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Subaru Impreza

Published: 10th Jun 2013 - 0 Comments - Be the first, contribute now!

Subaru Impreza
Subaru Impreza
Subaru Impreza

Buyer Beware

The Impreza’s boxer engine is frequently thrashed but can generally take it, so long as the oil is changed with synthetic lube every 7500 miles max, and a new cam belt is fitted every 45,000 miles. If the turbocharger has seen better days there’ll be blue clouds of smoke coming from the exhaust as the engine idles. That’s because the turbo’s seals have worn out, and it’s the thick end of £1000 to fix it.

All UK-bound cars got a five-speed manual ‘box as standard, which is a pretty tough unit but not quite as bullet-proof as the rest of the car. The cogs can get damaged through sheer abuse, which means a full rebuild at a cost of anywhere between £650 and £3000 depending on what’s needed and who does the work. Plus a new clutch at the same time, of course.

The Impreza’s suspension is amazingly durable, when you consider what it has to cope with. But it’s not infallible as the anti-roll bar bushes wear out quite regularly. This is given away by noisy suspension (road noise transmitted through the bodyshell) and wonky handling. It’s worth replacing these bushes once they’ve given up with polyurethane items at £60 per pair, with two needed at each end of the car. Other points to watch for are worn bushes and drop links but it’s all quite routine replacement-wise.

Some of the early cars were fitted with 15-inch wheels and these suffered from porous alloy. Any affected wheels should have been replaced under warranty, but there may be cars that have slipped through the net – check.

Also have a look at what state the tyres are in; if they’ve worn unevenly it’s probably because the wheels have been kerbed. If you’re lucky it may be because just the tracking has been knocked out, but the whole of the suspension may be misaligned. Cheap tyres ruin all Subaru’s good work and are the sign of an uncaring owner…

Although the Impreza’s cornering limits are very high, there’s only so much the car can do if a complete plonker gets behind the wheel. Get an HPI check done (01722 422 422, http://www.hpicheck. com) to check the car’s insurance claim history.

As we always advise with a specialist car, get behind the wheel of a few of the breed to gauge standards and so set a datum. The Scooby may be so far removed to what you are used to that even a complete duffer will feel fantastic!

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Subaru’s Impreza Turbo is the epitome of a practical family-friendly supercar that’s so good Subaru has decided to kill it off! Best buy now advises

Alan Anderson. But only a good one!

Twenty years after launching one of the most laudable practical performance cars ever, Subaru is ditching the Impreza Turbo this summer and we won’t see its likes ever again.

It’s perhaps the most usable fast car ever produced, offering Porsche 911 pace, four-door saloon or five-door estate practicality and the sort of almost dreary reliability that you expect from the Japanese. It’s a car that has the same character as a Cosworth Sierra or Escort and yet make viable daily drivers, too.


Ignoring the ‘specials’ the choice comes down to either a saloon or the odd looking, but versatile, quasi-estate five-door, all bolstered by a handful of limited editions that are worth considering. The Impreza phenomenon began with the Japanese launch of the original car back in 1992, with the WRX and WRX RA topping the range.
Six months later the car made its debut in Europe, although there was no Turbo option (remember this). It was
March 1994 that the first Turbos were exported to the UK, and a year later the first special edition appeared. Named the Series McRae edition, it was launched to celebrate victory in the RAC Rally; 200 were built. Two years later there was another limited edition, called the Catalunya; black painted, air-conditioned with gold five-spoke alloys. Again only 200 were made and they will rise in value the quickest. Late 1996 a facelifted Turbo with an upgraded interior, revised styling and a torquier engine was introduced.

The next revisions came in October 1997, with an upgraded interior and 16” wheels – then in March 1998 came a new dash and the introduction of the Terzo. This came with blue paint, gold alloys, air-con and remote central locking with a claimed 333 made. However, the most exclusive Impreza ever (October 1998) is the Prodrive- modified 22B Type UK. Just 16 of these hot shots were sold in the UK, all with a specially tuned 2.2-litre powerplant that gave 276bhp. In March 1999 what’s known as the Phase II went on sale, featuring revised cylinder heads and 215bhp. Final incarnations of the MkI arrived in April 1999, with the launch of the RB5 limited edition. Named after the late Richard Burns in recognition of his rally success in the car, the RB5 is identified by its metallic grey paint, 17” six-spoke alloys and Alcantara trim. As a mere 444 were built, watch for fakes – not to the level Lotus Cortinas endure but it’s not unknown all the same.

At the same time, a neat two-door was also introduced, called the P1, with 276bhp and special blue paint.
Be warned, there are non-Turbos out there, made from spring ‘93. A range of normally aspirated front-wheel drive only Sports were marketed the UK around the late 1990s. These aren’t the real deal.

You can buy an average Turbo for £2000 or less, but you get what you pay for. Most decent, unmodified and not track thrashed examples are priced from £2500 – and that’s cheap power! Even the best cars fetch nowhere near ten grand. It’s only the rarer PIs, the 22Bs which can make up to £30,000.


It’s a bit of a motoring cliché to say “it rewrote the rule books” but the Impreza Turbo really did. Handling from its all-wheel drive chassis was from another world and the car, if shod with proper tyres befitting the car, just grips and grips faithfully and consistently. Some more press on drivers fit beefier 22mm anti-roll bars to reduce understeer and add better brakes.

Performance from the rather earthy- sounding, quirky ‘boxer’ engine is quite shattering. It’s actually quicker than a Ford Sierra Cosworth even in standard 208bhp guise. It may sound fanciful but in many ways the Impreza is an MX-5 for families. There’s the same no nonsense character about both cars, the same rock-sure durability and usability but the Scooby can do it with all the family and the kitchen sink in the back.


Running an Impreza – properly we mean – can cost a fair amount of bread, like any other super saloon, especially parts and of course good quality tyres don’t come cheap – or last particularly long, especially if you revel in the car’s grippy nature. It’s unlikely that you’ll find an insurer who will cover it as a classic yet, and the Impreza sits in one of the highest groups. Fuel economy on all is around the mid 20s. And all engines prefer the higher octane ‘supergreen’ fuel, or harmful and undetected pinking may occur.


Most cars are going to need some repairs and care by now and even if they don’t, Subaru recommends 7500 mile service intervals and we’d do ‘em sooner.

The bodywork isn’t that well protected against rust and, apart from cosmetic areas, the subframes can also rot through. Engines are commonly fitted with larger intercoolers, dump valves and dash mounted boost control while suspension and brakes are invariably uprated. This is quite unnecessary for most classic fans, unlike a HPI check to verify its history and a good solid service history. Tuned examples are everywhere – in fact it’s harder to find a bog standard model these days. But it is these cars that will be worth the most in years to come.

We Reckon...

Subaru’s decision to kill off the Impreza means that its status as a future classic is assured, which can only mean rising prices for good ones. If the Impreza is your sort of modern classic then start looking now – just don’t try to run one on a shoestring like too many other owners have done...

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