Making a car is expensive, and nobody would want go through the process of building an entire working automobile if they’re not thinking of putting it on sale. And yet here is (or isn’t) the Prodrive P2, an all-wheel drive monster that never even was meant to be bought.
The P2 made itself known to the world on Top Gear back in 2006, when it got Jeremy Clarkson to puke. Admittedly, this is probably a lower bar than anyone ever expects. I’m sure if you withhold cigarettes from him for several long minutes and then wave a beach towel at him, he’d puke. But that’s not the point.
What was interesting was that the P2 was a two-seater sports car project from the brains behind Subaru’s World Rally Championship golden years.
As such it got a 345 horsepower flat four Impreza engine with all of the tech that you’d find in a contemporary WRC car, as Prodrive explained at the time:
ALS has been derived from the same system found on the Prodrive-designed Subaru World Rally Car, but modified for use on the road. ALS can keep the turbo on full boost at low engine speeds, giving the car immediate throttle response and improved performance by using more of the engine’s torque throughout the rev range.
Our ATD™ system uses active centre and rear differentials to control the torque split between the front and rear of the car and across the rear axle to optimise the car’s handling characteristics by helping to correct over or understeer.
The problem was that the car was only ever a technology demonstrator, meant to show off how the car could spin itself in circles and do good anti-lag bangs. Prodrive conceded it could theoretically get the car into production if another company did the actual production work, but the main goal was “to create something that used the skills of every part of the business and demonstrated the company’s capabilities.”
Maybe I should never have been hopeful at all. Maybe I was just swept up in the last gasps of optimism before the Recession and my friends’ dads all started losing their jobs.
But man, I wish there was more to this thing, and that it might have become some sort of super BRZ before the BRZ was a glimmer in anyone’s eye. The platform itself was a Subaru R1 kei car. It was doable, it just never got done. If there might have been any hope of a revival at some point early on, I’m sure the recession in ‘08 quashed it.
It’s been a good dozen years now since I was first let down by the P2. Am I still mad? Yes.