Subaru signalled an increased commitment to rallying in 1989 when it joined forces with motorsport preparation specialists Prodrive to campaign the new Legacy RS. The Subaru World Rally Team was born out of the alliance and domestic success in both individual rallies and championships soon followed. From the outset the team built its reputation on constant development and a willingness to experiment with cutting-edge technology – perpetual traits through the passing seasons. Within a year of joining Subaru, Prodrive was invited to contribute ideas which would make the forthcoming Impreza suitable for the stage well before the production car design was finalised.
Soon after the 1993 launch of the Impreza road car, its rally-bred cousin was revealed. It would be known as the Impreza 555. Mechanically-speaking the Impreza and Legacy were very similar. The new car retained its predecessor’s compact, lightweight engine, well-balanced chassis and strut-type suspension. But the Impreza was smaller and nimbler, with a new turbo, intercooler and cylinder heads giving it 15-20 more horsepower. Subaru was keen to put its new creation to work on the most demanding test bed of them all: the World Rally Championship.
The Subaru Impreza 555 first turned a wheel on May 19, 1993, three months before it was due to make its competitive debut. It was an improvement over the Legacy in almost every aspect. The engine offered better acceleration, more response and ran at a cooler temperature. The Impreza’s enhanced handling raised cornering speeds, while the braking system was also superior.
Much of the Impreza’s early success was derived from its basic layout and deliberate weight distribution. The all-aluminium engine meant less of the load hung over the front wheels, enhancing the car’s balance and allowing the drivers to make a more efficient use of their tyres than any of the competition. Technological boundaries were still being pushed, however, as the car featured an active centre differential from the outset.
The Impreza 555 made its World Rally Championship debut on Finland’s 1000 Lakes Rally in 1993 where two cars were entered, driven by local superstars Markku Alen and Ari Vatanen. Vatanen dominated the event, giving a thrilling demonstration of the car’s potential. A windscreen de-misting problem ultimately denied the team a maiden victory, but Ari’s second place certainly singled the car out as one to watch.
The team didn’t have to wait long for the Impreza 555′s first win. It came in Corsica, 1994, with Carlos Sainz at the wheel. The Spaniard’s success marked the beginning of a triumphant period for Subaru. New Zealander ‘Possum’ Bourne won the FIA Asia-Pacific Rally Championship (a result repeated by Kenneth Eriksson in 1996), while Sainz and team-mate Colin McRae claimed three further victories on WRC events.
The 1994 season had raised expectation in the Subaru camp to fever pitch. The following year delivered the dream results. McRae and the Impreza 555 swept the board, winning both the Manufacturers’ and Drivers’ World Rally Championship titles. The Scotsman was the youngest-ever world champion (with Sainz taking second place) and Subaru took a clean sweep of the podium positions on both the slippery mud of the RAC Rally and the dry asphalt of Catalunya; ample demonstration of the Impreza’s all-round ability.
The success story continued in 1996, when another dominant season from the Impreza and team drivers Kenneth Eriksson and Colin McRae was rewarded by a second consecutive manufacturers’ title for Subaru.
From 1997 there was a new look to the cars competing in the World Rally Championship. A new breed of machine was created to embryonic World Rally Car specifications. Revised regulations permitted major changes, chiefly to the width of the car and suspension geometry; engine internals and the aerodynamics.
Although based heavily on the basic concept of the Group A Impreza 555, the car’s successor: the Impreza WRC97 set the visual standard by which other manufacturers were judged. While engineers capitalised on the freedoms allowed by the new technical regulations, renowned auto-stylist Peter Stevens was drafted in to get the most from the aerodynamic opportunities. It was the first WRC car to be unveiled and widely acclaimed as the most visually stunning.
The Impreza WRC97 made the best possible debut with a win on the 1997 season opener when Piero Liatti won the Monte Carlo Rally. Seven more wins ensured Subaru was unchallenged for its third consecutive world manufacturers’ title. The development of the car continued through the late 1990s, with the WRC98 and WRC99 further refining the Impreza package and incorporating the latest technological advances.
Among the array of technology in the Subaru Impreza range was the unique semi-automatic gearbox, together with a fly-by-wire throttle, as fitted to the 1999 Impreza WRC. Physical selection of the gears was made by a series of hydraulic actuators, controlled by a computer. Unlike previous versions of the Subaru system, there was no gear lever in the car. Now the driver pushed or pulled a paddle to the right of the steering wheel to make selections. All modern rally cars now have this technology, but Subaru is proud to have been the first.
