If you’re looking for a reasonably inexpensive car that’s going to give you optimal performance and that’s also capable of handling all sorts of terrain and conditions, you’ll eventually land on the Subaru WRX STi being at least one of the top three options. It’s more or less a rally car. It has 305hp coming from the 2.5L four-cylinder and a 6-speed manual with torque vectoring and limited slip differentials with Subaru’s proven all-wheel drive system. All of which you can get for under $40,000. But what’s even more enticing about the car is what it can become, and this special edition WRX STi Type RA NBR is the culmination of Subaru performance and it’s ready to take the automotive world by storm.
You’ve seen this particular STi before because it happens to be the car that Mark Higgins used to set the Isle of Man TT record last year. Yet the car you see here is far more advanced than when it set that record. After the event, Subaru had the car shipped back to Prodrive, the masterminds responsible for setting the car up to that point and had them tear it down and rebuild it to the best of their abilities. The end result is the angriest, nastiest, and most badass STi imaginable and they call it the WRX STi Type RA NBR.
When Higgins set the TT record, this car was already a beast. With 600hp on tap, there was definitely no shortage of power. And this new version follows the same trend, no additional horsepower was really needed. So instead Prodrive focused on getting that power to the ground and what they came up with is flat out brilliant. They’re using an adjustable wing similar to what you see on a Bugatti or McLaren P1. But this one is different in the sense that rather than a computer determining what angle the wing should be, it’s up to the driver.
Higgins specifically requested that he have access to control the wing from inside the car while at speed. So that’s exactly what they gave him. He now has a button that will change the wing back and forth between its two positions whenever he desires. At the touch of a button, he can move the wing 14 degrees up or down, and it’ll change in two-tenths of a second (20 milliseconds). That means when he’s barreling into a corner he touches and button, faster than a blink of an eye the backend has additional downforce to keep him from sliding out. The opposite applies if for example he’s coming out of a turn into a long straightaway, boom he touches a button to lift the wing up and suddenly you’ve significantly reduced the drag and now your slicing through the air like a hot knife through butter. I believe a similar concept is used on the Huracan Performante, only it’s adjusted automatically by the car’s computer versus having the driver at the controls. Needless to say, when you combine that with the new splitter and diffuser and a monstrously powerful engine with a lightning fast 6 speeds transmission and super wide and sticky tires, this thing has some very serious potential.
The plan was to use this new strung out STi to make a run at the Nurburgring record and when it was finished it definitely looked and acted like it was more than capable. However as luck would have it, the Ring was pummeled with rain for days on end and by doing so completely ruined the chance of making an attempt at the record at that time. So really the new and improved Type RA NBR hasn’t had a chance to show the world what it’s capable of, yet. That changed recently at the Goodwood Festival of Speed when the legendary driver, Mark Higgins, was finally able to let the old girl stretch its legs and I don’t think there’s any question this car is the real deal.
Higgins and team Subaru entered the WRX STI Type RA NBR into the timed shootout to see how it stacked up against the best in the world. Even though it technically started life as a stock STi, it’s far beyond that at this point, so they entered it in the race car division where literally the fastest cars in the world compete. And even though it was technically the cars first outing in its current form, Higgins still managed to pull off a very respectable third place with a time of 48.25 seconds. Which as a comparison, is almost three seconds faster than the winner of the street legal supercar shootout.
The only cars that bested the pissed off little rally car is a Jaguar XJR12D, which is a 730hp LMP1 car that won the 1990 24hr of Le Mans and also took home the top spot in the shootout with a time of 46.13 seconds. In second place it was the Penske-Chevrolet PC22 Indy car that dominated the 1993 season at the hands of legendary drivers Paul Tracy and Emerson Fittipaldi. There were at least 20 other cars that range from CART racers, Cup Racers, GT4’s, and even the Mahindra M4Electro Formula E car that fell short against Higgins in his trusty old Subaru. All things considered, third place is a phenomenal achievement with the caliber of cars it was up against.
I foresee a bright future for this badass blue Subaru. I think it might be able to give the Lamborghini Huracan Performante a run for its money at the ring. Although even if it does, it’ll fall into that grey area where it’s debatable whether its a production car or not, similar to what the P1 LM experienced when it dominated the lap record. Bottom line, this all-new WRX STI Type RA NBR appears to be a monster lurking in the shadows with its sights set on lap records all over the world. Keep your eye on this car, I don’t think we’ve heard the last of it.
I’ve included a video of the run at Goodwood, as well as some behind the scenes tech talk that’ll give you a bit more insight into what makes the car so incredible.