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Auto blogFri, 21 Mar 2014 13:28:00 EST
The Subaru WRX has always needed a dash more style, and the do-it-yourself carmakers at Factory Five are looking to accomplish a lot more than that with their new mid-engine, rear-wheel drive 818. The sports car started with a contest in 2011 to create the shape for the company's next vehicle, while sticking within certain limits. A designer named Nouphone Bansasi had his entry chosen, and first cars were completed last year.
The 818 is named after its target weight of 818 kilograms (1,803 pounds), and it's offered in two forms. The S starts at $9,990 and is meant for street use, with two seats and a basic interior. The R model for $10,990 is more track-focused and features a tiny windshield and full roll cage. The company claims that complete cars can be built for around $15,000, after factoring in the donor Subaru. Performance is very brisk, with acceleration to 60 miles per hour in under four seconds, according to Motor Authority.
The kits are meant to be something that even a relative novice could put together. All the builder needs to provide is a 2002-2007 Impreza or WRX. The car donates its turbocharged boxer four-cylinder engine, transmission, axles, brakes, steering and other major components. Factory Five supplies the spaceframe, body, suspension, lights, windshield and some interior trim. It doesn't even need paint, thanks to its gel-coated fiberglass body panels. The company also offers a laundry list of options, including carbon fiber aero components, upgraded suspension parts, improved brakes and more. Kits can be ordered in either left- or right-hand drive.
Earlier this week, we got all hot and bothered over a set of spy photos showing the next-generation Subaru WRX STI testing at the Nürburgring. And while pretty still shots of a camouflaged car are always nice to look at, stirring up lots of speculation, having video is even better. Good thing, then, that our trusty spies were on hand to get some rolling footage of that STI as it lapped the infamous German track.
Now, as a good majority of the comments on our previous post will point out, it looks like Subaru has dumbed down the design of that decidedly hot WRX Concept from New York for the road-going car. Of course, we need to wait until all that swirly paper is pulled off the body, but from what we can see here, it looks like this new 'Rex will be more akin to the current Impreza than we were originally led to believe.
So while we wait and hope that what's under the camouflage will be something sexy, have a look at the video below to watch the WRX STI prototype get worked out on the 'Ring.
"As far as street-legal rally cars go, there's still nothing better than a WRX." I wrote that line following my first drive of the 2015 Subaru WRX late last year - one of the better motoring experiences I had in 2013. Sure, a particularly involving drive route helped, but I don't want to sell the new Subaru short: it's a seriously good car - easily one of the sharpest, best-driving little turbos available today.
When I drove the even hotter 2015 WRX STI in January, it was a similar love-fest. The STI is infused with all of the WRX's greatness, but it's sharper, meaner, and on good roads (and race tracks), the winged wonder is really outstanding. But because of its higher price tag, less forgiving suspension tuning, and only marginal performance increases, I'm convinced that the STI isn't the best WRX for the money. And much as I love it, I just don't think I'd ever buy the STI over its more sedate sister (though I totally understand why others might).
So when it came time to add a new long-term car to the Autoblog fleet, many votes were cast in favor of the WRX. There was a lot of debate about whether or not to get the standard version, or the mightier STI. But at the end of the day, my argument that the basic WRX is the better daily driver - nee, one of the best all-around, all-weather performers money can buy - carried the day.