Subaru WRX Project Midnight makes an STI look tame

The racy Subaru WRX STI may be dead, but the company’s motorsports division has cooked up something even hotter – but you won’t find it in showrooms.

Unveiled overnight, Subaru Motorsports USA’s Project Midnight is a WRX-based monster with one goal: to be faster than any car with the Pleiades star cluster on its badge.

Inspired and influenced by previous Subaru specials such as the Airslayer WRX which was driven by Travis Pastrana in Gymkhana 2020, Project Midnight kicks things up a notch with even larger aerodynamic bodywork in exposed carbon fibre.

The new exterior means it tips the scales at “well under” 1120kg, a saving of more than 130kg compared to the Airslayer, and about 350kg lighter than the cheapest new WRX currently on sale in Australia.

While the Airslayer was a heavily adapted version of Subaru’s rallycross-ready WRX, the Project Midnight is fitted with a bespoke tarmac-focused suspension system, larger 18-inch OZ Racing magnesium wheels, and Yokohama Advan slick tyres.

Powering the WRX Project Midnight is a turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine, tuned to produce 500kW and 922Nm – considerably higher outputs than the standard WRX’s 202kW and 350Nm figures from its 2.4-litre flat-four.

It can be revved to a lofty 9500rpm.

Subaru and its North American motorsports partner Vermont SportsCar haven’t set any explicit goals for Project Midnight, though its appearance at this weekend’s Goodwood Festival of Speed in the UK previews their ambitions.

Former Formula One driver Scott Speed will pilot the WRX up the famed Goodwood hillclimb, most frequently visited by Travis Pastrana in 2021 with Airslayer, and then in 2022 and 2023 with the Subaru Family Huckster.

Given the new vehicle’s lower weight and more circuit-focused design than its predecessor, expect to see the Airslayer’s 46-second time up the course within reach.

Unfortunately there’s little chance we’ll see a Project Midnight-inspired version of the WRX in showrooms, as the demise of the previous-generation model led Subaru to effectively end development of combustion-powered vehicles within its Subaru Technica International (STI) division.

The STI nameplate was used on higher-performance versions of the already fast WRX throughout the late 1990s until the early 2020s.

MORE: Everything Subaru WRX

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