The Subaru Impreza WRX is a high-powered, turbocharged version of the Subaru Impreza, a small all wheel drive sedan. The WRX has become an icon for automobile enthusiasts wherever it is sold for its high performance, excellent grip and handling, practicality, and relatively affordable price (approximately $45,000 Australian, or $25,000 US).
Originally introduced in 1992 in Japan, then shortly afterwards in Australia and Britain, the WRX had a turbocharged flat-4 2-litre engine producing 155 kilowatts of power (208 horsepower). Compared to the base Impreza, the WRX had wider low-profile tyres, larger brakes (further improved in later versions with the fitment of four-piston calipers and larger discs), and firmer, higher quality suspension components. Offering the performance and handling of vehicles of far higher cost, it rapidly became popular with enthusiasts worldwide. Indeed, it gained a reputation as a popular getaway car for robberies because the car's precise, yet forgiving, handling meant that even inexperienced drivers were able to handle it at high speeds.
A series of low-volume versions with even greater power and grip were built by Subaru's in-house modifier, Subaru Tecnica International (STi). These versions are often raced, largely unmodified, in production car circuit racing and stock classes of car rallies to great success. A highly modified version is raced in the WRC class of the World Rally Championship, in which it has been competitive for many years.
In the 2002 model year, an all-new version of the car was released, finally appearing in the United States, with a 169 kW (227 HP) engine. While the new model was more refined and handled better, it was not as popular with enthusiasts since its greater weight hampered performance slightly. A higher-powered engine fitted to the Japanese market version remedied that problem somewhat. In addition to the sedan model, a 5-door wagon was offered, and met with brisk sales. Even so, the exterior styling was widely regarded as somewhat unattractive. As a result, in an unusually early revamp, Subaru updated the style again for the 2003 model year.
In the 2004 model year, Subaru began selling the highly performance-tuned WRX STi in the United States, with a 2.5-litre engine producing 224 kW (300 HP).
The Subaru Impreza WRX is to be the base for the Saab 9-2.