After a comparatively disappointing 1998 season, by the team’s exacting standards, and a difficult first half of 1999 where the team’s efforts were dogged by mechanical troubles, a dramatic victory in Argentina in 1999 signaled a return to form. In the second half of the season the Impreza, now driven by Richard Burns and Juha Kankkunen, was once again the car to beat. Following the win in Argentina, the Impreza claimed victories in Greece, Finland, Australia and Britain. Burns ended the season as runner-up in the championship.
The WRC99 was retained for the start of the 2000 season and proved competitive with a memorable victory on its last event: the tremendously tough Safari Rally in Kenya. For the next rally of the season, the Rally of Portugal, the Subaru World Rally Team unveiled the Impreza WRC2000.
The outgoing Subaru Impreza WRC99 was the result of a 10-year evolution process that began with the Legacy. The WRC2000 was a complete redesign of the rally car following a 10-month development project, starting with a clean sheet of paper. Every component was examined for possible improvement and, although the end product looked similar in external appearance to the WRC99, beneath that familiar skin it was 80 per cent new.
The WRC2000 made its debut in Portugal, and, with Richard Burns behind the wheel, claimed victory out of the box. More successes followed for the WRC2000, this time in the mud and rocks of Argentina. Despite another home win on Rally GB and his most successful season to date, Burns again had to settle for the runner-up spot in the World Rally Championship.
The one area of the Impreza WRC2000 that was not obviously different to the previous incarnations of the model was the two-door bodyshell. The same, however, could not be said of the WRC2001. More so than any other Impreza at the time, the WRC2001 was developed in tandem with its road-going counterpart, allowing Subaru’s legion of fans to genuinely benefit from the technology bristling beneath the car’s skin and four doors.
Development of the new car was in two phases. The first was the mechanical development, which had been thoroughly tested in the WRC2000, before being transferred to the new WRC2001 bodyshell. The second phase was to address the physical considerations of aerodynamics, shell strength, packaging and weight distribution. Once again, Prodrive’s director of styling, Peter Stevens, was pressed in to service to oversee the external elements of the car – a project that began as early as September 1999.
A difficult start to the 2001 season was quickly overturned by Subaru’s dedicated team of engineers. Thanks to a determined approach by Burns, the Impreza tasted the ultimate success, with a world title, on Rally GB. Victory in New Zealand earlier in the year had thrown Burns into the heart of a title battle that would go down to the wire. A controlled third place in Wales was enough to secure Burns’ first Drivers’ Championship and a fifth title for Subaru.
The 2002 season delivered fresh challenges. Four-time world champion Tommi Mäkinen led the Subaru World Rally Team line up, partnered by Norway’s rising star Petter Solberg. Between them they ensured the Subaru Impreza success story continued. The year was bookended by victories for Tommi (in Monte Carlo) and Petter (on Rally GB). Those maximum scores, combined with a string of podium places, carried the young Solberg to second position in the title race.
The WRC2003 was the result of an integrated design process which brought Prodrive and Subaru closer together than ever. The two companies worked hand-in-hand to complete revisions to the engine, roll-cage, body panels and the car’s overall aerodynamic package. During the 2003 WRC campaign, the car proved a significant improvement over its predecessor and powered Petter Solberg to four sensational wins and the drivers’ title.
After a 14-month design and development project the next evolution of the Subaru Impreza World Rally Car, the WRC2004, made its competitive debut on the Corona Rally Mexico. Taking full advantage of the latest FIA technical regulations, and incorporating a host of improvements to areas like the bodyshell, engine, suspension, electronics systems and aerodynamics, the WRC2004 was a result of Subaru’s desire to harness the engineering skills of its teams at Subaru Tecnica International (STI) and Fuji Heavy Industries Ltd (FHI) in Japan and at the Subaru World Rally Team’s base in the UK. It did not disappoint and achieved five wins in one season. The WRC2004 was retained for the start of the 2005 season and won on its final ever official outing, when Solberg won the Swedish Rally.
Featuring a wider track, revised styling, composite body panels and a host of engine enhancements, the 2005-specification Impreza world rally car made its competitive debut on Rally Mexico. A product of the continued close collaboration between engineering and design teams in the UK and Japan, the WRC2005 ensured that the Impreza kept its position as a top-level contender in the World Rally Championship – despite incredibly stiff opposition.
