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According to a recent report by Car & Driver, the 2011 Subaru Impreza WRX STI sedan is three years late to the party for a number of reasons. Initially, Subaru decided to focus its efforts on the hatchback body style for the current generation STI because of advantages this body shape would provide their WRC rally cars (eg. shorter rear overhang, making it easier to slide sidways through tight spaces).
When Subaru abruptly ended its factory-backed WRC program in 2008, dealerships were left with a 5-door hatchback body style that wasn’t able to win buyers with a link to the car’s appearance in the WRC. This opened the door for Subaru to begin developing a 4-door sedan version, a body shape STI buyers have long associated with this ultimate Subaru thanks to the WRC success of drivers like Colin McRae, Richard Burns and Peter Solberg. We’ve always loved hot hatches, but we have to admit that the STI just looks “right” with a sedan trunk and a big obnoxious wing mounted on it.
Returning to the sedan body style offers more than just improved looks though. Subaru claims the sedan has 5 percent less drag than the hatchback, allowing it to reach a higher top speed. Subaru says the sedan should be marginally lighter than the hatch, too.
Interestingly, Subaru hired 4-time WRC Champion Tommi Makinen to test drive the new STI sedan around the Nurburgring, despite his championships all coming with rival Mitsubishi. Nevertheless, the combination of a rally racing legend and the new STI sedan made for the fastest Ring lap time ever recorded by a factory-stock STI. For a little history on the STI’s development at the Ring and an in-depth look at the new STI sedan, check out the video after the jump.
GALLERY: 2011 Subaru WRX STI Sedan Nurburgring Record
[Source: Car & Driver]