GT7’s July Update Unites a Long-Lost Rally Car and a Classic Fictional Track

The late-'90s Subaru Impreza rally car, cut from the PS3 games, will finally get to take on the Eiger Nordwand in Gran Turismo 7.
Image of Subaru Impreza Rally Car on Eiger Nordwand in Gran Turismo 7 July 2024 update trailer.
Gran Turismo via YouTube

Every time I’m certain we’ve seen the last parcel of free content for Gran Turismo 7, Polyphony Digital surprises with something special or, at the very least, unexpected. This past weekend, the studio marked the first round of the 2024 World Series in Montreal with a trailer for content that’s due to arrive in two weeks. The timing is the catch—typically, GT7’s monthly updates are announced midway through the last week of a given month, and rolled out to players that Thursday. But as June brought no new content, we’ve gotten an early preview of July’s offerings instead. And there’s one detail of them that’s encouraged this longtime Gran Turismo fan.

By now you likely know that July’s Patch 1.49 will bring the fictional Eiger Nordwand circuit back to Gran Turismo, as well as five cars: the 2007 Ferrari 430 Scuderia, 1997 E36 BMW M3, 2008 Lamborghini Gallardo LP560-4, Genesis X Gran Racer VGT, and 1998 Subaru Impreza Rally Car. There also looks to be a sizable physics update and new aftermarket wheels courtesy of Japan’s Pokal Custom Felgen. But it’s the reappearance of Eiger and the ’98 Impreza WRC that I’d like to call attention to in particular, because it may be no coincidence that they’re arriving now, in the same patch.

Let’s turn the clock back 18 years, to 2006. The PlayStation 3 is fresh, and while it would be two years before we’d see Gran Turismo 5 Prologue on our North American consoles and far longer before the full-fat GT5 could disappoint us (it’s an overrated game, people), we had a little teaser in the form of Gran Turismo HD Concept. This was a free downloadable title in the days before that was commonplace on gaming consoles, showcasing the high-fieldity sim racing experience Polyphony Digital would strive to deliver in the studio’s follow-up to the universally praised Gran Turismo 4 on PS2. GTHD was, as the name implied, a sampling of Gran Turismo in high-definition—specifically, 1440×1080 resolution. (True 1080p didn’t come as easily to the PS3 as Sony’s marketing implied at the time.) This was also the first Gran Turismo to feature a Ferrari, namely the 599 GTB Fiorano.

GTHD had that car and nine others; it also gave us our first taste of the Eiger Nordwand, a 1.5-mile ribbon of asphalt draped over the Bernese Alps. It would appear again in GT5 Prologue and become very familiar to GT fans in the years-long wait for the complete GT5. But GTHD very nearly included another car—a rally machine that would’ve complemented the Toyota Celica GT-Four ST205 the free game launched with. Pre-release footage shared by Polyphony itself teased it and, well—if you can see the thumbnail below, you know what’s coming.

Yes, an Impreza rally car, much like the one that will debut in GT7 later this month, was by all indications due to appear in GTHD 18 years ago. Yet somehow, between the release of this short gameplay trailer and the free game’s launch, it went missing. What’s more, this particular Impreza—it was a ’99 model, as opposed to the ’98 in GT7—never featured in GT5 Prologue, the full GT5, or GT6. It was built for these games, and cut for reasons never made clear. In its place, we had to make do with the “Standard Model” Impreza rally car from the PS2-era installments, with about 100 times fewer polygons and low-res textures. No, it didn’t look great.

WRC fans will note that the ’98 model in GT7 bears Colin McRae’s name on the window, while the canceled ’99-spec car from GTHD had no names listed. (Richard Burns, Juha Kankkunen, and Bruno Thiry drove it that year.) All the same, it’s fitting that a fan-favorite rally car that mysteriously disappeared from the series nearly two decades ago has made its way back, alongside the track it was intended to drift around. You can certainly guess what I plan to do on July 25, when Patch 1.49 finally goes live.

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