Why Subaru fans have reason to cheer ahead of Safari Rally

Colin McRae

Colin McRae drives his Subaru Impreza car from at Kenyatta International Convention Centre where President Daniel Arap Moi flagged off cars competing in the 1996 World Rally Championship Safari Rally on April 5, 1996.


Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • They populate the parking lots of all WRC events. Here in Kenya the Subarus never separate boy racers from their beloved machines.
  • But you will hardly see the two-door 22B, a model snapped by pre-qualified customers locally.

Subaru boys can now have something to smile about again more than a decade since their beloved Impreza STi lost its mojo after Subaru pulled out of the FIA World Rally Championship.

The creator of their beloved machine, Dave Richards, has returned from hibernation in the heavens of automotive paradise riding on, yes you guessed it, a reincarnation of the much-beloved Subaru Impreza World Rally Car replica 25 years later since he produced the much-sought- after marquee in the Impreza household family, the rare 22B STi.

Prodrive, the Banbury-based tuning company in UK that was tasked to manage the Subaru World Rally Team between 1990-2008 from Subaru factory in Japan will reintroduce the look-alike 22B, the most iconic Impreza of all time next month at the Goodwood Festival of Speed in the UK, codenamed P25. The bespoke car will cost Sh70 million, and only 25 will be made.

Lightweight chasis

The P25 Impreza is a mean machine made of lightweight carbon fibre components with a 2.5-litre boxer engine mated to a six-speed semi-automatic gearbox and lightweight chassis developing in excess of 400bhp, and classified 0-100kph, Prodrive said in a statement.

Prodrive says Peter Stevens – the man who styled the original Impreza WRC – has remodelled an updated design. Technical director David Lapworth is looking after the engineering.

“It’ll be more powerful, lighter and with better handling” than the original 90s icons, with a 2.5-litre flat-four boxer engine making over 400bhp. That’ll be connected to a six-speed semi-automatic paddle-shift gearbox and the chassis will use bundles of carbon fibre to keep weight to a minimum,” said Prodive boss Dave Richards.

The sad news is just like the 22B, no Subaru boy, moneyed as he might be, is likely to get hold of the P25 in Naivasha during the Safari, now or in future, just as it was with big brother 22B, now a collector’s item of which one car sold for Sh49 million at an auction in the United States last year, reputedly the most expensive 22B ever sold.

One similar to ex-Colin McRae’s car fetched Sh48 million in 2017.

No images available

There are no images of the car apart from graphic drawings from Prodrive. They show the same bodywork though wider, and better curved with the ever-present massive rear spoiler standing out as usual.

The project has been actualised by Prodrive engineers.

“We've been working on the development of this car for more than 12 months already. It is bespoke: the engine, gearbox, drive train and suspension have all been developed specifically for the P25 using the latest technology,” a Prodive spokesperson told topgear.com.

In 1997 the FIA relaxed rules to allow manufacturers to deviate from the norm by making cars which were stand-alone by introducing the World Rally Car, whose name recently changed to R1.

Richards told his team then that he wanted them to design a car which looked like it was doing 180kph at standstill.

The Impreza, especially the 22B of which only 400 were ever made was manufactured to celebrate SWRT constructors’ world title the same year.

They went further by adding the sky blue body colour, and gold painted spooky rims. Added to the yellow livery side panels, wrapping the abbreviations SWRT (Subaru World Rally Team), and an icon was born.

The late Colin McRae won the Safari title in 1997 aboard the two-door Subaru Impreza.

Today Subaru enjoys a near cult following worldwide. They populate the parking lots of all WRC events. Here in Kenya the Subarus never separate boy racers from their beloved machines.

But you will hardly see the two-door 22B, a model snapped by pre-qualified customers locally.

Well, Prodrive bosses decided to celebrate the Silver Jubilee of the 22B in a very special way
DNation bodytext: Richards said in a statement: “The original 22B Impreza is considered the most iconic of Subarus and highly sought after. We wanted to enhance everything that made that car so special by applying the very latest technology to create our own modern interpretation of a car that’s established a place in motoring history.”

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