To celebrate winning the 2003 World Rally Championship, Subaru exported 1000 Imprezas equipped with its ‘Driver’s Control Centre Differential’ (DCCD), which allows the driver to change the handling characteristics of the car. These cars were shipped around the world, with 500 coming to the UK as WR1s.
What made the WR1 special is that Prodrive (the company behind Subaru’s championship winning WRC car) uprated the suspension and dampers in a bid to tune out understeer in the corners. It was also the most powerful production Impreza at the time at 316bhp, around 54bhp more than the standard STI. You could only get it in ‘Ice Blue’, too.
Most of the hardcore Imprezas of old were STIs with every option from the parts catalogue bolted on, and badged as an S200 series. However, as the S200 series was traditionally only available in Japan, Subaru decided to bring the pinnacle of STI to the rest of the world in the form of the RA-R.
The RA-R was about as hardcore as a Subaru could get. While it used the same engine as the S204, it had the largest brakes on a Japanese production car and had a revised exhaust system to provide a better response at lower revs. It also had bucket seats, stiffer suspension and a roof scoop to make you feel like a real rally driver. Subaru had finally given the world its best effort, and it was incredible.
Subaru may not be represented on the global rally stage any more, but that doesn’t mean it’s given up on giving us race-spec Imprezas. By us, I mean the Japanese, because only 400 S207s are available, all of which are in Japan.
Still, it’s got 323bhp, which is around 27bhp more than the existing Impreza STI, and gets an improved suspension setup, too. Of the 400 production S207s, 200 are the limited edition NBR Challenge Package (celebrating Subaru’s win at the 2015 Nurburgring 24 Hour), which you can get in a very vibrant ‘Yellow Edition’. If you don’t live in Japan but really want to get your hands on one, there’s always importing, but be prepared to pay big money to get one out of the country.
It’s impossible to make a list about Subaru’s greats without talking about the daddy of STI, the 22B. Limited to just 424 units, the 22B was built in 1998 to celebrate its 40th anniversary and its third WRC constructors’ title.
Wide body arches, WRC-inspired front bumper, bucket seats and a big, functional air scoop made the 22B look every bit as fast as its rallying sibling. Under the hood was a 2.2-litre engine that, apparently, produced 276bhp. At the time, Japanese cars were not allowed to exceed that horsepower limit thanks to a gentleman’s agreement, but some believe the 22B produces closer to 300bhp. Sadly, it never came to America and only 16 made it into the UK, making it that little bit more special if you spot one.
Everyone was bemused when Subaru launched the hatchback Impreza in 2007. For a car that had always been a four-door saloon, the third generation Impreza was more retirement home than rally car.
That didn’t stop the likes of Cosworth from working its magic on it, and while the STI was a welcome return of performance (and looks), Cosworth wanted to take the Impreza to new heights. The CS400 had a massive 395bhp and 400lb ft of torque, as well as numerous handling improvements. Only 75 units were made, making it one of the most powerful production Imprezas - and one of the rarest, too.