Subaru has long been known for building some of the most capable and versatile vehicles in the world. If you’re planning on doing some rally driving, chances are Subaru has been near the top of the list of vehicles to check out. Popular models like the Impreza, Forester, and Outback have long been favorites of outdoors enthusiasts, and every year their cars get more reliable and lively.
The Japanese company has long been known for producing fantastic, rally-inspired, performance-oriented vehicles to add to their pedestrian line-up. While it may not have production vehicles that can keep up with something like a Corvette Z06, this smaller automaker does still hold the advantage in the all-wheel drive performance car department.
Today we will focus on acceleration times from 0-60 for rankings, since most of the company’s cars are governed to specific top speeds with electronic limiters. Naturally we have excluded concept models, one-offs, and heavily-modified aftermarket builds from the list in order to keep it “production vehicle specific,” and since certain models like the WRX STI ts Type RA and the Legacy Turbo models from the early 1990s did not have reliable performance statistics available, they were omitted from the list.
*Editors’ Note: this article has been updated to address some factual errors that were present in the prior version. We appreciate our readers’ diligence, and thank them for pointing it out to us.
15. Subaru Baja Turbo
Remember the Baja? The short-lived Subaru that hearkened back to memories of the Chevy El Camino or Subaru’s very own Brat? Well, it wasn’t just known for its awkward appearance, as the turbo version actually had quite a bit of jump to it, and could make the sprint from zero to 60 miles-per hour in 7.3 seconds with a manual gearbox. The Baja Turbo was limited to a top speed of 130 miles-per hour, and produced 210 horsepower from a 2.5-liter turbocharged flat-4 engine. Ugly never looked so good…
14. Subaru SVX
Digging way back into the archives for some performance data, you will stumble upon an oddball Subaru bearing a badge that says “SVX.” Hitting sixty in 7.3 seconds and a top speed of 143 miles per hour, the SVX was a true Grand Touring (GT) car, and while it only came in automatic (which was prone to overheating), it did come equipped with a 3.3-liter flat-six engine, and rocked all 230 horsepower and 224 pound-feet of torque all the way to redline. With its wind-defusing side windows, funky interior styling, and undeniably Lancer-ish lines, this car was the quintessential 90s vehicle.
13. Subaru Legacy 3.6R
Of all the Legacy models that have hit the market over the years, the 3.6R is one of the easiest to overlook, as it looked just like a regular Legacy and was not aggressively styled at all. And yet it remains one of the quickest models Subaru has ever produced, with its 3.6-liter flat-6 engine hitting 0-60 times in 7.1 seconds. The odd part was that this model only kicked out 256 ponies, which is strange, since certain four-cylinder Legacy models produced even more power.
12. Subaru BRZ
One of the newest additions to the Subaru lineup, the BRZ breaks the monotony of the company’s classic designs by bringing a rear-wheel drive platform to the streets. Despite its sporty appearance, it fails to even crack the top ten of Subaru’s fastest models, since testing showed the BRZ made the trip from 0-60 in 6.4 seconds courtesy of 200 horsepower. As the BRZ evolves in coming years, performance numbers will surely improve, but for now, it only makes it up to the number twelve on our list today.
11. Subaru Legacy 2.5 GT Limited
Another Legacy model to add to the list, the Legacy 2.5 GT Limited bested the much larger 3.6R flat-six by quite a bit, as it shared a lot of genetic make-up with the mighty STI. Making the trip from 0-60 in 5.8 seconds, the 2.5 GT Limited used a turbocharged flat-4 engine, was available with a manual transmission, and was limited to an overall top speed of 150 miles per hour. With 265 horsepower, and 258 pound-feet worth of torque this version of the Legacy was a real surprise win for performance seekers, and if you re fortunate enough to find a Legacy GT wagon somewhere with a clutch, buy it, because that is a high-powered unicorn right there.
10. Subaru Impreza WRX Sport Wagon
How do you improve on the WRX base model? Turn it into a wagon, of course! Although it’s no longer in production, the WRX Sport Wagon was a lean and mean rally machine that could jet past the original WRX back in the day as it hit sixty in 5.8 seconds. Now, more than a decade after it first hit American shores, the Sport Wagon is officially defunct. But when it was around, the WRX Sport Wagon’s turbocharged flat-4, made 227 horsepower and conjured up 217 pound-feet of torque, which was more than enough for a trip to soccer practice.
