Subaru has released footage covering advanced research and development carried out at the Nurburgring in Germany, in which a 2011 Subaru Impreza WRX STI Sedan has set a new record at the legendary circuit. The latest addition to the ever-growing Impreza lineup has achieved Subaru’s fastest-ever lap time around the 13 mile Nordschleife with four-time World Rally Champion Tommi Mäkinen behind the wheel.

Mäkinen’s best time was a reasonable 7m 55 seconds, a full four seconds faster than Subaru’s previous best time, set back in 2004. To put that in perspective, that’s also four seconds faster than the 556 horsepower Cadillac CTS-V and a second faster than even the Porsche Panamera Turbo.

Subaru has been using the Nordschleife course at the Nurburgring since 1992 for advanced research and development, plus tests of the latest 2011 model year Impreza WRX and WRX STI models.

Available for the first time ever in both four- and five-door wide-body designs, the new STI rates the same 305 horsepower and 290 pound-feet as last year, as the primary improvements are made to the suspension, which is retuned for even sharper handling, and lighter 18 inch alloy wheels.

The suspension tuning is borrowed from the 2010 WRX STI Special Edition, a tauter, JDM Spec C-based tune that cuts body roll and increases lateral G forces that can be held. The ride is also lower, with new pillow ball bushings up front and stiffer bushings out back to improve feel as well as changing camber and toe. Thicker anti-roll bars are also added front and rear. The new 18 inch wheels are 17.6 pounds lighter than the previous versions collectively, hugely reducing unsprung weight.

First sales of the 2011 Subaru Impreza WRX STI will start this summer.