Nurburg, Germany - Subaru’s WRX STI Type RA NBR Special has set a new official lap record for a four-door sedan on the infamous Nordschleife at the Nurburgring of 6m57.5s.

Granted, the NBR Special is not your standard, off-the shelf Scoobie, but then a sub-seven minute ‘Ring run is not your standard, off the shelf performance for a two-litre sports sedan - even one with all-wheel drive. To put it in perspective, that’s the same time as was set by Porsche’s 918 Spyder supercar.

The NBR Special is a one-off ‘time attack’ car, designed and built by rally specialist Prodrive specifically to set records on the Isle of Man TT course, the Goodwood Festival of Speed hill climb (where it was third fastest overall) and now the Nordschleife.

It’s based on stock 2017 WRX STI body shell - but that’s where all similarity to the road car ends. There’s a full roll cage welded inside the shell for extra stiffness, and a modified two-litre World Rally Champion-spec turbopetrol boxer four under the bonnet, fed by a 75mm intake and 1.7 bar of boost to deliver ‘more than 440kW’ at 8500rpm.

It drives all four wheels via a six-speed WRC sequential WRC gearbox with an automatic clutch and hydraulics modified for paddle-shift operation, giving it some of the fastest shift times in the business. Prodrive quotes an upshift time of 20-25 milliseconds; downshifts are, of course, slowed by the hesitation built into every paddle-shift transmission.

All of which reaches the road through 205mm Dunlop Sportmaxx slicks on 19 inch lightweight Speedline rims, helped by a maximum of 295kg of downforce, provided by a new aero kit featuring an electro-hydraulically driver-adjustable rear wing. On the gearing used for the ‘Ring run, Prodrive calculates a theoretical top speed of 286km/h, right on the power peak at 8500rpm.

One for you - maybe

While you will never be able to buy an NBR Special, Subaru is unashamedly using its astonishing performance to promote the limited-edition WRX STI Type RA, of which just 500 will be made for sale worldwide.

RA stands for Record Attempt, a Subaru designation for exceptional high-performance derivatives that goes back to a world endurance record of 99 000km in 18 days, with a top speed of 221km/h, set by a very special Legacy way back in 1989.

The latest RA has a 2.5-litre turbopetrol boxer four with uprated cold air intake, high-flow exhaust, stronger pistons and a remapped ECU, all of which increases its power output from the standard 221 to 228kW, mated to an upgraded six-speed manual gearbox with a short-throw shifter and revised third-gear ratio.

Suspension is by inverted front struts and double rear wishbones, with Bilstein dampers and Brembo brakes all round, behind lightweight 19 inch BBS forged-alloy rims shod with 245/35 Yokohama Advan Sports radials.

Lightness is added by a carbon-fibre roof panels, a carbon-fibre rear pedestal wing and an empty space where the spare wheel should be. Inside, you’ll find signature red stitching and accent trim throughout the cabin, as well as on the Recaro sports front seats and ultrasuede-covered steering wheel.

No decision has been made yet as to whether any of the 500 RAs will be coming to South Africa, but the word from Subaru SA is that it’s ‘unlikely’. Should that change, you’ll know as soon as we do.

The video of the record 'Ring lap isn't out yet; to whet your appetite, here's Mark Higgins going up the Goodwood Hillclimb in 48.25s.


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