A true hero must have a following to show he, or it, is of the people. A true hero is working class in the Robin Hood and Spiderman mould and that is why, stunning as it is, the Ferrari 355 is not a true 90’s hero. Speaking of Spiderman, this particular superhero is an apt metaphor for this 90’s hero, so please be upstanding for the Subaru Impreza WRX STI.
Let’s not beat around the bush here, the STI is a cult car and was within its infancy. Not many cars can make that claim to fame, but when you dissect the ingredients that made up this car, it's easy to see why because it had it all.
First up, the power. In standard form the STI was running the regulation two-hundred and something bhp coming from a turbo-charged 4-pot boxer, but this was well within the capabilities of this car’s platform and many were tuned to obscene levels of grunt.
All heroes need something to define them from the other pretenders. Spiderman had his webs. Robin Hood had his arrows. Catwoman had her catsuit. And the Scoob? The Scoob had its boxer. The power was one thing, but its most significant attribute was the noise, especially when attached to the regulation Impreza drainpipe exhaust. A deep, deep warble that you would hear long before you saw and felt to your core when given t’beans. It is not a refined noise in the Alfa sense, but my word is it menacing and it has character. Not many cars can be recognised by their soundtrack alone, but the Scooby is one of them.
This was not a one-trick pony, though. Any car nut worth his salt knows the rallying heritage of this car and in the hands of Colin McRae and later Richard Burns and Petter Solberg (three of the ballsiest and grounded drivers out there) dominated the World Rally Championship and cemented itself into the psyche of young boys across the land, resplendent in Mica Blue and gold wheels.
It is up there as one of the true icons of the racing world alongside the Gulf GT40 and the JPS Lotus F1 cars. It was the handling that made this car and its four-wheel drive and some mind-scrambling electronic gubbins made this car travel around pretty much any corner at any speed and at any angle. One might even compare its grip levels to that of Spiderman, not to mention its ability to soak up landings from massive jumps.
Anything else? Oh, it was the perfect everyday car and not just a weekend trophy car. It had the practicalities reliability of any normal four-door family car with a boot, but it went like the clappers and had genuine pedigree.
Any downers? Well it’s no water-painting but it does look purposeful and the interior is a bit shit, but I tend to look out the windscreen when I’m driving. This car did display another feature of the typical superhero. It is misunderstood by those out of the loop and is still viewed today by philistines as the possession of pillocks, with its I’m-half-a-mile-away-but-you-can-still-hear-me exhaust and it’s sodding great wing.
Some might argue it lacks the purity of a naturally aspirated RWD sports-car, but this car is about the sum of its parts working together in unison to create something truly compelling. It is a working-class hero and after the excesses of the 80’s where 959s and F40s were the poster-boys of speed, the Impreza made speed and cult status accessible to the masses. It came with no airs and graces or pretensions.
It was bloody brilliant at what it did and fully deserves its cult status and is the true 90s hero. If Spiderman had a car, the Subaru Impreza would be it.
This blog post was submitted by Car Throttle reader Ben Hawkins.
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