WRX celebration revving up

Expect to see a special WRX on sale in celebration of 2017 being the model’s 25th year.


KIWI celebration of 25 years of the legendary WRX will involve a “seriously cool” special edition car – but not the one just released in Japan.

“Yes, there is potential (for a special) but, no, we can’t have it,” is the response from Subaru New Zealand boss Wal Dumper in respect to the WRX S4 tS that went on sale in Japan several days ago.

A prolonged celebration of the marque’s most famous performance model, kicks off at the 2017 edition of the famous Leadfoot hillclimb at Hahei on February 4-5.

The effort will celebrate the past – the Auckland office having just begin a competition to track down the country’s best WRXs, with 25 winning cars and their owners being hosted by the brand at Rod Millen’s ranch for the hillclimb weekend – and also the future, with some special product planned for introduction, Dumper says.

“We have some limited editions coming - some produced locally (colours and accessories) then later in the year some special production units,” he says.

“The car we will offer is respectfully cool,” Dumper asserts.

“We will update you once it’s sorted. Until then it’s a WRX news blackout, sorry.”

Built to honour Subaru’s victory in the SP3T class at the 2015 and 2016 Nurburgring 24-hour race, the tS is out of the Subaru Technica International skunkworks and will be a limited edition though it will remain in product until next March.

However, the maker is firmly resolved that it will only be sold in Japan, a disappointment for Dumper as he viewed it as a tasty choice for this market.

 “Subaru Japan … can’t, won’t and didn’t offer us any. We were disappointed as that’s what we wanted to offer as our first 25-year car at Leadfoot.”

The tS is essentially an S207 STi model with an enhanced specification, including becoming the first WRX to adopt the brand’s EyeSight driver assist technology, and a bit of extra fizz

STI says its engineers have tweak the engine to boost torque by 10 percent thanks to a modified air intake/exhaust parts, while an added oil cooler improves cooling performance of the Sport Lineartronic transmission. Yes, that’s the CVT. No manual transmission is offered.

STI said it has improved handling of the WRX S4 tS by adding a flexible tower bar, DampMatic II front suspension with adjustable damping, and front-rear Active Torque Vectoring. Braking performance has also been enhanced with Brembo opposed-piston four-pot brakes at the front, standard-fit brakes continue at the back.

The version also stands out with STI-designed BBS 19-inch forged aluminum wheels, cherry red pinstripe on the mesh-type front grille and rear bumper, large front under-spoiler, black roof antenna (shark fin type), while the interior features STI-spec Recaro front bucket seats and an “exclusively-made luminescent speedometer”.

Meantime, Subaru NZ says WRX owners keen to enter its effort to locate the best examples of the model resident here need do nothing more than upload an image of their cars, along with some information about what makes their pride and joy so special, to www.subaru.co.nz/wrx25.

The distributor is also urging owners to share their entries on social media with the hashtag #wrx25nz and get friends and family to vote. That’s important because the cumulative public vote weighs equally with the views of three Subaru-appointed judges – Dumper, Millen and 2015 national rally champion Ben Hunt, also a Subaru ambassador.

All 25 chosen winners will be hosted by Subaru at Leadfoot, with their cars being displayed, and five will also be chosen on the day to drive their cars up the incredible 1.6km driveway racing circuit that leads to Millen’s oceanfront ranch.

Subaru’s other involvement with a unique annual motorsport event set to involve 100 competitors is to provide the official pace cars on event.

Millen says he is looking forward to seeing the Subaru WRX competition come to fruition.

"I am really excited that Subaru has chosen the Leadfoot Festival to celebrate 25 years of the WRX. During my career I competed against many famous WRX drivers … Possum Bourne, Colin McRae, Richard Burns and Markku Alen to name a few.  The WRX always proved to be a tough competitor. I’m honoured to share this celebration with Subaru,” he says.

Dumper is excited about the competition’s potential to reveal a variety of WRXs.

“Obviously the partnership we have formed with Leadfoot will attract a strong interest from those ‘Subaru-ists’ who enjoy a bit of high octane. But we are also looking for owners of WRX models that may not be a ‘petrol-head’ but have a truly original car at home.

“There have been literally thousands of WRX models sold to Kiwis who love to drive. This 25-year celebration should also help uncover some of those ‘gems’ in garages that are pristine and are enjoyed as completely original examples,” he says.