9. Subaru Legacy GT spec.B
Subaru only made 500 Legacy GT spec.B sedans, they cost quite a lot for what you got, and they were only available in one color: dark silver. They also shared the same 250-horsepower powerplant with the previously mentioned Legacy GT version, and according to Car and Driver, it had a navigation system that cost $1,200 more than the identical one drivers found in the normal GT model. But it did have better suspension, bigger brakes, wider wheels, and was able to fly to 60 miles per hour from a standstill in 5.3 seconds for some reason. And while some may attribute these gains to the spec.B’s fatter wheels and increased grip, we relish in the fact that it was only made available with a six-speed manual gearbox and had one super slick limited edition interior.
8. Subaru Forester 2.5 XT
It’s pretty wild to think that a Forester model can outperform everything you have seen thus far, but at least on paper it’s true. The Forester 2.5 XT was the variant to consider too, as it was able to hit 60 miles-per hour in just 5.2 seconds courtesy of its 4.44 gearing. With its turbocharged 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine producing 250 horsepower, this car is still a great sleeper option for anyone looking for an unassuming around town ass-kicker.
7. Subaru WRX
Here’s the model everyone has been waiting for, the storied WRX. Long a favorite of daily-driven enthusiasts and rally drivers alike, the WRX has seen numerous incarnations over the years, and the base model is still able to hold its own in the top ten of Subaru’s fastest. The newest 2015 WRX can jet from 0-60 in 5.2 seconds according to Car and Driver, utilizes a 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine, and makes around 268 horsepower in base trim. And while it often gets overshadowed by its bigger twin, the STI, there is no arguing with the price point of one of these little cars, and how good they have become.
6. Subaru WRX STI
A glance at the picture above accurately summarizes the experience of driving the WRX STI. This suped-up version of the WRX is capable of hitting the 160 miles per hour mark, along with quickly sprinting from 0-60 in 4.8 seconds according to Road & Track’s test results. The STI offers the DNA of a rally car, with the practicality of an every-day vehicle, and while the WRX base model offers more or less the same experience,the STI and its half-liter larger engine cranks the fun up to frenzied as you confidently rocket through snow, mud, tarmac, and treacherous terrain.
5. Subaru Impreza 330S
The Impreza 330S is not one of the company’s more well-known models, but it sure does have some impressive performance stats. The 330S blasted from rest to 60 in 4.8 seconds, and used a beefed-up 2.5-liter turbo flat-four that created 325 horsepower and 347 pound-feet of torque, which are not small numbers by any measure. As the five-door hatch combined a six-speed manual gearbox with Subaru’s symmetrical all-wheel drive system, this British specialty version of the Impreza made for one of the best Subaru models ever built.
4. Subaru WRX Special Edition
Perhaps the most “specialized” variant of the WRX to ever see release was a Special Edition. With its signature “Punkin Orange” color and blistering acceleration speed of 4.7 seconds to sixty, this decal-laden tangerine dream was a highly coveted machine when it first came out. Built with a wider body and bigger, blacker wheels, this limited run offering was a real beast on and off the track.
3. Subaru Impreza 22B STI
“The Subaru from hell” as Car and Driver so eloquently puts it, was a 4.7 second car that put up startling numbers for something that looked so dated. Rocking the boxy, early 1990s look, the 22B STI was only made in a batch of 424 cars, and was designed to commemorate Subaru’s 40th anniversary. Limited to an overall top speed of 144 miles-per hour, and rocking an unorthodox 2.2-liters of engine displacement, this obscurity rode its 280 horsepower motor all the way to infamy.
2. Subaru WRX STI S206
Somehow Subaru engineers keep topping themselves with WRX variations, and the WRX STI S206 is one of the best. While most Americans remain unaware of its existence, the Japan-exclusive neck-snapper has been ratcheted-up to 316 horsepower, and makes sixty look slow in just 4.5 seconds. Couple this with 318 pound-feet of torque and some serious “JDM swag,” and suddenly you’ve got a car that is designed to make any high school ricer drool.
1. Subaru WR1
The WR1 may be similar in looks to most of its milder brethren, but it is extremely advanced in the performance department. Producings 342 horsepower from a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine is no easy feat, and Subaru got this little demon to hit a top speed of 155 miles-per hour without issue. Zero to 60 was timed out at 4.3 seconds, and since the WR1 was a limited-run reproduction of a Subaru rally car, many people cried foul over its price and rarity. Originally used to win rally championships in its hayday, this car serves its purpose here today as the fastest production car Subaru ever turned out.