The Subaru WRX STI was only officially released to the public a few days ago at the Tokyo Motor Show, but details of the new WRX STI Group N rally car are already out. The new STI Group N will battle its archrival, the Mitsubishi Lancer Evoultion X Group N rally car revealed earlier this month, in the FIA’s production car-based Group N rally series. Both cars are all-new for this year, and both are believed to be significant upgrades over the outgoing models. The 2008 Group N season will be a true test of their real ability, and given each camp’s enthusiastic fan base, it’s sure to be a heated one as well. Read on for details and specs on Subaru’s contender for the Group N throne.

Although the new Impreza and WRX have met with some derision for their rather bland and bloated looks, the WRX STI has enough differences to make it a much more attractive car. Dress it up in Group N trim and paint it with Subaru’s rally colors and it’s downright hot. Subaru’s newest rally version of its production STI is now finalized for FIA specifications and will be sold to race teams if they receive approval for their Group N application on January 1, 2008.

Some of the areas the new STI (both production and rally versions) improve over the outgoing model include: a strengthened chassis, modified steering geometry, slightly lengthened wheelbase, double wish-bone rear suspension, and numerous performance upgrades to the engine by strengthening and lightening various parts.

The new WRX STI Group N has been tested over the same courses as the current STI Group N and times show better performance from the new model. Part of the reason is the 3-mode SI drive and multi-mode Driver Controlled Center Differential (DCCD) have computerized controls, which allows nearly infinite combinations depending on rally conditions. Weight distribution has been improved, rear overhang reduced, and the roll center of the car has been optimized - all of which aid in the improved handling of the car, which is based on the Japanese domestic model production STI.

Once approved by the FIA, Subaru will deliver the cars to STI base teams for the 2008 season.