Subaru Impreza Type-R - Vano Mdzeluri

Some aggressive driving in a first generation Subaru Impreza Type-R. Always nice to see these cars used as Subaru intended.

 

Subaru Impreza Type-R - Vano Mdzeluri
Subaru Impreza Type-R - Vano Mdzeluri

 

 

 

 

Subaru Impreza Type-R - Vano Mdzeluri
Subaru Impreza Type-R - Vano Mdzeluri

 

 

The Subaru Impreza is a compact automobile, manufactured since 1992 by Subaru—the automobile division of Japanese transportation conglomerate, Fuji Heavy Industries (FHI). Subaru introduced the Impreza as a replacement for the Leone, with the Leone's EA series engines replaced by the newer EJ series versions.

Now in its fourth generation, Subaru has offered four-door sedan and five-door hatchback body variants since 1992; the firm also offered a coupe from 1995 for the first generation only. Mainstream versions have received naturally aspirated "boxer" flat-four engines ranging from 1.5- to 2.5-liters, with the performance-oriented Impreza WRX and WRX STI models uprated with the addition ofturbochargers. Since the third generation series, some markets have adopted the abbreviated Subaru WRX name for these high-performance variants. The first three generations of Impreza in North America were also available with an off-road appearance package titled Subaru Outback Sport. For the fourth generation, this appearance package became known as the Subaru XV, and is sold internationally.

Subaru has offered both front- and all-wheel drive versions of the Impreza. Since the late-1990s, some markets have restricted sales to the all-wheel drive model—therefore granting the Impreza aunique selling proposition in the global compact class characterized by front-wheel drive. However, Japanese models remain available in either configuration.

 

Introduced on March 1, 1993, the Impreza was offered in either front-wheel drive (FWD) or all-wheel drive (AWD) versions and as a four-door sedan or five-door hatchback. According to a Motor Trendarticle written March 1992 on page 26, the name of Subaru's new compact was, initially, to be called the Loyale, displaying an official photograph of the four-door sedan. In late 1995, a two-doorcoupe was introduced in Japan. The Impreza, like many Subaru-built cars, was equipped with a flat engine, a distinguishing Subaru characteristic. Initial engine choices included 1.6 L, 1.8 L and 2.0 L naturally aspirated engines.

 

Subaru Impreza Type-R
Subaru Impreza Type-R

 

 

Subaru Impreza Type-R
Subaru Impreza Type-R

 

 

Subaru chose to continue their longstanding use of the boxer engine in the Impreza. According to Subaru, their configuration of the engine inline with the transmission minimizes body roll due to the lower center of gravity compared with offset engines in most other vehicles. The boxer design provides good vibration mitigation due to the principles of a balanced engine because the movement of each piston is largely countered by a piston in the opposing cylinder bank, eliminating the need for a counter-rotating weighted crankshaft (harmonic balancer), but with some vibration from offsets.Torque steer is also reduced with this type of powertrain layout since the front drive shafts are of equal length and weight.

 

The Outback Sport was introduced to North America in 1994 for the 1995 model year as an updated Impreza "L" Sport Wagon. It was the top trim level of the Impreza wagon model with no significant mechanical or performance changes from the lower trim levels aside from a slightly lifted suspension. Subaru found some sales success with the Outback Sport as a smaller companion with similar ride height changes, body colors and trim levels to the larger, more successful selling Legacy-based Outback. For the first time the 2.2 engine was used in the American Impreza. Later, the 2.5 engine was introduced. In Japan, the Impreza Sport Wagon was offered with a similar approach to the Outback Sport, calling it the "Impreza Gravel Express" with the WRX turbocharged engine. Subaru discontinued the Gravel Express when the second generation Impreza was introduced due to very limited sales. The hood-scoop found on the American Outback Sport was non-functional but was probably included because the American and Japanese versions were built at the same factory in Japan. The Outback Sport was offered with optional equipment, such as a gauge pack installed on top of the dashboard, that included a digital compass, outside temperature and barometer or altimeter readings.

Trim levels were LX, GL and Sport generation. LX models were front-wheel drive, and powered by a 1.6 L engine; these were four-door only. GL trim levels were either front-wheel drive (Subaru badged these 2WD) or all-wheel-drive (badged AWD); cars launched in 1993 had a choice of 1.6 and 1.8 flat-4engines, the 1.6 being available with 2WD, the 1.8 an AWD version only. From 1996, the 1.6 and 1.8 versions were dropped (in the European market), and replaced by a 2.0 L engine. Sport versions had alloy wheels, and a 2.0 L engine only. These were "warm hatch" versions which were similar to the WRX, albeit less adorned.

