► Subaru have made a welcome return to motorsport
► New Levorg becomes team BMR's new BTCC car
► Also marks the return of the BTCC estate
Think Subaru and motorsport, and a fiver says your mind’s eye conjures images of McRae, Burns, forests and flying Imprezas. This season the starry-badged brand returns to frontline motorsport, only this time in circuit racing, and without a blue ’n’ fluoro-liveried WRX to be seen. Instead, the oddball Levorg estate will do battle in the notoriously nasty British Touring Car Championship.
And on paper, it’s got every chance of grabbing some real glory. Four cars will be developed and run by Team BMR, winners of last season’s constructors’ championship, with two of them driven by former champions Jason Plato and Colin Turkington.
‘It was Jason who began the communications with Subaru, bringing the BTCC to their attention and vice versa,’ BMR boss Warren Scott told CAR. ‘We could see from the outset that the Levorg had huge potential as a touring car. Normally estates aren’t so great from an aero point of view, but the Levorg is an extremely slippery car.’ Not to mention one that upholds a fine tradition of unlikely BTCC wagons, from Volvo’s box-tastic 850 to Honda’s Civic Tourer.
Hertfordshire-based BMR is developing the car in-house, with minimal technical support from Subaru. Engine specialists Mountune are working their magic on the Levorg’s 2.0-litre flat-four. ‘It’ll be the only boxer engine on the grid. It’s definitely going to sound interesting,’ says Scott. The production Levorg is full-time four-wheel drive, in keeping with its muddy country-squire ethos but that’s outlawed in the BTCC, and the racer will drive its rear wheels.
Subaru’s signed a triple-season deal with BMR, so it’s in for the long haul. ‘We’re committed to getting the Levorg winning as soon as possible,’ Scott says. ‘Fighting for victories by mid-season and in the title hunt come the end of the year.’
Can the marketing power of motorsport save the Levorg road car from eccentric obscurity? A win or two can’t do any harm. After all, who’d heard of a Subaru Impreza before the WRC glory days?
‘No please, after you’ – BTCC 2016 is go
A smorgasbord of silhouette racers disguised as repmobiles, from 1-series to A-class, Focus to Civic, MG6 to Avensis. Reigning champ Gordon Shedden sticks with Honda Racing for 2016, alongside perennial BTCC frontrunner Matt Neal, and watch out for rising stars Adam Morgan and Jack Goff too, the latter taking Andy Priaulx’s recently vacated spot in the WSR BMW team. It all kicks off (probably quite literally) at Brands Hatch on 2 April.
Read more from the March 2016 issue of CAR magazine