Subaru Impreza WRX and STI: PH Buying Guide

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:
Rolling Chassis

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Comments (33) Join the discussion on the forum

  • rossub 29 Nov 2015

    Anyone who pays £23k for a GB270 is completely mental! Should be paying half of that.

  • ess 29 Nov 2015

    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 29 Nov 2015

    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 29 Nov 2015

    Please don't try to run an Impreza on 95 ron!

  • Konan 29 Nov 2015

    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).

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