The 2006 season saw the biggest shake-up in the technical rules since the world rally car formula was introduced in 1997. In order to cut costs, active differentials and water injection were banned. Teams were also obliged to re-use cars and engines on selected ‘pairs’ of events – a system which was first tried on some rallies in 2005. All these rule changes meant that Subaru, along with every other team, was obliged to run its 2006 car from the first rally of the year, rather than introducing it once the season had started. For 2007 the team will revert to the tradition of introducing its new car only when it is satisfied that the car has been fully developed into a winning proposition, so an interim Impreza will be used on the opening rallies of the year.
Introduced by Subaru in November of 1992, the Impreza is a compact car that was offered in either front wheel or all wheel drive and featured sporty curves. The Impreza came in both four-door sedan/saloon versions or five-door station wagon/estate. More compact than the Legacy, the Impreza had a more enhanced high-performance driving and feeling of quality than its predecessor.
The Impreza became Subaru’s entry into the small-car maket segment in U.S., European, Japanese and numorous other world markets. ‘Subura’ a Japanese word meaning ‘unite’ has a reputation for reliability and customer satisfaction that is represented in their more than 10 million vehicles sold worldwide.
Equipped with a flat engine (or an internal combustion engine, also called a boxermotor) the Impreza came with distinguishable Subaru characteristics. With an engine choice of 1.5: or 1.8L naturally-aspirated engines that were neither turbocharged nor supercharged.
Available in a 4-wheel drive turbo charged version that delivered 211Bhp and had the distinction of the turbo charger mounted on the right side of the engine. The intercooler is located above the engine, therefore the reason for the big central air vent on the bonnet of the Impreza. On the racing version of the Impreza, the intercooler is located in the front bumper.
The Impreza came with an engine that was mounted longitudinally, making the gearbox and transmission much easier to fit and service.
For drivers searching for a car that provides thrills without major frills, the Japanese manufacturers have gained the status of being the only ones still able to produce a car for such a low price. Subaru Impreza turbo is gaining impressive commercial success due to price to performance ratio, its racing successes and reliable features.
The Impreza turbo’s commercial success has led to production of more impressive versions that aren’t available outside of Japan. The Impreza GT turbo evolved into becoming a multiple World Rally Champion with three world championship titles.
Common in Japan and Europe, special editions of the Impreza were available, usually coinciding with significant victories at World Rally Championships.
For the 1997 model year, the Impreza received an updated exterior facelift that was followed by a complete interior redesign in 1998.
A first-generation Impreza, turbocharged was never received in the North American market.
Subaru introduced its Impreza Compact Car in 1993 and has since become a pinnacle of performance. The name ‘Impreza’ was derived from an Italian word ‘impresa’, meaning a feat or achievement. In Polish, the name ‘Impreza’ means to ‘party’, an ‘event’ or ‘show’. In either language, the name is suitable.
When the Impreza was first introduced in November of 1993, it was available in either front wheel drive or all wheel drive configuration. Two bodystyles were offered, a four-door sedan or five-door station wagon. The two-door coupe followed a few years later, in 1995. Trim levels included the LX, GL, and Sport. Adding to the vehicles versatility, the Impreza was offered with a variety of engines, including a 1.6, 1.8, and 2.0-liter engine. To boost performance further, a turbocharger and intercooler was available on the 2-liter engine. Horsepower for the forced-induction engine was an impressive 208. In the Japanese market, the output was even higher.
Subaru Tecnica International (STi) was formed in 1988; their purpose was to specialize in the preparation of vehicles for rallies. In 1994, they were given the opportunity to create a version of the Impreza to bear the ‘STi’ nameplate. When introduced, it was only available in the Japanese Domestic Market (JDM) and European Domestic Market (EDM). These versions featured performance-tuned engines, transmission, and suspensions. Horsepower was raised above the normal WRX models, and could carry the vehicles from zero-to-sixty in just 4.9 seconds. Top speed was electronically limited at 122 mph. The European market had a slightly de-tuned version of the engine, though performance was still impressive. Additional steps were taken to prepare the vehicles for rally competition. The soundproofing material was reduced, the air conditioning removed, and void of many non-essential amenities. The overall weight of the vehicle was reduced significantly.
The Impreza received cosmetic changes in 1997 and the interior was redesigned in the following year. The design-inspiration for the interior was borrowed from the Forester.
Special edition Impreza’s have been introduced throughout its production lifespan. These limited edition models are often tuned for greater performance or given unique cosmetic changes. The purpose is often to commemorate a racing success or to honor a racing legend. Editions include the Series McRae, 555, Catalunya, Terzo, RB5, P1, and 22B. A limited edition version of the Impreza Wagon was even offered for a short time, dubbed the CasaBlanca.
