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Car reviews - Subaru - Impreza - WRX sedan


27 Mar 1994

WHO would have thought the humble origins of the original Impreza would lead to a true modern classic? Recession-savaged Subaru’s decision to base the replacement of the long-toothed L-series (Leone) small car on the Liberty/Legacy platform may have been borne of economic need (they shared drivetrain, suspension and some auxiliaries), but it soon exploited the Impreza’s four-wheel drive potential. And none more so than with the iconic, five-speed manual-only WRX from early 1994. Offering a 155kW, turbocharged, 2.0 twin-cam engine and 4WD in both four-door sedan and hatchback bodies, it took the Mitsubishi CC Lancer GSR's outstanding all-weather performance and cranked it up a notch or three. In late ’95 the short-run WRX Rallye introduced the series’ signature blue paintwork, while in late '96 there was a model-wide specification and engineering upgrade resulted in a redesigned grille, bonnet and headlights, as well as revised wheel and interior trim, a new console and more standard features. There was more torque and a four-speed auto option (finally) for the WRX, along with a value-added WRX LTD edition from early ’97. From September '97 Subaru incorporated the Impreza-based light 4WD Forester’s dashboard for all Model Year (MY) 98 models, increased the standard items list and added new wheel and cabin trim. In May ’98 Club Spec versions of the WRX were also released. Along with the now-annual usual round of minor trim adjustments, all front-wheel drive Impreza models vanished. This kept in line with Subaru’s “all-wheel drive is all we do” policy. A significantly engine upgrade meant that the WRX now cranked out 160kW. Subaru imported a handful of the rare 206kW two-door only WRX STi (the only version of this body style to be sold locally), while a four-door STi was released in May ’00.

The Road to Recovery podcast series

Model release date: 1 February 1994 to 1 October 2000

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