During this generation, Subaru made a limited edition Impreza Sport Wagon called the CasaBlanca, which had a retro front and rear end treatment, which was inspired by the popular kei car Subaru Vivio Bistro styling package and Subaru Sambar Dias Classic. The Sport Wagon was also offered with the WRX turbocharged engine, and was called the Gravel Express.

The Impreza received an external facelift for the 1997 model year, followed by an interior redesign in 1998, using the new redesigned dashboard from the Forester.

Subaru of North America initially offered the Impreza with the 1.8-liter engine only, with either front- or all-wheel drive; a 2.2-liter engine became optional for 1995. For the 1995 model year, the 1.8/EJ18 was available with a 5-speed manual or a 4-speed automatic transmission on the 'base' model only. The 2.2/EJ22 was only available with an automatic transmission for the L, LX, and Outback Sport trims. The 1995 model year also introduced OBD-II (On-Board Diagnostics version 2) in the EJ22/Automatic transmission equipped models. The 1996 model line-up replaced the base version with the low-content Brighton trim, also used in the Legacy model. A 5-speed manual transmission became available with the 2.2 engine on all models, except the Brighton which was only available with the 1.8 and a 5-speed. Subaru later decided to emphasize all-wheel drive, making it standard on every Impreza (and Legacy) from 1997 onwards. North American markets never received the WRX version of the first generation Impreza. To test the waters for a full-fledged turbocharged model, Subaru showcased a turbocharged Impreza at various car shows around the country. The vehicle was named the 2.5RX and is now located in Subaru of America's Cherry Hill, New Jersey storage facility. Subsequently the 2.5RS performance model was introduced in 1998 (the same year the 1.8 L engine was dropped). A naturally aspirated 2.5-liter engine and larger brakes were fitted into the coupe body with gold-colored 16-inch five-spoke alloy wheels. The 2.5RS also featured several external cues from its overseas brethren such as hood vents, a hood scoop, and a rally-inspired rear spoiler. The 2.5/EJ25D (DOHC) used in the 1998 RS suffered from a high-rate of head gasket failures. The 1999 model featured several changes: the newly designed "Phase II" SOHC version of the same 2.5 L engine featured a slightly higher peak torque by 5 N·m (3.7 lb·ft), the wheels turned to a standard silver, the interior got an update, and the exterior became visually similar to the Japanese model with an updated front bumper borrowed from the Japanese Version 5 Impreza WRX STI. 2.5RS models became available in sedan form for 2000.

There have been seven noted versions of the WRX dating back from Subaru's original World Rally Cross staging vehicles. Subaru adopted the name "WRX" to stand for "World Rally Cross" as all WRX versions (1992 to present) feature rally inspired technology, including all wheel drive, stiffened suspensions and turbocharged four cylinder engines. The STI versions were marketed with consecutive numbers. Another way to determine the version of a WRX was to look at the chassis code. All WRX sold between 1992 and 2000 have the beginning chassis code of GC8 sedan or GF8 hatchback; this is followed by a letter from A to G. Coupe versions share the "GC" code with sedans, except in the US, where they have a separate chassis code of "GM".

In 1994, Subaru introduced Subaru Tecnica International (STI) versions of the Impreza WRX in Japan. These models were upgraded from the standard WRX in many categories, including blueprinted performance-tuned engines, transmissions, and suspensions. The STI versions of the Impreza were immensely successful in rallies and popular among street racers but were only sold in the Japanese market. Compared to the WRX, the STI had mostly mechanical modifications.

The WRX debuted in November 1992 with 240 PS (176.5 kW; 236.7 hp). The center differential was a viscous coupling type, the rear limited slip differential was a viscous type. The WRX Type RA is a stripped down version of the WRX that was available in the Japanese market for people to purchase for motorsports and tuning. Targeted for race and rally, the RA versions were generally lighter in weight; featuring reduced soundproofing, manual windows, no air conditioning, no anti-lock brakes, and added racing features such as more robust engines, driver controlled center differentials, and shorter gearing. The WRX Type RA uses a closer ratio gearbox and a three-spoke leather steering wheel from Nardi.

In Europe, the WRX was introduced as the Impreza GT, and as the Impreza Turbo 2000 (UK). It came with 208 hp (155 kW; 211 PS). In the United Kingdom, Subaru offered six "WRX 1.8GL" in 1993. The firm imported six Type RS's, the development car that led to the stripped-out Type RA. Three cars went to Prodrive; three were retained by Subaru UK and were subsequently sold. For UK car certification reasons they were registered as "1.8GL", despite having the 2.0-liter turbocharged engine.

In October, 1993, Subaru introduced the 1994 model year WRX which produced 240 PS (176.5 kW; 236.7 hp). The rear rotors were substituted from ventilated disk to solid disk. October 1993 was also the start of production of the hatchback version, with 220 PS (162 kW; 217 hp).

