Subaru Australia has addressed recent rumours surrounding a possible return to rallying, confirming it is importing a limited number of competition-spec WRX STI motorsport cars for use by "enthusiasts and professional teams".
Unable to be road registered, the Subaru WRX STI models are FIA-homologated and designed to suit the newest NR4 regulations – which replace the previous N4 and R4 classes. The spec also means all will be eligible to compete in regional and progressive national WRC2 and ERC2 championships.
Today’s confirmation comes after Subaru Australia national corporate affairs manager David Rowley last week told CarAdvice, "[There’s] nothing on the horizon” for the brand in terms of the local rallying scene (read: Australian Rally Championship or ARC).
Today Rowley made things crystal clear, saying, "This doesn’t represent a return to the ARC for Subaru."
Priced from $38,000, CarAdvice understands the initial cars will total 10 in number, however, that figure could rise depending on demand. All will be available in either White or WR Blue, with buyers required to fit FIA-approved roll cages as necessary – though this can be ordered at the time of purchase and fitted pre-delivery.
Exclusively powered by turbocharged 2.0-litre 'Boxer' four-cylinder engines that produce 227kW of power and 422Nm of torque in Japanese Domestic Market (JDM) WRX STIs – the standard Australian-specification WRX STI road cars (which start at $49,990) employ 221kW/407Nm 2.5-litre units – the imported cars are currently having a range of competition packages developed for them by long-time Subaru motorsport partner Possum Bourne Motorsport (PBMS).
Subaru Australia managing director Nick Senior said in a statement, “Current production WRX and WRX STI have taken interest in these turbocharged legends back to the peak levels we saw in the late 1990s, and with that has come a whole new wave of interest in using them for motorsport activities.
“These cars represent fantastic value for motorsport enthusiasts.”
Subaru Australia exited Australian rallying at the end of 2005, but 2016 regulation changes once again permitting four-wheel-drive turbocharged models to compete makes a possible factory-backed return for the brand, at the very least, a distant possibility. Stay tuned...