RE: Subaru Impreza WRX and STI: PH Buying Guide

RE: Subaru Impreza WRX and STI: PH Buying Guide

Sunday 29th November 2015

Subaru Impreza WRX and STI: PH Buying Guide

Want a 'proper' four-door or wagon Impreza but want something more modern than the classic? Here's the answer!



Replacing an icon is never an easy task for any car company and Subaru had the expectations of the whole world to deal with when it came to swapping the original Impreza Turbo 2000 for the new WRX model. The original had defined the performance car of the 1990s, won World Rally Championship titles and become synonymous with Colin McRae to the delight of fans and Subaru dealers.

Bugeye look didn't win many friends
Bugeye look didn't win many friends
At the peak of its sales success, the first Impreza Turbo 2000 accounted for 35 per cent of all cars sold by Subaru in the UK. So, it was with a mixture of anticipation and horror when the first new second generation Impreza WRX was unveiled.

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Yes, the four-wheel drive, 'Boxer' flat-four engine and boxy saloon shape were all still there, but so were a pair of googly 'Bugeye' headlights. If the original Impreza had been a slightly bland car made good with functional addenda for the performance versions, the Bugeye was just, well, a bit ugly.

Subaru cottoned on to this as fast as it could and a hasty restyle for the start of 2003 introduced a more normal headlight style that quickly became known as the Blobeye. More power also joined the fray at the same time for the standard WRX, going from 218hp to 225hp. The STI had 265hp until the 'Hawkeye' facelift of November 2005 raised that to 280hp, while a UK-only special edition RB320 came with 320hp.

Third time lucky - the final 'Hawkeye' design
Third time lucky - the final 'Hawkeye' design
The final hurrah for the Impreza saloon and Sports Wagon estate was the GB270 that came with Β£7,600 of extra equipment, including the Prodrive Performance Pack that was always a popular option to upgrade power and performance of the standard WRX. Only 300 saloon and 100 Sports Wagon GB270s were made for the UK.

The GB270 remains one of the most expensive second generation Impreza WRX models, with prices for low mileage pampered versions as high as Β£23,000. At the other end of the scale, an early Bugeye WRX in standard trim starts at around Β£3,000 for reasonable condition cars, while an early STI costs from approximately Β£6000.

Second-gen Impreza at a glance:
2000-2002 WRX, 218hp (225 from 2003-on), 0-62mph 5.7 seconds, 140mph
2001 WRX UK300, 245hp, 0-62mph 5.5 seconds, 143mph
2002-2005 WRX STI Type UK, 265hp, 0-62mph 5.2 seconds, 152mph
2004 WR1 special edition, 325hp, 0-62mph 4.3 seconds, 155mph
2006 RB320, 320hp, 0-62mph in 4.8 seconds, 150mph
2006-2007 WRX, 230hp, 0-62mph 5.4 seconds, 140mph
2006-2007 WRX STI, 280hp, 0-62mph 5.0 seconds, 158mph
2007 GB270, 270hp, 0-62mph 5.2 seconds, 143mph


PHer's view:
"I'd recommend a 2.0L WRX wagon with the factory PPP kit. They are becoming hard to get a good one now, but well worth searching out."
Mark McDonald


Buying Guide Contents:
Introduction
Powertrain
Rolling Chassis
Body
Interior

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Author
Discussion

rossub

Original Poster:

2,537 posts

139 months

Sunday 29th November 2015
quotequote all
Anyone who pays £23k for a GB270 is completely mental! Should be paying half of that.

ess

577 posts

127 months

Sunday 29th November 2015
quotequote all
I'm onto my second Hawkeye WRX wagon, both PPP.
The first one purchased new in 2007 just as the hatchbacks came out. Served me well whilst in Norway, specifically in winter on decent Nokian non-studded rubber.



Bad parking thread contender, I realise.

The second I picked up recently as a winter hack. Red SL model with heated leather and sunroof.
Bit tatty in places, but goes well enough and looks nice on the Prodrive alloys.
Great little wagons; wouldn't win any beauty contests though.
Well received by EVO mag when they had a long termer in 2006.



Edited by ess on Sunday 29th November 16:23

jontbone

212 posts

168 months

Sunday 29th November 2015
quotequote all
Still regret selling my 05 WRX STI PPP, incredible performance for the money. We had 2 kids in quick succession and then the recession hit and that was that. Maybe one day I'll have another, but I tend not to go for the same flavour twice no matter how much enjoyment I had.
Still, never say never...