The first STI was known simply as "WRX STI", with 100 per month were produced starting from February 1994. It had 250 PS (184 kW; 247 bhp). This version of the STI was the only version where the standard cars were taken at the end of the assembly line and replaced by STI parts. An STI version of the Type RA was also offered, again with many amenities deleted to reduce weight and cost. Producing 275 PS (202 kW; 271 bhp), this version of the WRX STI came with a Driver Controlled Center Differential (DCCD). This device was an electromechanical differential that could lock the differential.

In November 1994, the WRX had a power increase to 260 PS (191.2 kW; 256.4 hp). The wheel diameters were increased to 16 inches (410 mm) and brake rotors were both changed to ventilated disks. In Japan, the WRX engine was also offered with the hatchback body variant and was called the "Impreza Gravel Express" but was discontinued due to very limited sales.

To commemorate Colin McRae's success in the international rally scene, Subaru in the UK released 200 limited edition "Series McRae" WRXs in June 1995, prepared by Prodrive. These vehicles were finished in a very limited "Rally Blue" colour scheme, sported gold 16-inch alloy wheels, McRae decals, individual numbered badging from 1–201 (car 13 was never built since the number 13 is considered unlucky), and a factory-fitted electric tilt/slide sunroof. Recaro seats were fitted in the front, and the rear seats and side panels were retrimmed in the same Le Mans/Avus material.

The regular STI's engine output stood at 275 PS (202 kW; 271 bhp). The car weighed 1,240 kg (2,734 lb) and had gold wheels like those on the World Rally Championship Impreza. Now, the STI was built alongside the WRX on the production lines.

The 1996 model year WRX debuted in January 1996. The WRX design received minimal mechanical changes, but a WRX V-Limited Edition was introduced to celebrate the success of the Impreza WRC car in the FIA WRC. It was mechanically the same to the WRX but had a curb weight nudge to 1,240 kg (2,734 lb). The V-limited cars are painted in World Rally Blue. A WRX STI V-limited edition was also produced. The interior is colored blue on the seat inserts and carpeting. The WRX Type RA STI received a radio and air-conditioning in the V-limited form. 1,000 WRX STI Version 2 V-limited were produced, with 555 WRX Type RA STI Version 2 V-limited models produced.

In September 1996, the WRX was updated with new styling. The WRX now has a power rating of 280 PS (206 kW; 276 hp) and now weighed 1,250 kg (2,756 lb). Although it actually developed about 300 PS, the output was under-reported at the then-established gentlemen's agreement power limit of 280 PS.

Subaru in the UK released the WRX "Catalunya" in March 1997, a limited production of 200 cars (again excluding car number 13) in black with red flecks riding on gold alloy wheels. The Catalunya was made to celebrate winning Subaru's second WRC manufacturer's title at the Rally of Spain (Catalunya).

With GC8D came the start of the coupé version of the WRX STI. It is called the WRX Type R STI. The coupé was chosen by Prodrive for use in the WRC because it was lighter and stiffer than the sedan, although it carried the same exterior dimensions. It was essentially a two-door version of the WRX Type RA STI meaning it had DCCD, minimal sound insulation, close-gear ratios and hardened gearbox. This car also has a water-spray nozzle to dampen the top of the intercooler. The water will then evaporate, taking heat away from the intercooler and cooling the intake charge. This car was produced on an order-only basis. Also, there was a WRX STI type RA (sedan) available, with a roof vent instead of map lights, and wind up windows, although electrics are an option from factory.

Also available was a WRX Type R V-limited. It has a WRX motor with no forged internals like the STI, and it misses out on the four-pot front brakes as they are to be installed by rally teams. It has a roof vent and is lightweight, making a good base for a rally car.

In Europe, the Subaru Impreza WRX GT's (Turbo 2000 in UK) interior was updated to leather. For the STI, power remained at 280 PS. Forged pistons were also added. The interior and the cockpit were changed into a newer design along with the new white colored gauges.

For the UK, the WRZ "Turbo Terzo" was released in April 1998. 333 cars in blue with gold alloy wheels were produced to celebrate Subaru's WRC title.

In 1998, Subaru of Japan produced a widebody, coupe WRX STI called the "22B STI" produced between March and August 1998. The 22B was used to commemorate both Subaru's 40th anniversary as well as the third consecutive manufacturer's title for Subaru in the FIA World Rally Championship. On the release of the sales, all 400 Japanese units sold out from 30 minutes to 48 hours, depending on the report. Another 24 were produced for export markets—16 for the UK, along with another 5 for Australia, and 3 prototypes. The 16 cars imported to the UK were modified by Prodrive, with longer gear ratios, and UK specification lights. Because 50 22Bs had already been imported privately into the UK, Subaru had to wait until 1999 to register the 16 officially imported cars under the VCA's Single Vehicle Approval scheme.

