Subaru is synonymous with rallying, but this is all down to one car, the WRX. It first saw the light of day in Japan in 1993 as the 555 with a turbocharged 2 litre engine putting out 238 brake horsepower, and acceleration of nought to 60 in a very creditable 4.8 seconds. maximum speed on the road was 150 mph so it was no slouch! It very quickly established a reputation racing under World Rally Championships regulations. British rally driver Colin McRae achieved the drivers championship in 1995 and Subaru's team took three manufacturer's titles in all between 1995 and 1997.
By 1994 customers were queueing up to buy the production model, the Impreza WRX. Those with the ambition to have something even more powerful could opt for the STi version; Subaru's own tuning company, Subaru Technica International (hence the STi name) would upgrade both the engine and suspension to give 300 bhp and truly world beating performance; and at a price way below that of any comparable supercars.
One of the reason why hard drivers loved this car was because it was virtually unbreakable. Indeed the depreciation on the WRX is amongst the lowest in the market segment, despite the fact that an awful lot of them have been well thrashed around rally circuits!
This is not to say that this is a perfect car. It isn't. The interior looks cheap, shabby, utilitarian. Just about everything is covered in low quality plastic. You will not buy one of these to impress your boss or a prospective partner. It isn't particularly comfortable either. The back seats are cramped for anyone bigger than a small child. As a cost-cutting measure there isn't even a centre armrest on the back seat. Ventilation in the rear is non-existent and boot space is tiny so forget about taking the family out on a long run!
Take a look at the outside of the car and it is not particularly attractive either; Subaru did make a number of alterations to the appearance but most of them seem to have made things worse rather than better.
However they were not aiming at the luxury market, or at the type of motorist who likes to polish the car in full view the neighbours every Sunday morning. This was designed as a cheap high performance car; a way in which drivers can have a lot of fun without spending money on nonessentials such as comfort! And let's be realistic; who wants a luxurious interior on a car which is likely to be thrashed around muddy country lanes! When it came out it was one of the hottest cars that you could buy, costing way below what any other car with a comparable performance would set you back. It is no wonder that it was the company's best seller at the time.