Rally ready, but not quite ready to put its best feet forward in the States.
by Brenda Priddy
Stylists at Subaru don't get the call every day, but no doubt they're geeked about their newest infant about to be birthed. The next Impreza four-door, pictured here undergoing testing at the German Nurburgring, reportedly will make its debut at October's British International Motor Show in Birmingham.
Although its generic lines won't be hallmarking a Futurama any time soon, there are hints and promises of greatness: flared wheel arches appear on all the new Impreza sedans, and we're promised a 218-hp turbo and 280-hp WRX model, both of which get a deep, showy front air dam and large front driving lights as well as a massive air scoop on the hood.
The four-wheel-drive road-going WRX rally car will push 280 hp, with a potential to unleash up to 340 hp after specialist tuning. But engineers have not yet started work on the revised engine mapping required to make the car meet European and North American noise and emissions regulations.
The two-door bites the dust, but the wagon comes back for another round. It doesn't sound as if Subaru will bless it with the extra horsepower: they're aiming it at a more mature crowd in search of everyday practicality and four-wheel drive capability. An Outback model is likely to be spun off from the five-door version.
The new cars will be almost three inches wider and nearly an inch longer in wheelbase than the current models, but will be the same overall length. The new car is also likely to benefit from the multi-link rear suspension developed for the Legacy with help from Porsche, replacing the simpler strut arrangement of the current car.
Under the hood the new Impreza gets a new flat four of the same bore and stroke as the current boxer engine. A new six-speed manual gearbox aims to improve on the current car's notchy action. It will have a higher top gear for quieter, more economical highway driving. Designers have also responded to criticisms of the car's interior by improving the cabin's ergonomics and the quality of materials used.
Although the Turbo and wagon versions will reach the States, no word yet as to if the WRX will be sold here - or if importers will be busy shipping parts across the ocean.
© 2000 The Car Connection