Subaru teased us with the introduction to a new series featuring rally cars in North America. And now we have episode 1.
Rallying is the most original form of motorsports. It takes us back to the days when there were no paved roads in the country – but with modern cars and engines. The object is simply to get the fastest time on a closed off section of back-country road, called a “stage”, and there are several of them over the course of a day or two.
No restrictions, no excuses. And thankfully, no Olympian egos, no Danica Patrick love life, no redneck fist fights, or any other drama. Safety? No whining about how many guardrails a track should have – there isn’t a track and there are no guardrails. Just driving in its purest form.
One of the highlights of our own motorsport hobby has been attending professional rallies in Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Washington. We were never able to attend the Sno*Drift rally, unfortunately, but hope to do so one day. As the name says, it’s in the dead of winter, and the conditions are the worst possible. And that’s exactly what ralliests do.
Go full screen, turn up your volume, and enjoy!
With sales booming and the economy picking up, Subaru is in a financial position to increase their focus on rally events even further. But with the current WRX and WRX STI fairly dated and a much-needed replacement just over the horizon (recently seen testing at the Nurburgring), it’s more important than ever to keep momentum going to support sales. Hence, a new series of videos highlighting factory rally teams competing in Rally and RallyCross.
Kudos to Subaru for keeping support of the hobby going thru the economic downturn! And for creating the following *terrific* video. Learn more at Subaru’s dedicated site: http://subaru.com/rally.
Subaru Press Release and video follow:
Subaru Releases “Launch Control”
• Action packed new web-series with an all-access pass behind the scenes of the Subaru Factory Rally and RallyCross Teams
Cherry Hill, N.J., – Subaru of America Inc. has released the first episode of “Launch Control”, a bi-weekly web video series that chronicles Subaru Rally Team USA and the Subaru PUMA RallyCross Team as they prepare for and compete in a fast-paced 2013 race season spanning the globe. With a mix of in-car video, car prep and driver interviews, “Launch Control” is the story of two teams, everything it takes to win and everything that gets in the way.
In the debut episode of “Launch Control,” Subaru Rally Team USA driver and defending Rally America Champion David Higgins is training for the upcoming season at his home in Wales, UK, while the crew at Vermont Sports Car, the Subaru technical partner managing both teams, is hard at work in the shop preparing the 2013 Subaru WRX STI team cars for a the season ahead.
If there is a team that knows what goes into winning a championship, SRT USA would be it. Subaru’s 2012 Rally America championship victory marked their second in a row and their sixth in seven years.
RallyCross, on the other hand, is relatively new for the team. Competing in the emerging Global RallyCross Championship the team must tackle new venues, new race formats, new rules and new cars. Challenging the established RallyCross teams from Europe, the learning curve for team drivers Bucky Lasek, Dave Mirra and team leader and three-time European RallyCross Champion Sverre Isachsen, has been steep.
“Launch Control” will follow the trials and triumphs of these two teams throughout their 2013 seasons and give viewers a behind the scenes look at the efforts of the drivers, engineers and mechanics as they fight for victories.
Episode 2 will air on May 1st
At the New York International Auto Show this week, Subaru presented its concept of the next WRX. We love it!
The current WRX and STI are built off of the previous Impreza chassis… the current Impreza having moved up in the world (and improved considerably) over a year ago. The concept is build on top of the new Impreza chassis, so there aren’t any surprises there. Then there is the styling of the concept… which is of course not the production car (like most concepts, the over-sized wheels and tires wouldn’t provide enough suspension travel to service in the real world). And the question of the roof profile and height – which are not production and again subject to major change (you’ll note the rear windows are likely unable to roll down). Same for the concept flares, the brakes, and the 20″ wheels (although at 245, the width is likely to remain).
Subaru didn’t say anything about the engine, but it’s likely to be the same variation on the BRZ motor that has already been introduced into other lines with turbocharging and direct injection (by Subaru, not the Toyota system) and a bit more power.
Selected images from our Gallery (32 high-res images):
Subaru Press Release follows:
March 28, 2013
THE ALL-NEW SUBARU WRX CONCEPT DEBUTS AT THE 2013 NEW YORK INTERNATIONAL AUTO SHOW
- SUBARU WRX CONCEPT hints at next generation WRX design language
- Focus is on sharp handling, AWD grip and turbo power
The bold and muscular design emphasizes turbocharged power and AWD grip in a more agile and athletic form. The SUBARU WRX CONCEPT blends the WRX’s famous power and road-holding prowess with an even greater focus on sharp handling, steering and communicative chassis. To further improve handling dynamics, the SUBARU WRX CONCEPT features a carbon-fiber roof to enhance the already low center of gravity and reduce weight.
