In "Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure," George Carlin told Keanu Reeves "One great rock song can change the world." Somebody at Sony must have been listening then, because it was only a few years later that Sony/Polyphony released what must be considered "The Dark Side of the Moon" of racing video games: Gran Turismo.

Gran Turismo introduced Americans (and indeed much of the world) to such names as "Skyline," "Evolution" and of course, "WRX." It also sparked a renaissance among the younger generation for road racing, touring car racing, and especially endurance racing. It’s probably no coincidence that almost immediately after the game’s release, the organizers of the Nurburgring 24 Hour race threw open the flood gates to every class and kind of car imaginable.

Fast-forward some 20 years, and we have this: Subaru’s 2015 24 Hour NBR Endurance racer, which looks for all the world as though it were lifted straight from the game consoles of GT fanboys everywhere. There’s little doubt Subie’s making a statement with this one, considering the fact that they’ve unveiled it before releasing the car it’s based on for sale. Slated to race in NBR’s small-displacement/turbocharged SP3T class, the STI is a real contender for outright victory in Audi’s back yard. And you can bet that’s no game to them.

Click "Continue Reading" to learn more about the Subaru WRX STI Race Car.

Exterior

Subaru WRX STI SP3T Endurance Racer Exterior
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The last generation WRX was, to put it bluntly, a guppy-faced tadpole in a market of sharks.

The biggest story with the STI racer is clearly the exterior. Not just for the way it looks, which I think is utterly fantastic in that bonkers, Dutch Touring Car sort of way. But more so for the fact that it’s our first real glimpse of what STi has planned for this newest-generation WRX.

The last-generation WRX was, to put it bluntly, a guppy-faced tadpole in a market of sharks. It’s true that Subie went out of its way to make the Impreza a bit happier and a bit more appealing to people who spend more than the acceptable five minutes shopping for shoes. And they succeeded, mostly in making a car that nobody could take seriously.

The new WRX, though, is much more Mako than goldfish. True, it does look a bit like the unholy union of a BMW M4 and a Volvo V70R — but that’s not necessarily a bad thing in this market. And there is some family resemblance to the rear-drive BRZ jointly developed with Toyota, which isn’t a bad thing in any market.

From the front and side, you’ve got your normal touring-car assortment of carbon splitters, massive ducts, vents and gill slits. Wide fenders give this car a pleasantly muscular look, even if those rear flares are a bit stunted.

Speaking of the rear, that’s almost certainly this car’s most dramatic view. It lacks the massive and ridiculous diffuser of some of Subie’s other road racers, which might actually be large enough to swallow tailgating Audi TTs whole. By comparison at least, this STi is almost understated. That wing certainly isn’t, though. If it were any bigger or taller, the WRX’s wing would need landing lights to pull into the pits.

But, that is the STi way.

Interior

There isn’t one to speak of; and I haven’t counted the cupholders, but I’m betting there are fewer than in the typical Honda Odyssey. However, STi seems to have at least left in place the stock model’s bright, red Start/Stop button. It’s hard to find something racier than that at Pep Boys.

Drivetrain

Subaru WRX STI SP3T Endurance Racer Exterior
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Expect somewhere in the vicinity of 500 horsepower.

Subaru hasn’t said what they’re doing with the drivetrain at this point. The SP3T class is production-based, with a maximum displacement of 2.0 liters; so, odds are good they’ll use some variation of the 2.0-liter flat-four from the production model. Expect somewhere in the vicinity of 500 horsepower.

The stock WRX comes with either a six-speed manual or a CVT, so STi will probably go with the far sportier CVT automatic. Um, no. It’ll definitely be the six-speed; you can see them installing the clutch in the video above. Had you going for a second though, huh?

Otherwise, expect STi to retain the all-wheel-drive system. It’s heavy, but a Subaru without AWD would be like Scarlett Johansson without lips.

Prices

Subaru WRX STI SP3T Endurance Racer Exterior
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If you have to ask, you probably work in the accounting department at Subaru.

Competition

If the last several years are any indication, Audi will probably prove Subaru’s primary SP3T class competition. The TT RS fielded by Scuderia Colonia finished 31st overall last year, just ahead of Subaru. However, last year’s race was a nightmare of crashes and yellow flags, and Subaru didn’t help its own cause much when its car was caught passing someone under one of those yellow flags. That resulted in a costly time penalty, which may in itself have put Subaru out of the running.

Conclusion

Subaru WRX STI SP3T Endurance Racer Exterior
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Hopefully, this year will be better for all involved, in particular Subaru. The STi has proven a real threat every one of the last eight years it’s competed in the NBR 24 Hours, taking a class victory twice. Will 2015 prove Subaru’s great year, the one that cements this Japanese underdog’s status in the NBR Hall of Fame? Will it do all those Gran Turismo fanboys proud, and send Audi home packing from its own playground? One great performance here could change the world of touring car racing in Europe...or it could make for one Bogus Journey home to Japan. Just ask Bill and Ted.

We’ll find out soon.

Press Release

STI will take part in the 43rd Nürburgring 24-Hour Race held at the Nürburgring in Germany from Thursday 14 to Sunday 17 May with the SUBARU WRX STI. This will be its 8th consecutive year to compete in the race since 2008. Based on the WRX STI, the racecar has been tuned in various areas such as the aerodynamics, suspension, rigidity of the body and output of the engine. With this car, STI will be aiming to reclaim its dominance in the SP3T class for cars with turbo charged engines displacing 2-liters or less. Taking advantage of the characteristics of the high-spec base car, the performance of the whole package has been enhanced and together with its past experience in the 24-hour race, the team will be looking to achieve even better results than ever. Hideharu Tatsumi from STI will act as General Team Manager while STI employees and dealer mechanics picked from selected SUBARU dealerships across Japan will operate the team. As for drivers from Europe, Marcel Lasée and Carlo van Dam will be joined for the first time by Tim Schrick, the 2014 VLN champion. Kouta Sasaki from Japan will also be driving for the team as he did last year.

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