The European market received a performance upgraded version of the Impreza in 1999 which featured an improved turbocharger and 4-pot calibers with larger disc brakes. The suspension was improved and the seating became more racer-oriented with bucket seats similar to the STi version.
While the rest of the world was offered the turbocharger version of the Impreza, the North American market was left to sit on the side-lines. The turbocharger would not come across ‘the pond’ during the first generation of the Impreza. The Impreza was offered with the 1.8-liter engine with either front- or all-wheel drive. A 2.2-liter version of the engine became available in 1995. The FWD was later droped and all Subaru’s became all-wheel drive as standard.
Subaru was unsure of the performance market in North America, and thus, offered only basic engines. In 1998, the year the 1.8-liter engine was no longer available, Subaru decided to explore the possibilities of performance in the US. They offered a performance model dubbed the Impreza 2.5RS. The 2.5-liter DOHC naturally-aspirated engine produced 165 horsepower and had performance upgrades throughout the vehicle, including larger brakes and 16-inch five-spoke gold-colored wheels. Hood vents, rear spoiler, and a hood scoop helped segregate the styling from this ‘special’ model and its non-tuned sibling.
In 2001, Subaru introduced a larger, more refined and improved, Impreza. For some, the changes were a step in the wrong direction, as the car grew in size and weight. It was tamer beast for the typical day-to-day driving conditions and the extra size meant it was more versatile. Also, the coupe model was no longer offered.
The WRX version, for the United States, with its 2.0-liter turbocharged engine that cranked out nearly 230 horsepower became available the following year, in 2002. The US had to wait a long time to get the STi version, which did not enter into production for the States until 2004. To comply with safety and emission control laws in the United States, it was not the same thoroughbred racer as in other parts of the world. Still, it was a very impressive machine. In other markets, the STi was equipped with a twin-scroll turbocharger 2.0-liter engine. In the US, the STi was powered by a 2.5-liter EJ25 engine mated with a turbocharger.
In 2003, the Impreza was given a facelift, mainly due to the negative reaction by some media outlets. One of the more noticeable changes were to the headlamps, which became more square. Another redesign occurred in 2006 on all Impreza’s, featuring changes to its headlights, taillights, and bumpers – among other changes.
The Third generation of the Impreza was introduced to the world at the 2007 New York Auto Show, ready for sale in 2008. It will be available as a four-door sedan and five-door hatchback.
2006 Subaru Impreza WRX STi WRC
Model Impreza WRX STi WRC
Engine Location Front
Drive Type AWD
Production Years for Series 2002 – 2007
Weight 1230 kg | 2712.2 lbs
MPG City 18
MPG Highway 24
Engine Configuration O
Displacement 1994.00 cc | 121.7 cu in. | 2 L.
Valves 16 valves.
4 valves per cylinder.
Horsepower 300.00 HP (220.8 KW) @ 5500.00 RPM
Torque 434.00 Ft-Lbs (588.5 NM) @ 4000.00 RPM
HP to Weight Ratio 9.0 LB / HP (Vehicles with similar ratio)
HP / Liter 150.0 BHP / Liter
Fuel Feed Fuel Injected
Vehicles with similar horsepower and weight
1st Gear 3.636
2nd Gear 2.375
3rd Gear 1.761
4th Gear 1.346
5th Gear 0.971
6th Gear 0.756
Cargo Volume 11.00 cu. ft.
Fuel Capacity 15.9 Gal
Seating Capacity 4
Length 4425.001 mm | 174.2 in.
Width 1800.001 mm | 70.9 in.
Height 1390.001 mm | 54.7 in.
Wheelbase 2545.001 mm | 100.2 in.
Front Track 58.701 in | 1491 mm.
Rear Track 58.901 in | 1496.1 mm.
Ground Clearance 5.701 in | 144.8 mm.
Front Headroom 38.601 in | 980.5 mm.
Rear Headroom 38.601 in | 980.5 mm.
Front Legroom 42.901 in | 1089.7 mm.
Rear Legroom 42.901 in | 1089.7 mm.
Front Hip Room 53.31 in | 1354.1 mm.
Rear Hip Room 51.91 in | 1318.5 mm.
Vehicles with similar dimensions
Suspension Front : MacPherson strut. Sachs, fully adjustable shock absorbers
Rear : MacPherson strut with longitudinal and transverse link. Sachs, fully adjustable shock absorbers
Steering Overall Ratio 15.2:1
Turns lock to lock 2.70
Turning Circle 35.401 ft
Front Brake Size 12.001 in | 304.8 mm.
Rear Brake Size 12.001 in | 304.8 mm.
Tires / Wheels