Considerably lower, sleeker and wider, the SUBARU WRX CONCEPT delivers even more street presence than previous generations of WRX. The new grille design is larger and bolder and sets off the classic WRX hood scoop. A pronounced powerbulge provides clearance for the new turbocharged engine and intercooler. A prominent hexagonal grille form and deep lower valences with air intakes are designed to enhance aerodynamics, add downforce and aid engine cooling.
The three dimensional mesh pattern of the grille denotes the sporting nature of the SUBARU WRX CONCEPT and sets the Subaru star cluster apart, while the new hawk-eye headlights integrate the Subaru family design heritage.
A sharp character line runs from the front corner through to the taillights, intersected by the boldly flared wheel arches emphasizing the Subaru’s AWD system. The compact cabin greenhouse draws attention to the power and solidity of the body and focuses attention to wide stance that provides a visual link between body and chassis.
The rear design echoes the hexagonal design motif from the front grille and features a dramatically curved trunk lid that also acts as a rear spoiler. The distinctive wide rear bumper of the SUBARU WRX CONCEPT adds to the powerful street presence of the car and is off-set by large quad tailpipes denoting the powerful turbocharged engine. The aggressive rear diffuser improves vehicles aerodynamics.
The all-new SUBARU WRX CONCEPT features a new paint color, “WR Blue Pearl III”, which modernizes the iconic WRX look. Fluorescent Yellow is used as an accent on the WRX badge on the front grille, the brake calipers and the exhaust tip finishers, adding character notes to the design.
Filling out the broad fenders are BBS “RI-D” One Piece Forged Duralumin wheels and featuring 245/40ZR20 Dunlop tires with an exclusive tread pattern.
Key Dimensions (Overall Length x Width x Height): (178.0in x 74.4in x 54.7in ), Wheelbase: (108.7 in.)
About Subaru of America, Inc. Subaru of America, Inc. is a wholly owned subsidiary of Fuji Heavy Industries Ltd. of Japan. Headquartered in Cherry Hill, N.J., the company markets and distributes Subaru vehicles, parts and accessories through a network of more than 600 dealers across the United States. All Subaru products are manufactured in zero-landfill production plants and Subaru of Indiana Automotive Inc. is the only U.S. automobile production plant to be designated a backyard wildlife habitat by the National Wildlife Federation.
With a new Impreza already a year old, and the old STI still produced on the old Impreza platform, a new STI is well overdue.
The new Impreza is handsome, and is a considerable step up in interior design over the current car. Of course, WRX and STI owners don’t exactly care about that… the bigger question is the specifications of both future models. Or even IF the concept to be introduced in New York is an Impreza-based one at all. It could be a BRZ-based concept (after all, just what are those winged and big-brake BRZs driving around the Nurburgring?). We’ll know soon!
The following (silent) press video shows the 148 HP 2013 Impreza in action… add another 150+ HP and you have the heart and soul of the new STI.
Subaru Press Release follows:
SUBARU TO INTRODUCE FIRST-EVER PRODUCTION HYBRID MODEL AND NEW PERFORMANCE CONCEPT CAR AT 2013 NEW YORK INTERNATIONAL AUTO SHOW
Cherry Hill, N.J., - Subaru of America, Inc. today announced the brand’s first-ever production hybrid vehicle, the Subaru XV Crosstrek Hybrid, will debut at the 2013 New York International Auto Show at the Jacob K. Javits Center. Based on the popular XV Crosstrek crossover introduced for 2013, the new XV Crosstrek Hybrid model uses a Subaru engineered Hybrid system and Subaru’s Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive.
In addition to the new XV Crosstrek Hybrid, Subaru will also reveal an all-new performance concept car.
About Subaru of America, Inc. Subaru of America, Inc. is a wholly owned subsidiary of Fuji Heavy Industries Ltd. of Japan. Headquartered in Cherry Hill, N.J., the company markets and distributes Subaru Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive vehicles, parts and accessories through a network of more than 600 dealers across the United States. All Subaru products are manufactured in zero-landfill production plants and Subaru of Indiana Automotive Inc. is the only U.S. automobile production plant to be designated a backyard wildlife habitat by the National Wildlife Federation.
Friday the 16th of March heralded the start of a new beginning for the Japanese performance market. Welcome to the first production Toyota 86 and Subaru BRZ off the line!
The original Toyota “86″ and it’s derivatives spawned multiple generations of performance cars and created the Japanese Domestic Market (JDM) performance aftermarket industry. The 86 and similar cars started the evolutionary process that resulted in the best examples of the Celica and Supra from Toyota, the Z and the Skyline from Nissan, the NSX and S2000 from Honda, and the Evo and STI from Mitsubishi and Subaru. But the resulting ”golden age” of JDM performance cars peaked at a level of cost and impracticality that left many Japanese (and American) consumers behind and no longer addressed the needs of that market or the realities of a changing economy.
