World Rally Champion and legend, the SUBARU Impreza turns 30!

The Subaru WRX STI says goodbye with a special model from Germany

Clearly, the Subaru Impreza is about appearance rather than appearance, about technical qualities rather than chic designs. As an unexcited compact, the Japanese became the best-selling all-wheel drive vehicle in its class from 1992. The Impreza, on the other hand, gained cult status as the spectacularly fast high-performance WRX STI version for road and track

He drove up conservatively and obediently: extravagant design didn't seem to matter to his Japanese designers. The main thing was that the new Subaru got through everywhere - and crossed the finish line first. After all, the four-wheel drive technology of the Impreza should impress, as indicated by the naming, which is derived from the English verb "impress".

The Subaru Impreza was launched in 1992

With powerful four-wheel drive vehicles Subaru had succeeded in becoming a globally recognized 4×4 specialist, but now, in autumn 1992, all that was missing was a charismatic challenger in the compact class, where the VW Golf or Toyota Corolla set the tone. In fact, the Subaru Impreza brought all the brand-typical characteristics, i.e. robust boxer engines with a low center of gravity and a 4×4 drive system in horizontal layout for neutral handling and this even with the inexpensive basic petrol engine: That was enough for a bestseller career and first place as the world's best-selling all-wheel drive vehicle in its class. But Subaru also had ambitious sports drivers in mind who were looking for a five-seater Far Eastern all-wheel drive alternative to European Vmax plants such as the BMW M3, Maserati 430 or Porsche 968: The Impreza WRX STI, which usually featured bright blue paintwork and golden rims, was initially replaced by a 206 kW/280 hp boxer engine and immediately achieved cult status. No wonder, since the WRX STI dominated the World Rally Championship for years. The fans of console racing games quickly chose the racer with the boxer rotating at up to 8.000 revs as their favourite. This Subaru was even good for shrill, real world records: In 2009, stunt driver Travis Patrana jumped 82 meters with an STI.

1994 saw the Japanese sales start for the Impreza WRX STI

Even though the extremely powerful WRX STI sports sedan paid tribute to European emissions legislation in 2018 and for the last time displayed the characteristic performance insignia of huge rear wings and sharp spoiler lips in a "Final Edition", the fifth Impreza generation is still consuming its power today mildly hybridized boxer from the brilliance of this hot-blooded serial winner. The sports legend was born in January 1994, at the Motorsport Division Subaru Tecnica International, as indicated by the type code STI. The abbreviation WRX, World Rally Experimental, in turn pointed to the playing field of the sharpest Impreza: the rally tracks. Subaru drove the first practice laps in the World Rally Championship as early as 1980, but the breakthrough only came in 1994 with the Impreza STI. At the end of the season, Subaru was runner-up in the manufacturers' championship and rally titans Carlos Sainz and Colin McRae were second and fourth in the drivers' championship.

In 1997 a WRX STI III called coupe was presented

A year later, these two Impreza drivers engaged in a head-to-head duel that secured Subaru an entry in the history books as McRae became the youngest ever WRC racer to win the drivers' title. Sainz was a close second and the Japanese marque clinched the Manufacturers' Championship, again in 1996 and 1997. Subaru's subsequent WRC seasons saw the champion's crown within reach, but only Richard Burns (2001) and Petter Solberg (2003 ) could with the Impreza WRC Drivers' World Championships to win. In addition, the Impreza WRC set an exclamation point in Germany, as Armin Kremer became German Rally Champion with it in 1998 and 1999. Lots of reasons to celebrate, which benefited the fans of fast street athletes, as demonstrated by the Impreza GT Turbo with 160 kW/218 hp, with which Subaru honored Armin Kremer's triumphs. One of the sporty special series that is still coveted today is the “Holzer Edition 2.0 GL” with a civil motor, which the Holzer team celebrated from the 1998 rally season.

In Japan, the Impreza 2000 is shown in a new generation

Far more exciting are the street athletes, whose WRX STI signet indicated engine outputs of 206 kW/280 hp to 235 kW/320 hp, and who sprinted to 1990 km/h in 4,4 seconds back in the 100s: not even V12s undercut this value at the time like the Ferrari 550 Marenello. With the art of burning best times into the asphalt, Nippon's fastest boxer also earned respect at the Nürburgring. In the spring of 2010, a WRX STI achieved a lap time of 7:55 minutes, a record for four-door models of this type 24-hour race in the Green Hell, and an STI also left its mark on the Pikes Peak hillclimb.

