Due to what Subaru call “market dynamics”, the new Impreza WRX STI won’t find a home in a nation that has lapped up its aggressive looks and superior 4WD handling for over two decades.
The rise in fuel prices and its high C02 emissions haven’t exactly helped either, and along with more environmentally friendly competitors such as the Golf R, Subaru are now concentrating on supplying the UK with just the Outback, the XV, and the popular Forester.
Since the early nineties, the WRX and the more powerful STI have given the 4-door saloon market a kick in the backside, with a WRX STI hitting 60 mph in a little over 5 seconds – this was at a time Ferraris were setting mid to late 4 second times. Because of its massive turbocharger and its tuning ability whilst maintaining a good level of reliability, the “modified” scene also adored the Impreza.
One key factor in the Impreza’s huge popularity in the UK came from its massive success in World Rally. The late Colin McRae piloted the almighty Prodrive 555 and helped Subaru gain three consecutive WRC titles, with the Scot winning the driver’s championship in 1995.
In 2001, driving for the 555 team, fellow Scot Richard Burns won the WRC driver’s title in a later model. To celebrate, Subaru released the Impreza RB5, again boosting the Impreza’s popularity in the showrooms.
Other special editions now extremely collectable and pricy are the 22B and P1.
In 1998 Subaru produced the 22B to celebrate their 40th anniversary and their third consecutive WRC manufacturer’s title. The 22B received an engine displacement from 1,994 cc to 2,212 cc, managing to produce 280 hp. The 16” wheels were replaced with 17”, and to help with the power increase, the brakes came from Brembo and the clutch was upgraded with a ceramic disk.
The P1 (Prodrive one) was UK’s answer to counter the boring Japanese grey imports. Subaru UK commissioned Prodrive to produce 1000 coupes in Sonic Blue. The engine power was upped to 276 bhp and the suspension modified for British roads.
Having owned two WRXs, I’m very sad to see this icon disappear from the UK’s roads. They are fast, loud, and appear to have superglue ladled onto their tyres – I’ve never driven anything that handles so well. However, with so many variants built up to 2013, you’ll more than likely hear that distinctive 4-stroke boxer rumble for many years to come.