The 86 and BRZ rectify that situation and speak directly to a new generation of buyers. The Toyota 86 and Subaru BRZ are light, nimble, responsive and intelligent (in a way that American performance cars are inherently not). The new 86 and BRZ will lead the start of the rebirth of the JDM performance market.
- As a Miata and long-term S2000 owner, as well as the owning a Nissan Skyline V36 370GT (aka Infiniti G37S), we are eagerly anticipating our first drive in an 86/BRZ.
- We believe the 86/BRZ is a far better sportscar than the Miata, which even with the sport suspension has absurd amounts of body roll and brake dive. It’s just too soft and undeveloped in stock form. In our opinion, the Miata has faded and is far less than the sum of its parts. Mazda’s apparent direction of further reducing the size of the car and significantly reducing the size of the engine holds no appeal to us at all. Even the present 2 liter engine is underpowered, has poor mileage, and has almost zero distinction from it’s Ford cousin that used to power millions of Focuses. Face it, Mazda, the market is moving on. Add some length for space behind the seats, provide a tuned 2 liter Skyactive engine for the base car and the MazdaSpeed 2.3 for an option.
- The 86/BRZ addresses the impracticability of the S2000, with a hardtop, room behind the seats, and a larger trunk (of course it is missing the thrill of a 9000-RPM redline but it does appear to handle as well or better. More power will certainly come later). As much as we personally like those attributes of the S2000 (and isn’t it sad how far Honda has fallen with the cancellation of the S2000 replacement?), the great majority of buyers in today’s market will look for practicality and would buy the 86/BRZ as a daily driver (a practice which those of us with S2000s quickly abandoned long ago). We would have preferred that the 86/BRZ had a hatch but we do like the fact (and especially that Toyota reminds of us this in its literature) that 4 racing tires, a jack, and a toolbox will all fit inside.
- The only other Japanese car that comes close is the 370Z… but we are concerned about where this car fits in the market an dit is also much more expensive to buy and insure. Sales are extremely low – is continued investment guaranteed or will the car remain essentially a 2-seat G37? And what is it competing against? The Mustang GT (where it handily beat the 2010 GT with the 4.6 liter engine, but falls seriously behind the 2011 with the new 5 liter)? The Hyundai Genesis coupe (with its new 274 HP 4 cylinder turbo and 348 HP V-6 engine, is coming up fast from behind – although it doesn’t come close to the handling precision of the Z). Nissan can answer both these powertrain challenges with its upcoming 4 cylinder supercharged engine and continued refinement of the VQ37VHR engine (especially by adding Direct Injection). Are the market ready for a 4-cylinder Z? Or does Nissan want to compete against the Mustang by adding its own 5 liter engine (as found in the FX50) – practically a bolt-in operation since they share the same chassis? And why is anybody paying thousands of dollars extra for the IPL engine, which is nothing more than a slightly different exhaust and a programming change?
Lots of questions here; but without a doubt the next couple of years will be very interesting – to say the least. Kudos to Toyota and Subaru for setting the direction and establishing the momentum!
Availability of the new Subaru BRZ and Toyota 86 in Japan has just begun, and with them the first television commercials. Here Subaru gives us a peek at their values and at the heritage of the new BRZ:
Be sure to explore the new BRZ sites in Japan (in Japanese only):
- special introduction site: http://subaru-brz.jp/pc/
- Subaru ordering site: http://www.subaru.jp/brz/brz/
These sites are a bit slow across international lines, but are also an important read for anyone interested in this great new enthusiast car. The introduction site is full of photos and articles, including insider looks at the prototypes, interviews with the engineers, soundtracks, and even some hidden wallpaper to download for your PC.
You’ll also find some of the videos from these sites as well as Press videos on the Subaru Global Site on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/user/SubaruGlobalTV and SubaruOnTube: http://www.youtube.com/user/SUBARUOnTube. Here is the first driving impression from the Subaru BRZ special site:
Have you been putting off taking those Japanese language courses? Like any enthusiast of JDM performance cars, you’ll wish you’d started them years ago. We learned that lesson the hard way 16 years ago when we came across a Best Motoring video featuring a competitive face-off of GT-R and Supra TT JDM tuners. It was our first exposure to the JDM performance community and was just the start of our current library of hundreds of JDM enthusiast videos, books, and dealer brochures as well as ownership of just a tiny sample of the incredible range of Japanese enthusiast cars. Whether we’re bouncing off the 9300 RPM fuel cut-off of our S2000 or unleashing the full boost of our supercharged G37 (aka JDM Skyline), we continue to enjoy JDM performance.