Subaru also competes in long-distance races with the STI model

In contrast, the road led to large numbers and economic gains for the Impreza in the end over average-powered boxer petrol engines and a boxer diesel, which was less popular in the Impreza. First there was the 4,35 meter long Impreza as a classic notchback and five-door fastback, a coupé followed in 1995, under the hood petrol engines with 66 kW/90 hp or at best 85 kW/115 hp worked. That was enough for the tasks of a city car and for meadows and forest paths, because the all-wheel drive liked it right away many forest workers and hunters. Contributing to this were special models such as the Impreza Pirsch with a raised chassis, front protection bar and welding pan. In the second edition, the five-door Impreza was given the suffix Sportkombi in 2001, and this body variant actually made a career for itself under the Swedish cult brand Saab. As the Saab 9-2 X, the four-wheel drive should accelerate the Scandinavians to new successes in North America, an experiment that was stopped after only three years.

The Impreza benefited from rallying

The attempt to establish the front-wheel drive Impreza 2008 RF as an entry-level version in the German Subaru program was also short-lived in 1.5. Also the simultaneously introduced world's first boxer diesel was only temporarily successful in the Impreza, in contrast to 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 look went perfectly with the 4×4 drive right from the start, and the Subaru Impreza XV launched in 2010 was so convincing that the Subaru XV followed just two years later: now without the Impreza signet, but further derived from the Impreza. The Subaru designers built a bridge to the future in 2016: The "Global Platform" is designed for electrified drives, and the fifth Impreza generation still uses it for boxer petrol engines with mild hybrid technology.

The WRX STi is as fast as it is flashy

How it goes on? The next Impreza is getting ready, but before that, the JDM and WRC communities are celebrating the 30th anniversary of this million-selling 4×4 bestseller. The experts at the Classic Analytics classic car evaluation organization know how popular classic STIs are: “You can get a well-preserved Impreza from the early 90s for around 3.000 euros. But whoever says Impreza in Germany usually means that Top model WRX and its market value is based not only on 'Fast and Furios' film fame, but above all on its successes in the World Rally Championship. Nothing moves for a good example for less than 25.000 euros. A few months ago, a first-hand car with few kilometers was even auctioned for over 300.000 dollars.”

