew Comrie-Picard and former WWE Diva Stacy Keibler and the judges will be rally driver Stephan Verdier and drift maestro Samuel Hubinette.
The show kicks off tonight, November 17, 2011, at 10pm EST, so be sure to be in front of your TVs when the flags are waved and the sand-flying chaos ensues. Or if you’re anything like us, set your DVR and get the opportunity to fly by commercials.
We found out about this special 2008 Subaru WRX STI on Ebay only after bidding for the car closed, but since the reservation price wasn’t met, we think that anybody willing to take a flyer on it could still acquire it under the right price.
This particular WRX STI is painted yellow and while it might not be the most notable color choice, it has that color for a reason, which we’ll get into in a bit.
Among the features of this WRX STI include, a gravel-tire tread design over the hood and roof, a downpipe, an ECU tune, SPT front strut and lower chassis braces, and a set of Work Emotion XD9 18" x 9" wheels in custom satin black that comes with BF Goodrich g-Force Super Sport A/S 275/35 ZR18 tires. As for the interior, there’s a carbon fiber pattern trim, alcantara seats, yellow piping, and a slew of electronic features that would make it look like its own Best Buy store.
Oh, and about that yellow paint. It’s the signature color of the man who owns it. Yep, no less than two-time X-Games rally champion, Travis Pastrana.
The car’s only got 5,668 miles on it with Pastrana having driven it himself. He also signed it to make it more awesome. In case you’re wondering where he got this car, it was actually given to him by Subaru as a gift for his rally exploits in the past three years while driving a Subaru.
The Japanese all wheel drive automaker Subaru unveiled the latest addition to the Subaru Road Racing Team this past weekend with their entry in the Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge series at the Daytona Speedway as a precursor to the acclaimed Rolex 24 hour race at Daytona. The race ready Subaru Impreza WRX STI is a wide body version of the standard five door STI powered by a boosted flat four and features a driver selectable power train and dynamic handling controls to ensure world class performance for the Japanese sport compact.
The SRRT STI-R is motivated by a high output version of Subaru’s 2.5 Liter turbocharged and intercooled four cylinder Boxer engine that produces a maximum output of 305 HP and is mated to a six speed manual transmission that features Subaru’s advanced Driver Controlled Center Differential (DCCD) version of Subaru Symmetrical All Wheel Drive that allows the torque to be manually split between the front and rear axle. The SRRT Impreza WRX STI also features a lightweight suspension made up of lots of aluminum pieces to ensure that the road racing STI is light on its feet with as little unsprung mass as possible and a Brembo Performance Brake System to ensure that their drivers don’t encounter brake fade no matter how many times they run deep into the turns.
Press release after the jump.
You’ve probably seen this video a thousand times dubbed countless other times; but still, you probably can’t help watching it over and over again, especially if it comes out with some new material.
The Adolf Hitler ‘Downfall parodies’ have been nothing short of hilarious and the latest one, which involves Hitler’s reaction when he finds out that rally car driver Ken Block has switched from his beloved Subaru to Ford is arguably one of the best versions we’ve seen. We don’t know who to feel worse for; Hitler for seeing Subaru lose its driver to the ‘enemy’ or Subaru for having Hitler as a fan.
But hey, at least Travis Pastrana has a new fan now.
Trust us; the video is a must-watch and if you’ve got a few minutes to spare, we invite you to check it out; it’s worth the laughs.
Although the Japanese automaker Subaru pulled out of their factory backed World Rally Championship efforts, the company that built those iconic blue WRC competitors, Prodrive, are still working hard on new versions of the purpose built rally car for privateer racers. Prodrive has just released details about the 2010 Group N Subaru Impreza that will compete in 2010, priced at just under $200,000 the Prodrive Subaru Impreza N2010 WRC is sure to deliver for those willing to take the risk on the stages of the World Rally Championship.