Kosy

75 posts

110 months

Sunday 29th November 2015
quotequote all
Please don't try to run an Impreza on 95 ron!

Konan

1,390 posts

95 months

Sunday 29th November 2015
quotequote all
You guys mention Camskill for replacement shocks. They no longer do 'parts' - just tyres. Really annoying as they were by far the most straight forward when it came to getting the right bits!

Other people sell KYB but their sites frequently list the incorrect part for the car, to the point they'll list Saloon parts for the Wagon. On top of this, I *think* there are 3 distinct types of rear shock. Two non-inverted types, but you need the later ones (and bump stop, as mentioned) if you're going to fit them to an 05 onward car as the top mount changed.

Best go to the KYB catalogue and Google exact part numbers now.

Or go to Subaru for a giggle over what their OEM prices are (I think KYB are the OEM anyway).

kin quick

201 posts

160 months

Sunday 29th November 2015
quotequote all
Nothing wrong with a 'fugly' Bugeye WRX, plenty of parts to make them look better, had mine for 7 1/2 years from new, only parts that failed in 98k miles was a coil pack and wheel bearing, loved it!



I now have the 'pretty' Hawkeye, it's got a sunroof and everything!



Yes they are a bit 'chav' but once they get in your system, it's quite difficult to move on to pastures new.



Ikemi

8,014 posts

154 months

Monday 30th November 2015
quotequote all
kin quick said:
Nothing wrong with a 'fugly' Bugeye WRX, plenty of parts to make them look better ...

This is true. However I can't help but laugh, seeing as you've chosen a really dark picture to show off yours! hehe

Looks nice though, from what I can see!

R66STU

271 posts

125 months

Monday 30th November 2015
quotequote all
So true, the comment about these cars getting in your blood.. I loved them as a youngster, now we have one, and i cant see us being without an imprezza. Its the only performance family able car that me and the missus both agree on. smile

Over over under steer

418 posts

72 months

Monday 30th November 2015
quotequote all
Honestly, this couldn't have come at a better time. Thanks PH

ColinM

157 posts

204 months

Monday 30th November 2015
quotequote all
The flat four engine sounds fantastic. Personally I like the look of the Hawkeye version the best but then I am biased -



You can find this in the classified if interested.

JMF894

2,986 posts

104 months

Monday 30th November 2015
quotequote all
ColinM said:
The flat four engine sounds fantastic. Personally I like the look of the Hawkeye version the best but then I am biased -



You can find this in the classified if interested.
That looks really smart matey

Jimbo

PorkRind

3,005 posts

154 months

Monday 30th November 2015
quotequote all
I was tempted to get a Subaru, but then I drove an evo and my mind was made up !

Ved

3,822 posts

124 months

Monday 30th November 2015
quotequote all
My 10p based on the STI variants of the blobeye and hawkeye

Powertrain
Engines are two options EJ20 up to 2005 and EJ25 from 2006 to the present day. The former is very strong up to around 320bhp and will give little to no issues for the vast majority of owners. Full history with regular oil changes is a must to keep it healthy. I sold mine with 96k on it with zero problems whatsoever and for half if its life it had roughly 330bhp through it. It needs to be worked but the rush at 3500rpm is well worth the effort and it will not tail off as it climbs.

The EJ25 has a long running issues of head gaskets (mainly the early 2006 Hawkeyes) which can and should be fixed at some point with a better one. The pistons (ring lands specifically) are very much hit and miss. I put 50k on my Hawkeye with zero issues but a look at the last MOT it had showed it'd been off the road from 76k. Not sure why but I would not buy an EJ25 without it either being very cheap or forged. An engine rebuild is not a bad thing to see on an advert and doesn't mean it's been mistreated. Just make sure all the receipts are present. However.... the EJ25 is by far the best for every day driving thanks to the greater torque and in terms of remaps 400lbs or torque is very easy to get to for very little money.

Gearbox is utterly bombproof but the clutch will need upgrading after the 300bhp barrier is breached in both cases although it's always dependent on how it's driven.

Rolling Chassis
Blob eyes fell between the chassis changes with the wider track that continued into the hawkeye. This came in at the same time as the DCCD and the later interior so is worth the extra money as it keeps the best engine with the best chassis. Rear struts will start to knock on both varietnts (and go back to the bug eyes) and although it doesn't really hurt the car or the way it drives getting them changed is a good idea. The way to tell is to come to a halt and listen (and feel) a tiny knock from the rear.

Tyres are a huge part of the car and I found no better than Bridgestone RE070s.

