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Subaru Impreza Turbo: buying guide and review (1992-2000)

Subaru Impreza Turbo: buying guide and review (1992-2000) Classic and Performance Car
Subaru Impreza RB5 Subaru Impreza P1 Subaru Impreza P1 Subaru Impreza P1 Subaru Impreza 22B Subaru Impreza Turbo
It isn’t unusual for a car to earn classic status through its motorsport exploits, but it’s rarer for such success to transform the reputation of an entire brand. The Impreza altered the perception of Subaru from maker of reliable yet slightly bland workhorses to one known for producing one of the biggest giant-killing saloon cars on public roads.
With the Legacy achieving only the occasional competitive result in the World Rally Championship, Subaru’s decision to replace it with the more compact Impreza proved to be an inspired decision. Two years after its debut, the Prodrive-prepared Impreza picked up its first manufacturers’ title in 1995, and successfully defended its crown for the following two years. The Impreza’s reputation in the UK was heightened further by the fact that in it earned Britain its only two WRC drivers’ titles, first in the hands of Colin McRae in 1995 and then Richard Burns in 1999.
On the road, the sharp handling, four-wheel drive traction and throbbing flat-four soundtrack lend turbocharged Imprezas an unmistakable character. A heavy thirst for petrol aside, the Impreza ownership experience should be fairly trouble-free. Frequently topping customer satisfaction surveys in the late nineties, reliability remains a strong point today. It is very rare to find an example which hasn’t been modified in some way – usually in the form of an increase in power.
Which one to buy?
First-gen Impreza Turbo production ran from 1992 until late 2000. Model years can be distinguished by the letters A-G after the GC8 chassis number. Several updates freshened the Impreza formula in that time, with improvements to the brakes, an increase in alloy wheel diameter from 15 to 16-inches in 1994, and styling and interior revisions in 1997 among the most significant.
The original turbocharged Impreza was dubbed Turbo 2000 in the UK market and WRX elsewhere. It initially produced 208bhp, with final run versions climbing slightly to 215bhp. Japanese market cars had 237bhp. The STI gained blueprinted engines, which vaguely produced 276bhp (depending on how strongly Subaru adhered to Japanese car makers’ agreement which said their vehicles would not exceed that figure) and uprated suspension and transmission.
The stripped-out Type RA was the ideal starting point for a Group N rally car. Much of the WRX’s soundproofing was removed, as were the electric windows, the air conditioning unit and ABS system, and an adjustable centre differential and close ratio gearbox were added.
Numerous special editions were produced for the UK market to celebrate the Impreza’s World Rally Championship exploits, often worked over by Prodrive. Some, like the Turbo Terzo and Catalunya Special Editions were little more than limited-run colour and trim variations of the WRX, but others featured more focussed changes.
The P1 is one such example. Based on the Type RA coupe, Prodrive tuned the suspension on UK roads, and added gunmetal-grey 17-inch OZ alloy wheels. Power stood at 276bhp, and though the RA’s centre differential was removed, ABS and a quickshift gearchange were added.
While Prodrive offered the P1, Subaru had already produced the most sought-after special edition of all. The 22B featured a unique body kit which, courtesy of the WRC-inspired flared wheel arches, increased overall width by 80mm. The engine displacement rose to 2212cc and power to about 280bhp, and a twin-plate clutch and Bilstein suspension further singled it out as the most focussed first-gen Impreza ever produced. 400 units were sold, with just 16 officially reaching the UK.
Performance and specs
Engine 1994cc flat four
Power 215bhp @ 5600rpm
Torque 214lb ft @ 4000rpm
Top speed 143mph
0-60mph 5.6secs
Fuel consumption 27mpg
Gearbox Five-speed manual
Insurance group 17
Dimensions and weight
Wheelbase 2520mm
Length 4340mm
Width 1690mm
Height 1440mm
Weight 1235kg
Common problems
● Any performance car – particularly one so popular with tuners - will be far more desirable with a full service history. Subaru recommends an oil service should be carried out every 7,500 miles or so, but closer to 3,000 miles is preferable. The cambelt should be replaced at 45,000-mile intervals.

