Subaru Impreza WRX: Rich & Iconic History

Subaru Impreza WRX: Rich & Iconic History

red Subaru WRX next to warehouse

The Subaru Impreza WRX, a name that reverberates with performance enthusiasts and automotive aficionados alike, stands as a testament to Subaru’s unwavering commitment to engineering excellence. Since its debut in 1992, the Impreza has carved out a distinctive place in the hearts of drivers worldwide. Renowned for its captivating blend of exhilarating performance, all-weather capability, and unwavering reliability, the Impreza has solidified its status as an automotive icon. Whether tearing through rally stages or navigating city streets with grace, the Subaru Impreza embodies the spirit of adventure and innovation, setting the bar high for compact cars in the industry.

The Birth & Rise of Impreza WRX (1992-2014)

blue 1999 subaru impreza GT
1999 Subaru Impreza GT
Source: crash71100 via Flickr

In October 1992, Subaru introduced the world to the Subaru Impreza. The car offered a range of options including front-wheel drive (FWD) or all-wheel drive (AWD) versions, as well as four-door sedan or five-door wagon (Touring) models. Built on a shortened version of the Legacy’s floor pan, the Impreza showcased Subaru’s commitment to the use of the boxer engine configuration, which provided improved balance and a lower center of gravity, resulting in enhanced handling and reduced body roll. Initially, the Impreza was planned to be named the Loyale, but it was officially named Impreza before its release. Over the years, the Impreza expanded its lineup with the introduction of a two-door coupe and various engine options ranging from 1.5 to 2.0 liters.

red subaru impreza WRX on graphite
1995 Subaru Impreza WRX
Source: Aidan via Wikipedia
red subaru impreza WRX on graphite
Source: Aidan via Wikipedia

Over time, the Impreza received exterior facelifts and interior redesigns, with updates in the 1997 and 1998 model years. Subaru’s emphasis on all-wheel drive expanded in North America, making it a standard feature on all Impreza models starting in 1997. While the first generation of Impreza didn’t include the WRX version in North American markets, Subaru showcased a turbocharged Impreza called the 2.5RX at various car shows to gauge interest. The performance-oriented 2.5RS was introduced in 1998, featuring a naturally aspirated 2.5-liter engine, larger brakes, and styling cues from its overseas counterparts. The 1999 model brought additional updates, including an updated front bumper similar to the Japanese Version 5 Impreza WRX STI.

white 1995 wrx sti
1995 Subaru WRX STI
Source: Mr Bungle via Wikipedia

WRX & WRX STi Line

Blue Subaru Impreza 22B STi in a parking lot
Subaru Impreza 22B STi. The 22B was used to commemorate both Subaru’s 40th anniversary as well as the third consecutive manufacturer’s title for Subaru in the FIA World Rally Championship.
Source: Stephen Hynds via Flickr

The Subaru WRX has a rich history spanning seven notable versions, with its origins rooted in Subaru’s World Rally Cross staging vehicles. The acronym “WRX” stands for “World Rally eXperimental,” signifying the rally-inspired technology present in all WRX models. These vehicles feature all-wheel drive, enhanced suspensions, and turbocharged four-cylinder engines. The STi versions, distinguished by consecutive numbers, offered even higher performance and were renowned for their success in rallies. The WRX versions produced between 1992 and 2000 can be identified by the chassis code GC8 for sedans and GF8 for hatchbacks, followed by a letter from A to G. In the United States, the coupe versions had a separate chassis code of “GM.”

dark blue 1999-2000 Subaru Impreza
1999-2000 Subaru Impreza WRX.
Source: Fir0002 via Wikipedia

In 1994, Subaru introduced Subaru Tecnica International (STi badged) versions of the WRX exclusively in Japan. These models received significant upgrades compared to the standard WRX, featuring meticulously tuned engines, transmissions, and suspensions. While the WRX found popularity among street racers and enjoyed success in rallies, the STi variants took performance to the next level. It’s worth noting that STi had been preparing Subaru rally cars since 1988, but the WRX STi Version was the first model to feature an actual STi badge and receive dedicated handcrafted tuning. Unfortunately, the STi versions were limited to the Japanese market and not available internationally.

Second generation (2000-2007)

Rally subaru wrx on a dirt road
Source: Jim Culp via Flickr

Subaru introduced the “New Age” Impreza in Japan in August 2000, featuring a larger size compared to its predecessor. The sedan grew by 40 millimeters (1.6 in), while the wagon had a slight increase of 5 millimeters (0.2 in), placing them in different Japanese classification categories. The coupe body style was discontinued, but the off-road appearance package with contrasting-colored bumpers remained. The Outback Sport, marketed separately, continued to be available in North America.

blue 2002 Subaru Impreza 2.0 GT model
2002 Subaru Impreza 2.0 GT model.
Source: RL GNLZ via Flickr

The Impreza offered a range of naturally aspirated flat-four (boxer) engines, including the 1.5-liter EJ15, 1.6-liter EJ16, 2.0-liter EJ20, and 2.5-liter EJ25. Turbocharged versions were available in the WRX and WRX STI models, with the STI featuring a more powerful turbocharged engine. Initially, the WRX models had a 2.0-liter turbocharged boxer engine, which later transitioned to a 2.5-liter turbocharged engine in 2005.

red subaru impreza wrx turbo
2003 Subaru Impreza WRX.
Source: Vauxford via Wikipedia

Subaru provided various specifications and limited edition models for the turbocharged WRX and WRX STI variants, catering to different preferences. The STI models received regular updates, including cosmetic enhancements, equipment upgrades, and improvements in performance and handling.

red subaru impreza wrx turbo
Source: Aidan via Wikipedia

Third Generation (2007-2014)

black subaru impreza wrx sti
Subaru Impreza WRX STi
Source: Alexander Migl via Wikipedia

The third generation of the Subaru Impreza was unveiled at the New York Auto Show in April 2007, featuring both a standard version and the turbocharged WRX variant. The lineup expanded with the high-performance WRX STI in October of the same year. The new generation introduced a five-door hatchback initially, followed by the four-door sedan in 2008, replacing the wagon body style. Subaru focused on increasing size, stiffness, and safety features while reducing weight in the third-generation Impreza. The body was slightly longer and wider with an extended wheelbase. Changes included the adoption of MacPherson strut and double wishbone suspensions, as well as improvements to noise, vibration, and harshness levels. Subaru focused on increasing size, stiffness, and safety features while reducing weight in the third-generation Impreza. The body was slightly longer and wider with an extended wheelbase. Changes included the adoption of MacPherson strut and double wishbone suspensions, as well as improvements to noise, vibration, and harshness levels.

black subaru wrx sti in a parking lot
Source: Alexander Migl via Wikipedia

The turbocharged WRX variant, introduced alongside the standard models, featured a 2.5-liter EJ255 engine with improved airflow efficiency. It received updates in subsequent years, such as a power boost and enhanced suspension components. The WRX STI, initially launched in 2007, offered even greater performance, featuring a wider body, advanced electronic systems, and aluminum suspension parts.

engine of a subaru impreza wrx
Source: Debs via Flickr

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