Body
Never had any issue with mine other than some peeling and cracking paint on the blobeye bumper and the usual age related marks. Rust should not appear anywhere but the wheels will corrode especially around the centre caps.

Interior
The hawkeye and late blobeye cars have the best dash and materials but the seats in the hawk eye are awful thanks to the extra airbags. The 55 plate blobs are by far the best seats of any Subaru and are well worth the wait to find a good one. The stereos are always crap but generally the speakers, at least in the hawkeyes, are just fine with a better headunit to feed them.

Edited by Ved on Monday 30th November 12:09

TroubledSoul

4,298 posts

143 months

Monday 30th November 2015
quotequote all
I never wanted an Impreza. I was into MR2 Turbos.

Then I bought one as a cheapo winter hack for tip runs and commuting and that was it.









4 in now and no signs of leaving the fold. The best part is the Mrs loves them possibly even more than I do!

Daston

5,612 posts

152 months

Monday 30th November 2015
quotequote all
I will be chopping the MG in within the next 5 years and the thought of a hatchback STI did spring to mind. I then looked at the prices people are asking! I would want one with low miles but some are nearly at Audi S5/S3 prices! plus at that price bracket other interesting things start to open up like Jag XFR's (OK with a lot more miles tbf).

Is £15-18k the norm or are these just dealers who are trying it on a bit? I was expecting £10 - 12k tops.

MikeGoodwin

1,560 posts

66 months

Monday 30th November 2015
quotequote all
Really want a hatch next year as a toy to tinker with. But it would be my only car and the Mrs literally hates them.

Daston

5,612 posts

152 months

Monday 30th November 2015
quotequote all
KimJongHealthy said:
- S3 has only 3 doors and haldex.
- S5 weights 1800kg.
- XFR weights 1900kg and comes with auto gearbox.


None of those cars was designed to go sideways on a bumpy and wet B road, comparing apples to pears..

Edited by KimJongHealthy on Monday 30th November 13:08
True but my reasoning was 2 of them are from what is seen as a premium german brand so prices are always higher than what you expect. The other is a luxury saloon with 450+ bhp. I just expected the STI's to be a little lower in the price bracket as Jap stuff nearly always depreciate pretty badly, or have prices started to climb a little.


st3ven1

139 posts

156 months

Monday 30th November 2015
quotequote all
Bought my blobeye widetrack STI at the beginning of the summer and agree with what's being said, they are superb cars. I'd also suggest a 2.0 widetrack STI won't lose any money going forward. There is a sweet spot just before the 2.5's come in and before the top VED rate applies.

I think the 2.5's put people off, and reading several owners club threads, it would suggest it's more of a case of 'when' rather than 'if'. Yes there are examples of 2.5's with 100k+ but there are also examples of standard cars letting go well before 50k. I discounted the 2.5's as fear got the better of me, and the thought of an engine rebuild could seriously sour a ownership experience.


KarlMac

3,055 posts

90 months

Monday 30th November 2015
quotequote all
Loved my ugly bug. Type UK STI with a few basic mods to get it around 330bhp with some choice handling mods.



I'll have another at some point, almost certainly a JDM hawkeye with the 2.0 litre motor

kin quick

201 posts

160 months

Monday 30th November 2015
quotequote all
Ikemi said:
kin quick said:
Nothing wrong with a 'fugly' Bugeye WRX, plenty of parts to make them look better ...

This is true. However I can't help but laugh, seeing as you've chosen a really dark picture to show off yours! hehe

Looks nice though, from what I can see!
Lol, I didn't even think of that, I just like the picture, hopefully this one is better showing how practical it is




About the engine, the better of the two is definitely the 2.0 unless you can find a 2.5 that has already been forged (quite common now days!). The last of the Blobeyes are regarded as the best UK newage due to being wide track, DCCD and retaining the 2.0 engine.

Either that or do what I did and go for a JDM import, they come with a breathed on 2.0l with a twin scroll turbo, more aggressive cams, free'er flowing heads and loads of other nice bits, you loose the 'Scooby burble' but in return you get virtually no turbo lag and a car with aggressive acceleration through all 6 gears.

Adding to that, there are also lots of JDM variants such as the Spec C, Spec C RA, Spec C RAR, S202, S203 etc.. which are all built with the aim of being turned into track and rally cars, they all come with quicker steering racks, lots of suspension goodies and the 2.0 twin scroll, which from my experience of owning a Spec C for the last five years, is AWESOME!!


Edited by kin quick on Monday 30th November 18:19