The 22B had the EJ22 engine (note, the internal Subaru material states the closed-deck block comes from a V3 EJ20G). This means the displacement was increased from 1,994 cc to 2,212 cc. It produced 280 PS (210 kW; 280 hp). This car was given a unique color of blue and had fender flared widebody taken from the Peter Stevens designed WRC car, thus widening the width by 80 mm (3.15 inches). The car has a unique hood, front and rear fenders, a WRC-inspired front bumper and a unique adjustable rear wing. During assembly, a WRX Type R chassis was taken off the line. The fenders were replaced with the 22B STI fenders. The suspension is provided by Bilstein, while the brakes were Brembo manufactured painted red. The wheels were increased in size from the standard WRX Type R STI from 16- to 17-inches and the clutch was upgraded to a sintered twin clutch with a ceramic disk. The origin of the name 22B has often been debated. Many assume 22 referred to the 2.2 liter displacement and the B was for the Bilstein suspension. This would correlate with the idea that Subaru sells a Legacy Spec B, where the B represents the Bilstein suspension. The car's curb weight is 1,270 kilograms (2,800 lb).

Mechanically this was virtually the same as its predecessor. The torque was increased a little from 242 to 250 lb·ft (328 to 339 N·m) at 4000 rpm. The weight also continues to increase and is set at 1,300 kg (2,800 lb).

To celebrate the return of British driver Richard Burns to the rally team, a limited edition of 444 WRX "RB5" models in gray were created in 1999 for the UK. The basic model had little more than cosmetic differences, but most had the WR Sport Performance Pack, an option consisting of a new ECU and exhaust for 240 PS (177 kW; 237 hp) and 350 N·m (258 lb·ft) torque. There was also an optional Prodrivesuspension pack.

The standard UK Impreza Turbo 2000 was also tuned and partly restyled by Prodrive in 1999 to create the WRX "Prodrive WR Sport". It featured a unique interior, suspension upgrade, new bodykit and wheels, plus WR Sport decals and an optional ECU upgrade.

For the STI, the power stayed the same as the previous version but the engine layout and design was made cleaner and was dubbed as the "Boxer Phase 2" engine. The facelift the rest of the Impreza line had was also applied to the STI. The WRX STI weighed 1,270 kg (2,800 lb). There were 1000 WRX Type RA STI Version 5 Limited cars and each had a four-month waiting period. The interior was also changed slightly, including seats and steering. This model was also produced as a 555 limited edition.

The last version of the GC WRX was introduced on September 1999. There is no change in the mechanical specifications. Added features are newly designed alloy wheels, color-coded mirrors and door handles, remote central locking, intermittent wipers with a timer and map lights.

The European WRX turbo model received further upgrades in the form of more parts from the STI range. The front brakes became Subaru branded four-pot calipers with 294 mm (11.6 in) discs, the wheels having become 16-inch lightweight alloys. The STI 4 high-level wing was fitted to the sedan, and STI-style front bucket seats and firmer suspension were also fitted. The "Phase 2" engine now fitted developed 160 kW (218 PS; 215 bhp), an increase of 5 kW (7 PS; 7 bhp) over the previous model.

To counter the grey imports of high-performance Japanese variants, Subaru UK commissioned Prodrive to produce a limited edition of 1,000 two-door cars in Sonic Blue, called the WRX "P1". Released in March 2000, they were taken from the STI Type R lines and used for the P1. The car was the only coupé version of the WRX STI GC chassis to receive ABS. In order to allow for ABS, the DCCD was dropped. Engine output was boosted to 276 bhp (206 kW; 280 PS), and the suspension optimised for British roads. Options were available from Subaru consisting of four-piston front brake calipers, electricRecaro seats, 18-inch wheels and a P1 stamped backbox. The P1, or Prodrive One, is echoed in the name of the Prodrive P2 concept car.

Likewise, for the STI, most of the changes were cosmetic with the fender being sculpted to be more aggressive. There were 2,000 WRX STI Version 6 Limited model produced, plus 500 of the WRX STI Type R coupe Version 6 Limited, 2,000 of the WRX STI RA Version 6 Limited, and also 500 of the WRX STI Version 6 Limited hatchback models.

In 2000, STI released the WRX STI "S201", of which 300 were produced. This series is a limited production series that sports an engine output of 224 kW (305 PS) as special variants were excluded from the gentlemen's agreement. The car was decked with nearly every single part from the STI catalogue. The S201 was a sedan that sported the only body-kitted S-series WRX STI. Weighing in at 1,270 kg (2,800 lb), the S201 had a tri-planar wing and a massive front airsplitter. The entire suspension was composed of STI parts.

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