While the 2008 Impreza WRX was officially unveiled at the 2007 New York Autoshow, currently very little information is publicly known about the new STI. The STI will receive a higher degree of parts to differentiate it from its Impreza WRX brethren. Unlike the Impreza WRX, the STI will use aluminum body panels, will be available only as a 5-door hatchback, and will have different fenders than that of the WRX (breaking with previous tradition). Apparently, a Subaru rep stated to an IWSTI.COM member that the new STI would be 8.5″ wider than the new WRX, and that power output would be at least 320 HP coming from a Legacy GT-derived 2.5L motor. According to leaked documents posted on NASIOC.com, the Impreza WRX STI will be sold to public starting January 2008 as a 2009 model. (An update: It will be sold in December 2007 as a 2008 model.) At the New York Autoshow, a Subaru spokesman confirmed that the Impreza WRC will be based off the hatch platform, due to its lower polar moment of inertia. The car will appear on its definitive version at the 2007 Tokyo Motor Show. Subaru has released official photos on 2007/10/11. A final announcement is scheduled for 2007/10/24. The J-spec version will have a 2.0L 304 bhp (227 kW/308 PS) EJ207 engine with a twin scroll turbocharger, while other versions of the car will have a 2.5L 305 bhp (227 kW/309 PS) EJ257 engine with a single-scroll turbocharger. The 2008 car is expected to benefit from a lower polar moment of inertia due to smaller overhangs, and also features a double wishbone rear suspension. The Subaru Website confirms that this latest US model of the STI will have 305 bhp (227 kW/309 PS) and 290 ft·lbf (390 N·m). of torque. Edmunds Inside Line reveals a range in price from $35,640 to $39,440, depending on the options included. How does a kid racer mature without growing up? In the case of the Subaru Impreza WRX, it loses the fender flares and becomes a hot hatch, that Euroesque ideal of the small, fast, cheap car. And it becomes more liveable, more sophisticated. When the 2002 WRX morphed off the PlayStation screen and onto American streets, it didn’t have a useful back seat. If you put a friend back there to torture him, engine and road noises would drown out his screams. You had to deal with limited trunk space and a cheap interior. The chassis was said to be 185-percent stiffer than the previous Impreza’s, but that tells more about how flexy the 1993 to 2001 models were. You didn’t drive it because it was a practical four-door sedan; you drove it for how the Asymmetric All-Wheel-Drive and stiff suspension and boxer turbo four worked together to give you a real, tactile Gran Turismo II drive on your otherwise boring commute to work. Unfortunately, this first look at the new model-now a five-door hatchback as well as a four-door sedan-hitting showrooms in September doesn’t include a drive. The news is about everything but getting behind the wheel and flogging it sideways in the dirt or snow. The 2.5-liter four and all-wheel driveline are the only mechanical carryover pieces, and in the WRX, the 224-horsepower intercooled turbo engine’s torque peaks at 2800 rpm, down from 3600 rpm, for better performance. Subaru also claims lower emissions and 10-percent-better fuel economy. You can figure on 0-to-60-mph times in the mid-five-second range, about the same as the 2002-2007 model’s. Subaru claims a new production technique that balances ride and handling better without making the chassis stiffer. The new WRX isn’t softer, Subaru says, but “the suspension is more compliant when it needs to be,” and handling limits are much greater than on the outgoing model. The 2008 WRX also adapts the STI’s steering gear and gets a 15.0:1 ratio, quicker than the old model’s 16.5:1 ratio. Transmission choices are a five-speed manual and a four-speed automatic that adds 67 pounds. The standard Impreza 2.5i and the WRX are on an all-new platform with a 3.7-inch-longer wheelbase. The front subframe is gone, allowing Subaru to mount the engine 10 mm lower than in the old model. An unequal-length control arm suspension replaces the multilink in back, in part to reduce the wheelwell intrusion and buy more trunk space.Or hatch space. The WRX hereby becomes a five-door hatchback worldwide. You’ll be able to buy a 2008 WRX sedan, based on the new Impreza four-door, as long as you buy it in North America, a concession to lingering distaste here toward hatchbacks. The STI will be available globally only as a five-door hatchback when it goes on sale next year, just as a new Prodrive Impreza hatchback battles the all-new Ralliart Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X in the World Rally Championship arena. Subaru is quickly backing off the three-part grille, and the new WRX looks a bit like a Saturn Ion with the new one. Overall, the car’s design compares most closely with the Mazda3. The profile is wedgelike, accented with a more sharply creased Tribeca-style beltline. The side windows are now framed for a tighter body and better noise characteristics. A horizontal chrome bar connects the taillamps, which have clear lenses on the five-door WRX only (Imprezas and the WRX sedan get red lenses). The 2008 Impreza’s interior space is two inches wider than the 2007, thanks to scalloped interior door panels, so you won’t have to rub shoulders with your navigator. The WRX comes with an optional navigation system for the first time, with a seven-inch screen that flips up to reveal a six-disc CD changer and a separate nav DVD slot. There’s a connector in the center armrest for an external DVD player, or a PlayStation or Xbox game console (it only works if the handbrake is engaged) so you can race a virtual PlayStation Impreza WRC on the dash of your real WRX. The back seat is raked more for better comfort and headroom. The WRX sedan is slightly longer than the car it replaces, and the hatchback is a half foot shorter than the new sedan. The sedan, only, has a fold-down center armrest in back. The hatch has less rear overhang and a rakish D-pillar compared with the wagon it effectively replaces and has less cargo space than the new sedan. With its own Tribeca-like creased shoulder-line and red taillamps, the sedan looks like it’s paying homage to the BMW 3 Series sedan without blatantly copying it. No wonder Subaru expects the take rate to increase for the sedan from a current 60/40 to about 65/35. Interior upgrades are a good step in the right direction, but everything south of the dashboard is as dark as a David Lynch movie. The bucket seats are the other major carryover item (after the drivetrain), and that’s a good thing. They’re grippy and well bolstered. The new dash has a prominent center section, making for a kind of quasi-cockpit interior. Dark nickel accents separate the dash upper and lower and continue through the doors. The glovebox is capacious, and the upper part of the dash is covered in large-grained black vinyl that could be called “pleather,” in this case a compliment. The WRX’s gauges sweep to the max when you key it up (Subaru hasn’t yet succumbed to the fashion of pushbutton starters) and then settle to an electroluminescent red. But the rest of the interior remains fraught with hard black plastic door panels and center console. The standard Impreza’s interior will be available with ivory seats and matching ivory dash and steering wheel. In an effort to maintain multi-five-star Insurance Institute for Highway Safety ratings, the full Impreza line will feature six airbags, including side curtains and seat-mounted thorax bags. This is a welcome addition; just can’t wait to deploy them when we roll a WRX running the Monte Carlo Rally on GT3.