Now, Subaru and Toyota, when can we get our hands on a Toyota 86 and Subaru BRZ for a first drive?
We’ve been saying all along that the new Toyota 86 (and it’s Subaru twin the BRZ) will lead to the rebirth of the performance car in the Japanese Domestic Market (JDM), as well as the revitalization of the JDM performance aftermarket. Bread and butter cars, cars which were designed to be affordable by the largest segment of the enthusiast market, are represented by the original AE86, pocket rockets such as the Mitsubishi Colt Turbo and the Nissan Pulsar GTI-R, and at the slightly higher end by the Silvia and Celica. These are all straightforward cars, built on pedestrian chassis, enhanced with heavy duty or AWD parts borrowed from other models in the lineup, and given a degree of factory tuning. Most importantly, they are straightforward and affordable and therefore provide an easy platform for modification by enthusiasts. And the sheer volume of cars like these enable the incredible JDM performance aftermarket. The 86 and BRZ are targeted directly at this market.
When you spend some time in Japan, follow their products thru Best Motoring videos, or see your first example of the famous Hyper Rev books, you’ll note that there aren’t just a few vendors providing parts – there are hundreds. Case in point: open Hyper Rev #46 for the S2000 and you’ll find an incredible catalog of hundreds of parts for the S2000 from a hundred different vendors. You can spend an entire weekend reading thru this book and you’ll find every possible modification from a dozen different camshafts to a couple of optimized rear subframes. In North America, you’ll find these sold by vendors such as More-Japan or HyperRevUSA. They are such interesting reading that you may buy one of them even if you don’t own the particular car (we have a dozen in our own library for cars we don’t own). The incredible breadth and enthusiasm these books exemplify is what the Japanese aftermarket is all about.
Be sure to stop by to the FT86club.com site for a complete set of images of the new Toyota FT-86 II concept being revealed at the Geneva show.
The concept is an update of the original FT-86 concept from 2009, clearly closer to production but still a concept. The wheels/tires/brakes are much larger as you’d expect on a concept, as are the carbon fiber details (front lips under the spoiler, side skirts). Those clearly won’t make it into production. The side vents just before the doors look tacked-on and are doubtful for production, as they should be. The concept’s 215/40-18 tires are a possibility, but as with all concepts the intent is to look intended to fill the wheel wells.
New is the side vent window, roof water channel, and detailing around the windows and doors that were”t present on the earlier concept. This tells us that we are seeing the production bodyshell. And, thanks to partner Subaru, we know the FT-86 II has a strut front suspension and a multi-link independent rear. The engine is a Subaru boxer 4 cylinder, resulting in an extremely low center of gravity.
We also can’t see the interior on the images the FT-86 Club has provided, other than the very top of what is clearly a new dashboard. Fortunately it’s only a matter of time until somebody gets close enough with a camera to grab the shots.
The FT-86 is a masterpiece in the making. The big questions now are the final specifications and production date. And if Toyota will offer “enough” power in an optional engine – power to match the promise of the chassis. And will North America be stuck with this as a Scion, rather than as a Toyota? We think the idea of naming this a Scion is just plain stupid but it appears to be the direction. How about dropping the Scion brand and going with a “One Toyota” approach? Why dilute the brand in North America?
Subaru also presented a concept, of sorts, at Geneva in the form of a clear-bodied version of it’s FT-86. And again the FT86club.com site has detailed images. Images from different angles are available, the suspension layout and engine are very clearly detailed. We know the engine is a flat boxer, updated with direct injection, and uses a suspension derived from Subaru production parts and shared with the Toyota version. What’s even more clear now is the phenomenally low center of gravity this chassis offers. It’s unprecedented, and there is nothing like it elsewhere in the world. The Subaru “concept” is also rear wheel drive, although AWD is referenced int he accompanying press materials. But that is where the story becomes less clear – whether Subaru is discussing their own credentials, or talking about some sort of future AWD version of this car. We do know form spy pictures that a turbocharged engine is coming, and if it’s like the ones available in other Subarus, then 300 HP would be easily achieved. It’s great to see that the chassis is up tot he task, too.
AutoWeek reports this morning that Subaru will show their version of the FT-86 at the Geneva show in March. This will be the first time the car has been shown, all prior viewings being only of very rough engineering mules.
It will be at least late 2011 before we will get a production version of either of these cars. This is exciting news for driving enthusiasts… with Mazda committed to low-power Miatas and with the S2000 out of production, a state-of-the art rear-wheel drive car with as much as 300 HP and direct-injected engines is much more than we could have hoped for!
See high-res images of the FT-86 concept in our gallery.
Travis Pastrana 2010 New Year’s Jump – 269 feet!