Last week, motorsport engineering company Prodrive teased a logo for a new model in an unmistakable silhouette — that of the first-generation WRX STI, the two-door that was never actually imported to the U.S. Now, Prodrive confirms what we mostly suspected: the P25 is a restomod taking inspiration from the homologation-special 22B-STI and the GC Impreza World Rally Car that Prodrive built for Subaru’s factory team between 1997 and 2000. Just 25 of these modern 22Bs will be built, and we’ll get to see the first example in the flesh at the Goodwood Festival of Speed next month.
This is a big deal for Impreza and rallying fans who worship this car. About this time last year, one 22B went for more than $300,000 on Bring a Trailer. And while, yes, I enjoy pelting the low-hanging fruit that is BaT on many an occasion, that one was totally justifiable. I get it.
As David Zalstein wrote a few years back in his phenomenal piece on the 22B, that car was very much the apex of the original Impreza WRX with its flared arches, larger engine and a laundry list of other improvements underneath. As Zalstein explains:
Its short-ratio five-speed manual transmission with hardened gears and lightweight twin-plate competition clutch; its uprated driveshafts and suspension bushes; its forged aluminium lower control arms, rose-jointed suspension links, inverted Bilstein shock absorbers, and Eibach springs; and its monster adjustable rear wing—the tallest ever fitted to a production Impreza to that point, and taller still than those fitted to the back of era-specific WRC cars.
So, yeah — there’s plenty that made the 22B special, and Prodrive will look to recapture that magic with the P25. While we don’t have a ton of details yet, the company has stated that its modern interpretation will feature a 2.5-liter boxer producing “in excess of” 400 horsepower. The five-speed manual will be exchanged for a six-speed paddle shift gearbox, and carbon fiber will be extensively employed in the chassis to keep things light.
We can glean clues about the P25's exterior from the singular sketch (shown at the top of this article) that Prodrive provided alongside its press release. Those flared fenders are back, as are the WRC-inspired fog lights. The side mirrors have been swapped out for slimmer pods that evoke what was commonly used on rally cars of the day, and if you look closely you’ll notice Prodrive center caps on those gunmetal, tarmac rally-inspired rims. Interestingly, the Subaru badge is still present in the grille, which hasn’t been the case with some of those unofficial “new” Mk2 Escorts we’ve seen in the last few years.
Which brings us to a pertinent question: will each P25 be completed using an existing Impreza as a base, or is Prodrive truly building these cars from scratch? The release doesn’t indicate one way or the other. I’d be inclined to assume the former, considering 1) this is too small a run of vehicles to justify a ground-up process and 2) if the company was actually going to such lengths, you’d best believe it’d be shouting about it. Still, assumptions aren’t answers, and so I’ve reached out to Prodrive for a little clarification on that front.
In the meantime, let’s rejoice that the best Impreza is not only returning, but being brought back by some of the minds who made it a legend a quarter-century ago, like technical director David Lapworth and designer Peter Stevens. That’s a fitting tribute to a rallying icon that deserves one.