Prodrive P25 Subaru Impreza
Prodrive

The Prodrive P25 Is the First Expensive Restomod I Actually Care About

This ultimate Subaru Impreza coupe is a restomod for the Gran Turismo generation.

Over the last several years, there's been an uptick in demand for high-end restomods. I'm talking about fancy new cars made to look like fancy old cars, relegated to super-small-batch status with prohibitive six-figure price tags. Think Porsche 911s "reimagined" by Singer or an Icon 4x4 Ford Bronco -- creations revered by rich dudes and wannabe rich dudes who putz around early-morning car shows pontificating about a car's period correctness (as well as their latest watch purchase and current frequent flyer status). In other words, not my jam.

I think that in order to get behind one of these expensive builds, you need to have some sort of connection to or affinity for the car on which it's based. These restomods are painstakingly hand-crafted, and I have tremendous respect for the artisanal vibe. But I've never drooled over an air-cooled Porsche or 1960s muscle car. That's what makes the Prodrive P25 different.

Prodrive P25 Subaru Impreza
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Prodrive P25 Subaru Impreza

It looks so unassuming, and that's awesome.

Mike Shaffer/Subaru

Let's call this a restomod for the Gran Turismo generation. The Prodrive P25 is based on the GC Subaru Impreza from the mid-1990s, a car made famous for its many rally wins and cult status in racing video games. Only 25 will be built, priced from £460,000 in the UK, or about $560,000 based on current exchange rates. Want one? You're too late. Prodrive sold the entire allotment in three days.

"We've been pilfering up the absolute best of the best of these standard road cars," Prodrive's chief engineer, Richard "Tomo" Thompson, told me at the Goodwood Festival of Speed last month, where longtime Subaru racing driver Mark Higgins drove the P25 up the infamous hill. Prodrive is the company that built the original World Rally Championship Imprezas for Subaru, and continues to work with the Japanese automaker on its race cars. Because of that, Prodrive is in a unique position to fine-tune these formerly roadgoing Imprezas based on decades of know-how.

"Through our 30-year experience in the World Rally Championship and looking at big cracks in the bulkheads and the chassis legs after Acropolis Rally and Safari Rally, we know where to put the stiffeners and the strengthening brackets," Thompson said.

Prodrive P25 Subaru Impreza
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Prodrive P25 Subaru Impreza
Mike Shaffer/Subaru

Power comes from Subaru's modern EJ25 turbocharged 2.5-liter flat-4 engine, with output estimated at 400 horsepower and 443 pound-feet of torque. However, Thompson said those are just the numbers Prodrive is quoting for the prototype. "We need to run and run and run, open the engine up, have a look at it, put it back together again, put it on the dyno, check if there's been any slight dropoff and then we'll be able to declare our final power output," he said.

A race-spec six-speed automated-sequential manual transmission puts power to all four wheels, and launching to 62 mph takes about 3.5 seconds. Like modern WRX STI sedans, Subaru's active center differential manages power front and rear, and each axle has its own limited-slip diff, too.

What about that trick center differential? "We didn't need to change that at all," Thompson said. "We just needed to put in our standard rally maps that had been developed over the years for the handbrake release, for all of the general chassis balance that you'd expect from the car."

The P25's body is made largely of carbon fiber, with flared-out fenders and a big rear wing reminiscent of Subaru's holy-grail 22B. All told, the coupe weighs about 2,645 pounds, and a rear-seat delete package further reduces weight if desired. Front to rear, inside and out, the P25 looks super clean, and I'm glad it wears Subaru's historically accurate World Rally Blue color. But no gold wheels? What gives? Breathe easy: Thompson said they're available. "You can have what you want." Phew.

Prodrive P25 Subaru Impreza
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Prodrive P25 Subaru Impreza

This interior is strictly business.

Mike Shaffer/Subaru

Along those lines, Prodrive plans to offer customization options tailored to each car's individual use case. "We want to be able to change the roll gradient, the roll balance, tune the throttle maps, the diff maps, anti-lag settings [and] the actual final power setting as well, just to make it really more usable and real-world usable," Thompson said. Production of the final customer cars is expected to kick off later this year.

Beyond the actual engineering, what speaks to me about the Prodrive P25 is that there's a greater sense of accessibility to this car than most other restomods. Even the hottest '90s Imprezas shared their bones with sub-$20,000 econoboxes, inherently removing a level of financial gatekeeping compared to something like a European sports car. Growing up, even the most basic 964-generation Porsche 911 seemed unattainable. But a two-door Impreza? Yeah, I could afford that.

I recognize that some people will look at this Prodrive with the same "meh" attitude I have about other cars, and that's OK. I'm just glad there's finally a restomod that's catering to the next generation of customers and enthusiasts. Exclusivity and inclusivity can go hand in hand.

The Prodrive P25 Is the Ultimate Subaru Impreza

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Editors' note: Travel costs related to this story were covered by the manufacturer, which is common in the auto industry. The judgments and opinions of CNET's staff are our own and we do not accept paid editorial content.