Tungsten Nickel / SP-X

In brief

1972: The Subaru Leone Station Wagon AWD goes into mass production as the world's first passenger car with mechanically engageable all-wheel drive
1980: Subaru Germany is launched
1992: Production of the Subaru Impreza begins in October as the brand's first compact class model with all-wheel drive. Sales of the Impreza will start in Japan in November
1993: In the spring, the Impreza celebrates its European market launch. The Impreza will make its WRC debut in August. On October 9, Subaru presented the Impreza Wagon WRX, followed a little later by the first STI. The first Impreza generation is available in four-door sedan, five-door hatchback and two-door coupe body styles. Presentation of the Impreza Gravel EX for Asian markets and Australia in off-road optics
1994: The Impreza Pirsch special model with a higher chassis, front protection bar and welding pan is launched. Japanese sales of the Impreza WRX STI will start on January 20th. In the World Rally Championship, Subaru takes second place in the drivers' (Carlos Sainz) and constructors' classifications
1995: In January, Subaru introduces the Impreza as a coupe in Japan, the Impreza Retna 200R. Colin McRae wins the World Rally Championship in the drivers' and constructors' championship for Subaru. On August 22, Subaru presents the WRX STI II models, along with the WRX STI II 555 model, a replica of the World Rally Championship car, color blue mica with gold BBS rims. Special models WRX VV-Limited, edition 555 and WRX STI V-Limited, edition 1.000 units on the occasion of winning the title in the World Rally Championship
1996: Subaru presents the Impreza Coupé as WRX STI in September. In addition, Subaru wins the constructors' championship in the World Rally Championship
1997: On January 22, a coupe called the WRX STI III is introduced. Another World Rally Championship Constructors' Championship for Subaru
1998: In Germany, the Impreza GT 2.0 Turbo sedan becomes the top model in the Impreza range. Third place in drivers' (Colin McRae) and constructors' standings in World Rally Championship for Subaru
1999: Special model Subaru Impreza Casa Blanca on Asian markets in retro design. Second place in drivers' (Richard Burns) and constructors' championships in the World Rally Championship for Subaru
2000: The new generation of the Impreza is shown in Japan. Second place in drivers' championship (Richard Burns) and third place in constructors' championship in World Rally Championship for Subaru
2001: The second generation of the Impreza celebrates its world premiere at the IAA in Frankfurt. In this country, the series is available as a five-door sports station wagon, the four-door sedan mainly as WRX and STI. Richard Burns wins the World Rally Championship for Subaru. The Impreza WRX is only now being introduced in the USA, but with only 169 kW/227 hp. In Europe, a “ProDrive” special model limited to 1.000 units will be presented for the official market launch of the Impreza STI
2002: Second place in the drivers' championship (Petter Solberg) and third place in the constructors' championship in the World Rally Championship for Subaru. The renewed Impreza was chosen by the American magazine "Car and Driver" as one of the ten best novelties of 2002 and 2003
2003: Petter Solberg wins the World Rally Championship for Subaru. A more powerful Impreza WRX STI is introduced in the USA to position the brand in a sportier way. In addition, the Impreza WRX forms the basis for the newly introduced Saab 9-2X Aero
2004: Second place in the drivers' championship (Petter Solberg) and third place in the constructors' championship in the World Rally Championship for Subaru. Sales start for the Saab 9-2X in the USA
2005: New 206 kW/280 hp 2,5-liter turbocharged boxer engine for the WRX STI. Another second place for Subaru in the drivers' championship (Petter Solberg)
2006: Production phase-out of the Impreza sister model Saab 9-2X. Up until 2008, Subaru took third place in the constructors' championship of the World Rally Championship every year
2007: Subaru presents the third Impreza generation at the New York Auto Show. The market launch in Germany will take place in autumn, initially with three engines (1,5-litre, 2,0-litre and 2,0-litre STI petrol engine). Rally legend Colin McRae dies in a helicopter crash. A year later, Subaru fans honor the world champion's memory with a world record when they drive the longest Impreza convoy from McRae's Scottish hometown of Lanark to the headquarters of British rally specialists ProDrive
2008: The Impreza 1.5 RF is now also available in Europe with front-wheel drive. The Impreza debuted at the Paris Salon with the world's first diesel boxer engine. In Europe, the WRX STI draws 221 kW/300 hp from a 2,5-liter cylinder
2009: With a distance of 82 meters, Travis Patrana sets a new world record in the car long jump on New Year's Eve with a WRX STI
2010: Model launch of the Impreza XV in SUV optics
2011: The next Impreza generation makes its debut at the Auto Show in New York, with the European launch taking place two years later. The Subaru XV Concept makes its debut in Shanghai as a harbinger of a crossover version of the next-generation Impreza
2012: German market launch of the Subaru XV. The new, fourth Impreza celebrates its German trade fair premiere at the Leizpiger AMI. 38.590 units of the first three generations were registered in Germany
2013: Twenty years after the first Impreza, the German market launch of the fourth Impreza generation, now as the entry-level model in the Subaru all-wheel drive range
2014: The fourth edition of the Subaru WRX STI is introduced as a four-door, 221 kW/300 hp and 255 km/h fast sedan
2016: In the fifth generation, the Impreza is presented as the first Subaru model on the new Subaru Global Platform. At the same time, the Subaru XV was launched in a new edition
2017: The fifth edition of the Impreza is launched in Germany
2018: The Subaru WRX STI says goodbye with a special model from Germany, stricter emission laws prevent further sales
2020: The Impreza with a 110 kW/150 hp e-boxer engine with mild hybrid technology (12,3 kW electric motor and lithium-ion battery, electric range of up to 1,6 km) has been on sale since spring
2022: The Subaru Impreza celebrates its 30th birthday and gets classic car status in Germany in 2023 as a candidate for an H license plate. Rally specialist Prodrive is celebrating the anniversary with the Impreza WRX STi 22B from 1997 as a restomod at the 2022 Goodwood Festival of Speed

Subaru Impreza, first generation, 4-door or 5-door, with 1,6-liter to 2,0-liter four-cylinder boxer engine (66 kW/90 hp to 85 kW/115 hp),
Subaru Impreza WRX STI, first generation, 4-door or 2-door coupe, with 2,0-liter to 2,2-liter four-cylinder boxer engine (153 kW/208 hp to 206 kW/280 hp) ,
Subaru Impreza, second generation, 4-door or 5-door, with 1,6-liter to 2,0-liter four-cylinder boxer engine (70 kW/95 hp to 92 kW/125 hp),
Subaru Impreza WRX and WRX STI, second generation, 4-door or 5-door, with 2,0-liter to 2,2-liter four-cylinder boxer engine (165 kW/225 hp to 206 kW/280 hp ),
Subaru Impreza, third generation, 4-door or 5-door, with 1,5-liter to 2,0-liter four-cylinder boxer engine (79 kW/107 hp to 110 kW/150 hp) or with 2,0 liter four-cylinder boxer diesel (110 kW/150 hp),
Subaru Impreza WRX STI, third generation, 4-door or 5-door, with 2,5-liter four-cylinder boxer engine (221 kW/300 hp),
Subaru Impreza, fourth generation, 5-door, with 1,6-liter to 2,0-liter four-cylinder boxer engine (84 kW/114 hp to 110 kW/150 hp),
Subaru Impreza WRX STI, fourth generation, 4-door, with 2,5-liter four-cylinder boxer engine (221 kW/300 hp),
Subaru Impreza, fifth generation, 5-door, with 1,6-liter to 2,0-liter four-cylinder e-boxer engine (84 kW/114 hp to 110 kW/150 hp).

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