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Subaru’s Project Midnight Pushes The Envelope of WRX Performance

by | July 9, 2024

Subaru’s Project Midnight is preparing to make a potent performance statement for the Japanese auto giant. A full carbon fiber body and big performance upgrades are only a few of the tricks that this special WRX will bring to the fabled Goodwood Festival of Speed.

While the Project Midnight concept does not preview the return of the STI model, it does show what the company has in store for this year’s Goodwood Festival of Speed.

The Subaru WRX has been an enduring presence in the performance car segment with the four-door continuing to be a balanced blend of performance and practicality especially when you pair it with its trademark six-speed manual transmission. The axed STI pumped up the formula further but while Subaru fans have been clamoring for the model to return, Subaru has repeatedly stated that an STI is not in the pipeline.

Instead, the company has chosen to give its loyal fan base other performance prizes and it appears that the Japanese automaker has saved one of the best for last with the official unveiling of the Project Midnight WRX, a special concept car that was specifically designed to take on the hill climb event at the Goodwood Festival of Speed.

Carbon fiber body cuts weight 

Full carbon fiber body panels and a revised chassis help cut 1,000 lbs of weight from the WRX.

The exterior styling of the Project Midnight car shares much of its core DNA with the production WRX but Subaru engineers went to great lengths to reduce weight to help the car be faster and sharper. That included replacing all the body panels with black carbon fiber ones which not only helps reduce excess weight, but also allowed Subaru engineers to craft shapes that would not have been possible with traditional panels including select elements of the aero package. The front fascia gets a large front spoiler with incorporated winglets while the rear gets a modified version of the rear spoiler that’s also used on the company’s rally cars. 

Subaru didn’t reveal pictures of the interior but look for the cabin to pitch the majority of the WRX’s luxury and comfort features to shed even more weight with the revised space having lightweight performance seats and other materials to help drive home the point that Project Midnight is all about speed and it isn’t afraid to sacrifice frills to help achieve its full potential.

Project Midnight doubles down on power

The concept also packs plenty of power under the hood with Subaru saying it produces 670 hp and680 lb-ft of torque.

Performance for the Project Midnight car comes from a modified version of the company’s 2.0-liter turbocharged flat-four which now makes an impressive 670 hp and 680 lb-ft of torque with the engine having the ability to spin all the way up to 9,500 rpm. The power is routed through a standard all-wheel-drive system and Subaru says that its race-prepped chassis and the aforementioned carbon fiber body panels allow the car to weigh in at 2,469 lbs which is 1,000 less than the production WRX. The suspension has also been modified for improved handling and the 18-inch wheels feature sticky racing slicks for even more grip.

Project Midnight will be driven by former F1 driver Scott Speed at Goodwood with Subaru saying that it intends to use the car to not only conquer the hill climb but to also chase and potentially break other driving records as well.

“Subaru Motorsports USA and the team at Vermont SportsCar have delivered an absolute beast,” stated Speed. “When driving the car it clearly has rallycross roots, but the wider tires, track, and geometry give it a very unique feel and incredible grip. The ultimate driving machine; half RX, half sports car – a true joy to drive.

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Project Midnight might influence future WRX models

The Project Midnight concept might influence future iterations of the WRX with some of its contributions potentially coming from its performance hardware.

Like other one-off concept vehicles, the Project Midnight WRX is not destined for production in its current form. The carbon fiber body panels would be very expensive to implement in a production vehicle and the company doesn’t have the resources to invest into a low production performance vehicle with the firm focusing the bulk of its spending dollars on EVs and SUVs.

Instead, look for the Project Midnight concept to be a rolling laboratory for some of Subaru’s performance hardware with the car providing a real-world opportunity to push some of these components to their limits in high-speed track testing. The data that the company gathers from these tests could help guide the development of similar systems for production models and that would include the next generation WRX as well as the STI if Subaru chooses to use the next generation model as a launching pad for that variant. 


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