Robert Bowen
Robert Bowen Editor
9/2/20 9:51 a.m.

Back in the mid-1990s, if you had told your average American auto enthusiast that Subaru would soon be known for its performance cars, you’d likely have been laughed out of the room. In the U.S. market at least, Subaru specialized in building quirky front- and all-wheel-drive compact cars that featured conservative styling, flat-four engines and no-frills interiors—hardly the stuff that excited most enthusiasts.

However, Subaru did—and still does—enjoy one of the highest percentages of repeat buyers of any car maker. Back then, this was thanks to Subaru’s popularity among young, educated buyers who lived in the snowbelt and weren’t particularly interested in power or luxury. 

In the late 1990s, the marque’s market changed. Subaru of America added the Impreza 2.5 RS to its lineup for 1998 and gave us a glimpse of what was to come: rally-ready, all-wheel-drive performance. This non-turbo, 2.5-liter Impreza was not particularly fast in a straight line, but it became popular with amateur rally racers and autocrossers. It was torquey, sure-footed and looked the part. 

The 2.5 RS was one of the first Subarus in recent memory to attract widespread attention from enthusiasts, and it did a lot to raise the brand’s profile here in the States. The resulting positive press and customer response clearly set the stage for the later WRX and STI models. Without the RS paving the way, it’s likely Subaru wouldn’t have added the later performance-oriented cars to its American lineup.

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mr2s2000elise
mr2s2000elise SuperDork
9/2/20 9:54 a.m.
Robert Bowen said:

 

Back then, this was thanks to Subaru’s popularity among young, educated buyers ...weren’t particularly interested in power or luxury. 

That was certainly the truth when I traded in my 1981 DL Wagon, on a 1990 4 door Subaru Justy!!!!

Then I realized I was also interested in quality and reliability. After owning 7 of them, from 1981-2016, no more for me. I prefer to own Tier 1 Japanese cars. 

Timely. I bought my 04 WRX wagon in April. I chose to postpone driving it until catching up on deferred maintenance by the PO. I just got it on the road today.

outasite
outasite HalfDork
9/2/20 5:50 p.m.

Back in the early 2000s the family had an 03 and two 04 WRX wagons at the same time. Awesome 2nd and 3rd gear acceleration for the day.

wrex77
wrex77 New Reader
9/2/20 6:26 p.m.

I owned a 2006 WRX premium (leather seats and sunroof) and currently have a 2008 STi. Super fun cars to drive and love the all around capability of the platform. I live in the mountains and have four kids, so it can carry all my kids and fit groceries in the back while screaming around corners.

I second the warning on engines and ringlands and rod knock. Had a ECU pro-tune by Cobb and cat-back exhaust on the STi (which is a minor upgrade) and had cracked ringlands. Was replaced under warranty because at the time there were known issues with the STi ringlands.

Happened again to me a year ago but it made real mess of the engine. 

Decided to ditch the USDM 2.5l and purchased a JDM 2.0 from a 2014 STi in Japan. Similar power, but in a different way if that makes sense.

Added TGV deletes, bigger fuel injectors, catless downpipe.

The redline on the stock JDM STi is 8k (6700 on the USDM STi). My tuner discovered it makes power up to 7600 so we kept the stock redline. It really screams and sounds nothing like a USDM STi anymore.

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