Subaru Impreza WRX PPP Estate: PH Carpool

Name: Paul Kelly (username 150bhp)
Car: Subaru Impreza WRX Wagon PPP (Blobeye)
Owned since: June 2015
Previously owned: Renault 19 Phase 2, Vauxhall Corsa GSI, Ford Fiesta XR2, Ford Escort RS Turbo Series 2, Fiat Punto Sporting, Renault Clio 172 Phase 2, Vauxhall Vectra SRi (hateful car!), Audi A4 1.8T Sport B5 (bought for £845 and sold three years later for £800!), Audi S4 Avant (B5), currently also own a Vauxhall Vivaro Sporting for my business and my wife has a Mini Countryman.

Why I bought it:
"I've always liked a fast estate despite only actually owning one previous to this - the S4 Avant - so after selling that and only using my van for a few weeks, I decided I needed a new weekend toy and it had to be of the wagon variety! I hadn't planned on buying an Impreza but this popped up a few miles from where we live in Glasgow; as it was a Wagon and I'd never owned a Subaru, I thought it worth a look. It had the factory fitted Prodrive Performance Pack that takes it from 225hp to 265hp and the only mods were the alloys (although these may have been an option when new?) and an atmospheric dump valve.

"It's fair to say it looked better in the pictures! The Prodrive P7 alloys were a mess and badly corroded, but this wasn't too big a concern as they'd be getting refurbished from the original gold colour to silver, the bodywork was solid with no rusty arches (although it had had a new driver side wing at some point) and the rear boot spoiler had pitted paintwork. The test drive confirmed mechanically it was sound and although a totally different beast to the S4 I was hooked! It's very old school in its power delivery with a fair bit of lag but once it reaches 3k rpm and the boost kicks in it just goes! A deal was done to include the alloy refurb and repainting the boot spoiler and I was back in a fast wagon."

What I wish I'd known:
"Er, everything! I hadn't done any research on them and left a deposit the day of the test drive which probably wasn't the best way into Impreza ownership! Luckily I have a great mechanic who is also an Impreza owner and knows his way around them, so if I have any issues they're quickly resolved."

Things I love:
"The noise of the burbling Prodrive exhaust, the grip in any weather, the driving position, the pace, the way it makes any journey feel a bit of an event, and despite it not being much of a looker in most people's eyes I actually quite like the styling. I personally prefer the look of the Impreza wagon over the saloon as I feel it's a bit less in your face, hence the reason I changed the colour of the wheels too. Also it's a good bit rarer in estate guise, which pleases me. Oh, and I know I shouldn't but the dump valve is such a laugh; I never got around to swapping it back to standard and now I don't think I would! The practicality is another plus point, it's had regular trips to the dump and with the rear seats folded flat it can accommodate a fair amount. It comfortably carries our bikes on the roof rack too."

Things I hate:
"There are a few things I dislike about it, but the refinement is the biggie. Coming from an Audi S4 to this took a bit of getting used to! The S4 had heated leather, climate control, cruise control and typical Audi fit and finish so there wasn't a squeak or rattle to be heard - not so much with the Impreza. You don't buy a 14 year-old Japanese rally bred car for its fit and finish I suppose! Another thing that bugs me is even when I'm driving sedately, people (mostly elderly people) often stop and turn and stare as I'm driving past as if I'm some sort of joyrider. I think they hear the rumble of the exhaust and just assume I'm speeding; this annoys me more than it probably should."

"It's not been too bad to be honest as it only covers about 4,000 miles per year and has just clicked over the 90k mark; it had the timing belt done and four new tyres just before I purchased it so that was a bonus. I did have a bit of disaster on Christmas Eve 2016 when the turbo started makings a strange noise so it was flat-bedded up to Automek in East Kilbride; they diagnosed a turbo oil starvation issue, which meant a new turbo had to be fitted for £800. I've replaced the centre silencer with a Scorpion straight through pipe due to a bit of corrosion so this adds a bit of extra note to the exhaust. I swapped the standard paper panel air filter at the last service for a freer flowing RamAir lifetime warranty panel filter - no noticeable difference but it came with a cool sticker!

"A new damper was needed about six months ago so I got my mechanic to fit a set of Apex lowering springs while he was at it; these sit only about 10mm lower - so it's not too in your face - but they are a lot stiffer, which is nice. This is very much a budget build car just for a few hours fun on the weekend, hence no big brake kit or expensive adjustable coilovers which suits me just fine. I have just treated it, though, to four new Goodyear Eagle F1s."

Where I've been:
"We took it up to Aviemore last Easter and down to Skipton in the summer, which were both decent trips. The A65 across the moors to and from Skipton is a particularly nice drive and we're heading back down this year to coincide with the Skipton Car Show. I've also been for a few blasts up to Callander, Loch Lomond and Loch Fyne which is always nice."

What's next?
"Just keeping on top of servicing, I think. However I may also get the timing belt done again; it's not due just yet so it's more for peace of mind than anything else. I did get a letter from Subaru UK in the summer for a transverse link recall but to date the part still isn't available at any dealers so it will be getting this seen to at some stage in the future. I have toyed with the idea of selling it for a Mk2 Focus RS but think I'll keep it for now, unless someone wants to make me an offer I can't refuse!"

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Comments (37) Join the discussion on the forum

  • Norgles 19 Feb 2018

    Good write up, makes me miss the 2003 model I used to have. Out of all the cars I have had the WRX wagon is probably the best I have ever owned. We did 130,000 miles in ours and all it ever needed outside servicing was rear shocks, 1 clutch and the front calipers refurbing. We used it for everything from holidays, commuting, tip runs, carrying furniture, gardening, etc.... it just did whatever you asked of it with no fuss or drama in any weather. Cool cars.

  • Cambs_Stuart 19 Feb 2018

    Good write up.
    I miss my 2005 wrx wagon. Only car I've sold where I think I may have made a mistake.

  • PTF 19 Feb 2018

    Miss my 02 WRX wagon too

    Traded in at 110k for a Leon TDI. Rear arches starting to bubble.

    It was a cracking car. I'd have an 03/04 model just like the one in the article, with the nicer front end and slightly lower emission engine. PPP would be an advantage too.

    Trouble is finding a good one.

    My old car seems to have died now. The MOT history after i sold it doesn't make great reading frown

  • fido 19 Feb 2018

    Ditto 2007 WRX Wagon - only thing I didn't like was the 5-speed 'box - but was a great all-round car!

  • SimonTheSailor 19 Feb 2018

    I know it's obviously an estate/sportswagon but it can't actually be very big inside can it for an estate car ?

    Not knocking it, always thought they would be fun as a sporty estate car, but just not very good at actually being an estate car ?

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