For about two decades, Subaru and Mitsubishi have locked horns. And while both have built incredible rally cars for the road, the Impreza will always be king. Here’s why…
1. It was Colin McRae’s weapon of choice
Colin McRae was one of the greatest drivers to ever grace tarmac, gravel and snow in the World Rally Championship. He was a hero of mine when I was little, and now he’s inspiring a new generation as his exploits are chopped up into awesome compilations and shared on YouTube. If the Impreza was good enough for this legend, it’s good enough for me.
2. It has an iconic sound
I’m a sucker for something unique, and in that iconic rumble, caused by this Boxer engine’s
unequal length headers, the Impreza has a very individual soundtrack. When an Impreza revs its engine, even part-time petrolheads within earshot will just know that a Scooby is coming into view.
3. It’s more understated
Yeah, there’s something to be said for the crazy styling of the Evo, but I’ve always preferred the subtle approach. Sure, Imprezas are famous for wearing rather shouty rear wings, but remove that and it’ll fly under the radar. It’s got the performance, and that’s all it needs to impress.
4. It has a bonnet scoop
Okay, so I know I said I liked subtlety, but come on… selling a car from the factory with a bloody great bonnet scoop is absolutely brilliant.
5. It has a better culture surrounding it
In the UK at least, you only have to spend five minutes perusing the classifieds to see the massive gulf in price between the Impreza and Evo. As such, almost anyone can afford the Scooby, so they’re much more common and easier to modify.
Exclusivity is cool when you’ve just dropped £1m on a hypercar, but at this level it’s all about finding like-minded people to share your car with. The Impreza is rare enough to be different, without being so exclusive you never bump into other owners.
6. It has its own iconic colour scheme
Throughout the ages, petrolheads have associated cars with colours; Ferraris are red, Jaguars are British Racing Green, and Lamborghinis are yellow. If you can become associated with a colour scheme, you know you’ve made an impact, and with the Mica Blue body work/gold wheels combo, the Impreza has a suitably unique signature paint job.
7. There are loads of cool special editions
From the moment the Impreza became dominant in rally at the hands of Colin McRae, Subaru began building special editions to capitalise on that success. In the UK it kicked off with the Series Colin McRae, but there were countless specials including the RB5, P1 and R205. Perhaps the most iconic of all is the 22B (above), which was built to celebrate Subaru’s 40th anniversary and its third successive WRC title. It’s the perfect blend of super saloon practicality, aggressive stance, and blistering performance, thanks to the 280bhp 2.2-litre engine. So. Much. Want.
8. It still looks badass in hatchback form
Much was made about the WRX ditching its saloon styling (and Impreza moniker) for its third generation, however once all the drama had subsided, every rational petrolhead realised that it still looked great. It’s not as subtle as some of the earlier models, but particularly in STi guise (above), it wears its chunky bodywork well.
9. It has outlived the Evo
Mitsubishi killed off the Evo this year, and it doesn’t look like it’s going to be making a comeback any time soon (though there have been murmurs it could return as a hybrid, god forbid). The WRX STI is still going strong, and when we drove it last year we fell in love with its hooliganistic personality. It’s a whole lot of performance for not a huge amount of cash – sure its interior would’ve been outdated in the 90s, but who cares when you’re having so much fun?