Thanks to its powerful four-wheel drive vehicles, Subaru has succeeded in becoming a globally recognized specialist in SUVs. And now, in the fall of 1992, all that was missing was an attractive competitor in the compact class, with the VW Golf or Toyota Corolla setting the tone. In fact, the Subaru Impreza brought all the characteristics typical of the brand, such as powerful boxer engines with a low center of gravity and an all-wheel drive system with a horizontal layout for neutral driving behavior and this even with an inexpensive base gasoline engine: that was enough for the best-selling career and first place as the best SUV Bestseller in the world in its class. But Subaru also had aspiring sport drivers in mind who were looking for an alternative to the Far Eastern five-seater with all-wheel drive from European Vmax manufacturers like the BMW M3, Maserati 430 or Porsche 968: the Impreza WRX STI, which usually features a bright blue color Gold paint and rims initially with a 206 kW / 280 hp Boxer engine and immediately achieved a prestigious position. No wonder, the WRX STI has dominated the World Rally Championship for years. Fans of console racing games at speed have chosen the racer as the boxer spins at up to 8000 revolutions as their favourite. This Subaru was even good for real-world records: In 2009 stunt driver Travis Patrana jumped 82 meters with an STI.
Although the ultra-powerful WRX STI sports sedan paid tribute to European emissions legislation in 2018 and provided for the last time the distinctive performance badge of the massive rear wings and sharp lips of the “Last Edition”, the fifth-generation Impreza with a mild-hybrid Boxer still relies on glamour. Today is for the winner of the hot-blooded series. The sports legend was born in January 1994 in the international motorsport division Subaru Technica, as evidenced by the STI type symbol. The acronym WRX, World Rally Experimental, in turn refers to the playing field of Impreza’s most intense game: rally tracks. Subaru led the first training sessions in the World Rally Championship as early as 1980, but the breakthrough came only in 1994 with the Impreza STI. At the end of the season, Subaru finished second in the Manufacturers’ Championship, and rally titans Carlos Sainz and Colin McRae took second and fourth places in the Drivers’ Championship.
A year later, these two Impreza drivers fought a head-to-head duel that secured Subaru an entry in the history books as McRae became the youngest WRC racer to win the drivers’ title. Sainz was close to second and the Japanese brand took the Manufacturers’ Championship, again in 1996 and 1997. Subsequent WRC seasons at Subaru saw the champ in hand, but only Richard Burns (2001) and Peter Solberg (2003) were able to win the drivers’ title. World Championships with Impreza WRC. In addition, the Impreza WRC set an exclamation point in Germany, with Armin Kremer becoming German rally champion with it in 1998 and 1999. Lots of reasons to celebrate, which fans of fast street sportsmen have benefited from, as evidenced by the 160 kW/218 Impreza GT Turbo horse, for which Subaru honored the victories of Armin Kramer. One of the sporty specials still in demand today is the civilian-engined “Holzer Edition 2.0 GL”, which Team Holzer celebrated from the 1998 rally season.
The most exciting are the street athletes, whose WRX STI flags an engine power of 206 kW/280 hp to 235 kW/320 hp, and who sprinted to 100 km/h in 4.4 seconds in the 1990s: not even V12s reduced this value in That time as the Ferrari 550 Marenello. With the art of burning the best times on the asphalt, the fastest Nippon boxer has also earned respect at the Nürburgring. In the spring of 2010, the WRX STI had a lap time of 7:55 minutes, a record for a four-door car of this type. Class victories and notable successes in the 24 Hours of Green Hell and also at Pikes followed the peak hill climb to this day, STIs leave their mark.
By contrast, the road led to significant numbers and economic gains for the Impreza eventually over the mid-engine petrol engines and the Boxer diesel engine, which was less popular on the Impreza. First there was the 4.35-meter Impreza as a classic hatchback and five-door variant, and the coupe that followed in 1995, under the hood with petrol engines of 66 kW / 90 hp or at best 85 kW / 115 hp. It was enough for roaming missions in the city, meadows and forest paths, because many forest workers and hunters immediately liked the four-wheel drive. This was contributed by special models such as the Impreza Pirsch with a raised chassis, a front guard bar and a welding pan. In the second version, the subsequent five-door Impreza was given Sportkombi in 2001, and this body type has already made a vocation for itself under the Swedish brand Saab. Like the Saab 9-2 X, the all-wheel drive must speed up the Scandinavians to new inroads in North America, an experience that was discontinued just three years later.
An attempt to create a front-wheel drive Impreza 1.5 RF as an entry-level version in the German Subaru program was also short-lived in 2008. The world’s first diesel Boxer, which was presented at the same time, was only temporarily successful in the Impreza, unlike the larger Forester and Outback models . On the other hand, the balance of the crossover versions of the Impreza is completely different. Their off-road looks went perfectly with the all-wheel drive from the start, and the Subaru Impreza XV launched in 2010 was so convincing that the Subaru XV followed just two years later: now unbranded Impreza, but also an Impreza derivative. Subaru designers built a bridge to the future in 2016: the “universal platform” was designed for electrified drivetrains, and the fifth-generation Impreza still uses it for gasoline engines with mild hybrid technology.
How is it going? The next Impreza is gearing up, but before that, the JDM and WRC communities are celebrating the 30th anniversary of this 1 millionth bestselling 4×4.
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