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Subaru Impreza WRX Group N in track test at WRC level

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Subaru Impreza WRX group N in track test
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How was that again? Depress the clutch and press the button until the gearshift indicator flickers. First course? Is in. The engine screeches choppily at 5,500 tours. Then let the clutch fly and full throttle. Where a Subaru Impreza was just parked, there is only a cloud of dust.

Admittedly, an automatic starter is not the most urgent extra an amateur driver needs. But firstly it is fun to catapult yourself into the landscape like in a World Rally Car, and secondly it helps to save a few seconds with perfect starts. The air has become thin even below the league of the factory teams.

Super 2000 cars are uncompromising small series racers

D he Group N devices have always been intended as the bread-and-butter car of the wealthy gentleman driver. But on the one hand, in view of the starving Junior World Championship, more and more young talents to be taken seriously cavort in the production car world championship, which is located under the WRC, and on the other hand, the turbo all-wheel-drive vehicles had to compete with the super Fight 2000 cars. This allowed the motorsport sovereignty FIA to compete in the same category as the near-series cars to increase the variety of brands. The Super 2000 lacks torque due to the lack of charging, but they are otherwise uncompromising small-series racers and easily weigh 150 kilograms less.

The Group N engineer has to take what he gets - that meant another 20 kilos more when switching from the previous Subaru model N12 to the hatchback N14. In the first version, the group-N-Impreza was overweight. The same also applies to the Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X, which is why the top people in the PWRC tended to fall back on the Evo IX, which had long been discarded in the series and with which the Portuguese Armindo Araujo also won the title. The competitive pressure is not only great between the manufacturers, but also internally there is a diligent arms race at Subaru. The trust of the Japanese in the Prodrive factory team in Banbury, England, was disrupted after failures at the World Rally Cars, the development contract for the current Group N car was awarded to three applicants for the first time - in addition to Prodrive, the Austrian Manfred Stohl and the four-time rally world champion Tommi Mäkinen. This initially made business difficult for Prodrive, but in the opinion of the Subaru sports department STI it had the advantage that the bestIdeas from all three teams could flow into the development.

Prodrive is the most successful Impreza seller

With 62 cars sold and two wins this season in the PWRC, Prodrive is still the most successful Impreza seller. The title for the Barwa team and its driver Nasser Al Attiyah would have been within reach, but the man from Qatar was stripped of a second place in Greece due to an underweight flywheel on the crankshaft - expensive eight points for 150 grams of weight saving.

The boxer engine has always been considered a weak point in the Impreza, 'or have you ever seen a Subaru win on tarmac?' asks the German vice-champion Sandro Wallenwein, who moved to Subaru in 2008 after many years at Mitsubishi. Another problem was that Subaru customers often couldn't get the official 270 hp because the two-liter four-cylinder constantly tended to overheat on hot days, which the electronics immediately acknowledged with a reduction in the ignition point and the loss of 20 hp . In addition, dropouts often slowed down the drivers because some teams were unable to cope with adapting their control units.

The boxer engine has been significantly improved compared to its predecessor

The consequence with Prodrive was tight detention. 'I worked on the engine for three months,' says engineer Andy Williams. The result: variable outlet valves ensure better gas throughput, the turbo impeller is mounted on rollers with less friction. Thanks to new injectors, the injection now reacts to commands from the electronic accelerator pedal after 15 instead of 50 milliseconds. Compared to its predecessor, the boxer not only has more torque, it also revs up more willingly than before. Subaru officially states 580 Newton meters. But as with the performance, which is more likely to be 280 hp, the torque is also more likely to be stacked around 70 Newton meters deep.

One of the most significant changes to the Impreza engine hangs behind the passenger seat on the roll cage: A plastic tank that holds twelve liters of water. It supplies the sprinkler system for the charge air cooler. The consumption is four liters per 30 WP kilometers, the effect is an additional 25 HP more than before in hot outside temperatures thanks to the cooler and more oxygen-rich combustion air. Another boost of around 20 hp will be provided by the air mass limiter, which will be enlarged to 33 millimeters in future, a concession by the FIA ​​in the fight against the S2000 faction. At least in the PWRC, however, according to the latest decision by the regulators, this will no longer happen. The Super 2000 will have their own series, the Group N cars will be among themselves again in the 2010 production car field. There is no lack of power, at least on gravel, even with the small restrictor.

Minimum weight is 1,380 kilograms

After the hairpin on the gravel exercise coursenext to the English airfield Turweston the Impreza marches forward with force. It also helped that, thanks to a lighter cage and, above all, a carbon fiber underbody, the weight could be reduced by 45 kilograms. The minimum weight is still 1,380 kilos. You can't tell from the Impreza. A near-series all-wheel drive has never been so agile. The five-way electronically adjustable center differential reacts even more precisely since it is based on the exact brake pressure instead of the pedal position.Improved front axle kinematics allow the WRX to change direction surprisingly quickly, the longer wheelbase, the 20 millimeter wider track compared to its predecessor and the new multi-link -But rear axles let him change direction much more stable. In order to improve driving behavior, the engineers even forego part of the suspension travel.

If the N12 tended to overreact with the notchback, the N2009 wagged through the tire stacks of the test track like a slalom world champion. The new one is three tenths of a second faster per kilometer. Drifting is so easy that the novice at the wheel tends to exaggerate. Only in the hairpin bend does the Impreza all too often dig understeer through the loose gravel. Because the man at the wheel has to get used to the fact that the hydraulic handbrake lever is still in front of the gear knob. If the grip on the straight-toothed five-speed gearbox is finally found, the wrong gear is sometimes engaged. Instead of the second, the first course would be more popular. The Impreza has its maximum torque between 3,500 and 5,200 tours.

In order to save the track tester's honor, it should be mentioned that the young professional Andreas Mikkelsen also had trouble with the annoying turn. 'At a certain speed you have too little power. I would like a slightly wider speed range,' says the Norwegian. In order to save the Subaru's honor, however, it must be said that longtime test driver Terry Kaby had no difficulty in keeping the car going. But the Briton, who can no longer even remember the name of the first Group N Subaru he taught to run, admits: 'You have to get used to the car.'

The Impreza WRX costs around 138,000 euros

Beginners can easily get used to the wonderful traction of the all-wheel drive and the fantastic handling for a 1.4 ton truck. Anyone who wanted so much driving fun had to invest 400,000 euros in a World Rally Car or at least 265,000 euros for a Super 2000. At around 138,000 euros, the Impreza WRX is almost a bargain. However, the part-time tester from the sport auto editorial team caused a slight decrease in value. There must have been a couple of stacks of tires on the ideal line. The once white flanks of the car are marred by black rubber straps. They're not mine, are they? The mechanic pulls outunmoved cloth and cleaning agent and says: '' Well, if your story is any good, we don't mind. '

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