Aside from the interior chromatics, there’s very little outside to distinguish the standard Impreza 2.5i from the Impreza WRX. This is the car’s maturation; the 2008 WRX, at least in four-door sedan form, will be stealthier and more proper for the junior executive who wants to impress the boss.
Outside, the WRX’s intake scoop is now integrated into the hood in place of the tall add-on thing of the outgoing car. Fake front brake cooling ducts are gone. The 10-spoke wheels are still 17 inches in diameter (the Impreza 2.5i’s are 16-inch). The WRX’s wheelwells cry out for 18-inch wheels and tires, but Subaru has none in the plans. There’s a rather subtle rear deck spoiler on the sedan, and the hatchback has a lower rear diffuser and one chrome-tipped exhaust versus the dual exhaust on the Subaru WRX sedan.
So unless you plan a Scion buyer-like raid on your dealer’s accessory store, your new WRX will look much like your kid sister’s new Impreza. First thing we recommend is a powerpack from Subaru Performance Tuning (a separate group from Subaru Tecnica International, STI), which consists of a cold-air intake and heat shield that kicks in about 20 more horses. That won’t change the looks, though. The conundrum is that the WRX has always appealed to drivers who like the global market style of quirky, Japanese domestic market models.
Will these buyers take to an unadorned hot hatch? While Mitsubishi doesn’t market a comparable Lancer, the MazdaSpeed3 offers more horsepower for a similar price, although with front drive. So you have to look to the halo cars. And based on looks, the Evo X has an edge over STi styling, extrapolated from this car. Good thing for Subaru, serious cars aren’t all about styling. With the right kind of handling and performance, it won’t matter all that much that the new WRX STI has gone from kid racer sedan to hot hatch. Colin McRae, 1995
In the early 1990s, on a black lake in a proving ground carved out of the hills in rural Japan, I drove the very first version of the car that changed everything for Subaru. It was the original Impreza WRX, a turbocharged, all-wheel-drive performance version of the new small car designed by Subaru to complement the midsize Legacy.The drive was brief. But you only needed a few minutes behind the wheel to realize Subaru, one of Japan’s quirkiest automakers, had created something special: a giant-killing pocket-rocket sedan with the technology and traction of an Audi Quattro, and-thanks to its flat-four boxer engine-some of the charisma of a Porsche 911.
What’s more, it was affordable. Peter Solberg, 2007 Over the next decade, the car virtually came to define the Subaru brand-except in the U.S., where the WRX didn’t arrive until 2002 and, no surprise, Subaru’s image remained on the sensible, muesli-and-cardigans side of oddball.Successive WRX models gained more power-with the Subaru Tecnica International variants offering the most performance-but it was Subaru’s participation in the World Rally Championship with a version of the car developed by the British-based Prodrive team that made the WRX a global superstar.
Spanish rally legend Carlos Sainz drove the Impreza to its first WRC win in Greece’s Acropolis Rally in 1994. Since then the Impreza has won three WRC drivers’ titles-for spectacular Scot Colin McRae (1995), the late Richard Burns (2001), and Norway’s Petter Solberg (2003)-and three consecutive manufacturers’ titles from 1995 through 1997. Subaru (UK) Limited plans to introduce a higher-spec Impreza 2.5 WRX STI Type UK later in 2008 with a power boost courtesy of Prodrive of Banbury, rumoured to boost power by around 100 bhp (75 kW/101 PS).
Specs Japanese Version Non-Japanese Turbo twin-scroll turbo single-scroll turbo Diplacement 1997 cc 2500 cc Power 308 PS (304 hp/227 kW) 309 PS (305 hp/227 kW) RPM 6,400 6,000 rpm Torque 422 N·m (311 ft·lbf) 393 N·m (290 ft·lbf) RPM 4,400 4,000