The Impreza N2010 utilizes a new larger 33 mm air restrictor connected to the turbocharged. The new piece was introduced by the FIA in order to help balance the performance between the Group N and unrestricted Super2000 rally cars. Simply by increasing the size of the opening by only one millimeter, fitting a set of high flow fuel injectors and recalibrating the ECU to make everything work harmoniously gives the Scooby a 20 HP bump while beefing up the torque curve and increasing throttle response throughout the entire RPM band while the new Ohlins suspension ensures that the all wheel drive rally car stays on course until the end of the stage.
Press release after the jump.
If you don’t remember D.C. Shoes cofounder Ken Block’s tire smoking gymkhana antics, then we suggest you take a moment to refresh yourself with his catalog of adrenaline inducing videos with his power sliding sideways Subaru as the star of the show. In a recent interview with Edmund’s Inside Line, Block admits that his first generation gymkhana car was nothing more than an extremely modified streetcar that had gone through a series of complete revisions. The STI started out as a way for Ken and friends to enjoy cross country rallies before dabbling in the world of the Japanese art of autocross know as gymkhana. Gymkhana is like any other time trial that takes place in an oversized parking lot, except there is a lot more rally style sliding in order to get your car around the orange cone even quicker.
So when Block wanted to get serious about gymkhana, he contact the folks at Crawford Performance and teamed up to produce a race ready 2008 Subaru Impreza WRX STI. The first thing that the racers did was shed every unnecessary ounce from the STI and then stiffen the chassis with an extensive roll cage. Weighing in at 2,775 pounds, the Crawford car is almost 600 pounds lighter than a stock STI. The weight reduction helps the 565 HP high performance flat four make the Subaru absolutely fly. Almost every part of the stroked 2.65 Liter boxer engine has been replaced in favor of lightweight reinforced pieces. Sitting atop the neon green powder coated charge pipes is a Garret GT35R turbocharger that compresses a maximum of 30 psi of boost to make a total of 590 E85 burning lb-ft of torque.
One thing that you don’t get an appreciation for with those slow motion pans and rubber burning power slides is exactly how quick Ken Block’s car is in a straight line. First of all launching an all wheel drive turbocharged car can be difficult, you have to get the revs up around 7,000 to keep the turbo spinning and then absolutely dump the clutch so that all four drive wheels can get power without bogging out the engine. But after all the Crawford STI is a racecar and even without the aid of fifth gear it can go from 0 to 60 MPH in just 3.0 seconds and run the standing quarter mile in only 10.8 seconds at 123.7 seconds on a set of 275/35R18 BFGoodrich g-Force Drag Radials, now that is 0.7 seconds faster than a Corvette ZR-1 super car, so you know that this tuned STI is fast.
Our chat with Subaru left us sensing that the Japanese automaker is moving their lineup in a much more luxurious direction than it has in current years, now there is nothing wrong with this approach to selling cars, in fact it is a pretty smart one, but what about the boy racer in all of us that lusted after owning the same blue and gold car that Colin McRae raced to multi WRC championships. One of our concerns with the automotive arm of Fuji Heavy Industries withdrawing from the World Rally Championship is that their cars could lose that competitive performance edge, but the entry level Impreza has been replaced by the more spacious Legacy as Subaru’s GT300 competitor in the Super GT championship and a much more mundane version is currently being campaigned in the Koni Challenge Series here in the U.S. which makes sense because even the old WRC car was a Legacy. So with all this attention being paid to the larger vehicles in their lineup what is going to happen to the STi?
When I told the Subaru representative that my favorite of all time is the mighty 22B STi, he knew exactly what myself, and most WRX enthusiasts, were looking for in the next version of the best bargain sports car on the market. The 22B was built back in 1998 to celebrate the automaker’s 40th anniversary and by that point, multiple World Rally Championships. This special edition Impreza started out as a lightweight WRX RA coupe shell and then had a set of much wider rear arches to match the boxed front fenders that housed special gold BBS wheels, which widened the Subaru’s track and made it look just as bad as the WRC car.
Update 04.01.2010: Official release the new 2010 WRX Sti is introduced at the 2010 New York Auto Show.
Update 04.27.2010: We just receive the first picture of the 2011 Sedan WRX STi caught in the wild, Thanks to Robbie Tigan for the tip!
Continued after the jump.