Rally – Subaru to Return?

Rumors and reports have surfaced that show Subaru may be keen to return home in the WRC. The Japanese rally icon has been absent for the last few years after the economic downturn forced many companies to halt motorsport operations to ensure financial security. Subaru was one such brand that chose to withdraw its machine due to what some called financial issues and what others called lack of competitiveness. It is no secret that Subaru looked really really bad towards the end of their time in WRC. However, now it looks as though the soon to be revamped WRX is being specifically built to rally spec and reports have the brand looking to return to top level competition.

It all starts on the road car side however. The WRX has been a premium model of the Impreza for some time now. Motortrend.com is reporting that the next model of the WRX will in fact be its own stand alone car. That means that many of the pieces and parts will be unique and built for the WRX alone. The article further says that a “source” within Subaru has told them the WRX will be built to win motorsports events. It does not go into specific details on what those events are, but one can safely assume that rally will be the primary focus.

One of the reasons Subaru has not rejoined with the WRC is the car specifications. With the new S2000 1.6 litre turbo formula, Subaru cannot compete. No car in the current Subaru lineup is close to those specifications and is the reason they have been producing the R4 rally car for the IRC. The R4 car allows for a larger turbo charged car to compete with the S2000 models. To this point it has not even been a competition. The R4 cars cannot compete with the S2000 naturally aspirated machines given how maneuverable the smaller car is. Reports show that Subaru looks to be shortening the wheel base of the car to comply with S2000 regulations. This will allow for more aggressive cornering and is the first piece in the WRC formula.

The power plant is set to in fact be the 1.6 litre turbo engine that will produce 270hp. By adopting the 1.6 litre boxer engine, the car now would be in the ball park of returning to the WRC. The reports at the moment are targeting 2014 as a potential comeback year for the Japanese marque. The WRC needs Subaru and to be honest, Subaru needs the WRC. Much in the same vein as Ferrari and F1, fans show up and support rally in large part because of Subaru. The manufacturer is still represented at nearly level of rally and the STi is the most rally car of recent times still today.

While this is simply speculation and no announcement is even in the works at the moment, Subaru indicated when they left the sport years ago that a return could happen. If the speculation is to be believed, it would seem the company is posturing for that return in the near future. A Subaru return would be a massive victory for rally and would bring five manufactures to rally’s top flight.

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4 Thoughts to “Rally – Subaru to Return?

  1. If they were going to make a return, they’d want to do it right. No sense returning if there haven’t been any improvements. They’d have to come back with a bang.

  2. Dan,

    First off, thanks for stopping by and commenting! Welcome to the site!

    I agree 100% with you. The way that Subaru left was rather bad for them. While many people said it was financially related, I firmly believe that performance was a driving force. The Prodrive outfit and Subaru just fell apart.

    I speculate that this time around (provided it happens) it will be a factory effort. There will be no Prodrive like company in the equation. At the moment, I would say a partnership between Subaru and Toyota could happen and the Cologne base would be Subie’s rally home in Europe.

    They understand the need to get it right and I think they are very capable of coming in and doing well. May be tough to take on the VW empire though. That team is not messing about at all. They want in and they are coming for Ford and Citroen blood!

  3. You have some interesting thoughts regarding Toyota and Subaru. Throw another item in for consideration though. Toyota and Subaru are working on some joint FT-86 “toyobaru” RWD sportscar that they are working on together. Yeah, it is RWD so no, its not a rally car. But the fact that toyota and subaru are sharing the SIA facility in Lafayette and working on this joint program lends credence to the idea that they might be working together on other things.

  4. Good point Mike. The FT86 thing is reported to be a platform for something like touring car or GT. Still murky but gaining speed.

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