THE Subaru Impreza has been around as early as 1992. Many people won’t remember the plain vanilla versions but instead remember the burble emanating from the WRC-inspired WRX and STI variants. We recently had a go in the latest WRX and decided to recap our favourite WRX/STI models (and there’ve been many) from each of the four generations.
22B: The first generation Subaru WRX set the tone for the future of turbocharged performance cars. We often write about smaller 1.6 and 2.0-litre engines becoming the performance staple but Subaru has been doing it for almost three decades already. It might sound obvious but our favourite model from gen one is the 22B which was launched in 1998. We didn’t get any of the 424 22B’s built locally, however, of the 400 which stayed in Japan, several were exported.
There are rumours of one lurking around the streets of South Africa, so here’s hoping. The car is special because not only did it have a larger 2.2-litre turbocharged engine (hence the ’22’) anda Bilstein suspension (hence the ‘B’), it also commemorated the brand’s WRC success and its 40th anniversary. In 1998, 210kW in a car that weighed less than 1 300kg made for something seriously rapid, even by today’s standards the 22B would be considered a quick car.
Bug-eye: The second generation WRX/STI was a difficult feat for Subaru to pull off following the iconic first generation. From a styling perspective the new car was far removed from its predecessor as Subaru entered into the new millennium. Its rounded front and light design has seen it being called the bug-eye by many enthusiasts the world over. This generation’s STI variant got a beefier 2.5-litre turbo four-cylinder while the WRX retain its 2.0-litre displacement. Our favourite ‘bug-eye’ model has to be the wagon STI.
Blob-eye: Within the second generation there were no less than two facelifts of the same model. In 2002 we saw the facelift which many Scooby fans believed it to be a massive improvement over the bug-eye; it became affectionately known as the blob-eye.
We are massive fans of the STI sedan from this era, not only did it look great but it also took the fight straight to the Mitsubishi Evolution VIII of the time. The 2005 facelift of the blob-eye was called the hawk-eye by many and saw the WRX gain a 2.5-litre turbo four-cylinder like its STI sibling. The hawk-eye was a great car with improved handling and dynamics but it simply failed to capture us the way its predecessors did.
Stink-eye: Fast forward a few years and things changed dramatically for the WRX/STI family as the Japanese brand decided that its performance saloon needed to become a performance hatchback instead. The vehicle that followed has become known as the stink-eye by enthusiasts and for good reason. We are really not fond of the idea let alone the execution of a WRX STI hatchback. Thankfully there was a booted version launched around 2010 which transformed the Scooby into something we really loved. The STI was even available with a massive boot spoiler again, bliss we tell you...
Raptor-eye: Now on to the WRX that was recently launched here. We decided to include it over the STI after we heard that the STI retains the same 2.5-litre turbocharged motor as its predecessor. Admittedly we are yet to drive the new STI and might change our minds soon.
However, we were blown away by the new WRX which doesn’t have a name yet but a quick trolling session around the net revealed evo-eye as a potential name. We don’t necessarily agree with the name as we’re sure Subaru owners, Evo owners and Subaru themselves will take offence. For now, let’s just say the new WRX is more frugal, more fun and more Subaru than we had expected; it deserves to be on this list.
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