● Earlier models suffer from leaky power steering pumps. Listen for any whining, and feel for inconsistent weighting from the rack

● Later examples are known to suffer from faulty MAF units. Watch out for an unsettled idle

● Take a good look at the tyres – they tend to wear on the inner edges. Get the car on full lock in either direction to check their condition

● The clutch isn’t prone to failure, but many Imprezas have been driven very hard. Excessive wear usually manifests itself as judder at low revs

● Look for dents under the car which suggest, contrary to the claims of the seller, that the car has “never been raced or rallied”

● Big end failure can be a very expensive issue with overly-tuned or poorly maintained examples. Listen for knocking noise lower down the rev range and low oil pressure
Model history
Nov 1992: First edition of the WRX, codename GC8A, released. Official UK models named Turbo 2000.
Oct 1993: Five-door Wagon debuts
Sep 1994: GC8C model replaces GC8B. WRX gains power hike to 256bhp, and wheels increase to 16 inches in diameter
1996: Series McRae special edition released. Prodrive-tweaked model features “Rally Blue” paint, gold alloys, special decals and Recaro seats. 200 units produced
Sep 1996: Revised styling across range. WRX power output rises to 276bhp. Coupe model debuts, with a lighter and stiffer chassis than the saloon
Mar 1997: Catalunya Special edition released, featuring black paint with red metallic flake and gold alloys. 200 produced for UK market
1997: Interior styling tweaks across the range. Turbo 2000 gains leather interior
1998: Subaru Japan produce 22B. Based on the Coupe, it offers WRC-inspired styling, Sonic Blue paint, a small increase in displacement and Bilstein suspension 
1999: RB5 model released to celebrate Richard Burns’ WRC title. Based on saloon, it featured “Blue Steel” Grey paint with matching alcantara trim inside, a unique bodykit and 17” Speedline alloy wheels. An optional WR Sport Performance Pack upped power to 237hp and a Prodrive suspension kit also available. 444 produced for the UK market
Sep 1999: New wheel designs debuted, colour coded door mirrors/door handles became standard, as did remote central locking. The WRX gained brake upgrades
Mar 2000: Prodrive-developed P1 released. Based on Type R coupe, the suspension is set up specifically for UK roads, while power stands at 276bhp. Finished in the same Sonic Blue pant as the 22B
2001: GC Impreza replaced with all-new GD (saloon) and GG (wagon) models
Owners clubs, forums and websites
- uk.subaruownersclub.com
- www.grahamgoode.com/subaru.html
- www.scoobyparts.com
Summary and prices
Thanks to reasonably strong numbers of road legal examples on our roads (around 3,300 currently registered according to howmanyleft.co.uk) Turbo 2000 and STi models are still highly affordable performance cars. A clean, almost original Turbo 2000 with around 80,000 miles could be yours for less than £2,500, and even the most immaculate low mileage examples are unlikely to cost more than £5000. The more practical (but ultimately less desirable) wagons are even cheaper.
Special edition models go for a little mode. The RB5 generally costs between £5-£7000, and an imported Type RA in original condition is worth a similar amount. Values for an original P1 are creeping up towards the £10,000 mark, but it’s the 22B which has seen values skyrocket – recent sales suggest values are sitting at between £40,000 and £60,000.

Words: Alex Ingram
Subaru Impreza RB5 Subaru Impreza P1 Subaru Impreza P1 Subaru Impreza P1 Subaru Impreza 22B Subaru Impreza Turbo
Last updated: 22nd Mar 2016
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Subaru Impreza
1995 29000 GBP

    £14,995 £14,995

    Type: Used Year: 2005 Make: SUBARU Model: IMPREZA Trim: FRESH IMPORT JDM 2005 SUBARU IMPREZA STI VERSION 9 HAWK EYE RED TOP ENGINE Body: Sedan Trans: Manual Mileage: 75000 Engine Size: 1995 Ext Color: BLACK

    • Mileage: 75000 mi
    • Engine size: 1995
    For sale
    £14,995 £14,995
    Lakeside Imports Ltd
    01189115758 View contact number
  • Subaru Impreza

    £7,450 £7,450

    Electric Sunroof, Heated Seats, Climate Control Air Conditioning, Isofix, Xenon Headlamps, Tinted Glass, ABS, Power Steering, Remote Central Locking, Electric Windows, Electric Mirrors, Twin Air Bags, Side Air Bags, CD Player, 4x4 Full Black Leather, 17 Inch Alloy Wheels, Full Service History

    • Mileage: 61000 mi
    • Engine size: 2457
    For sale
    £7,450 £7,450