First Drive: Subaru Impreza WRX V-Limited

Well well well, here we are with another familiar face....  The well recognized Subaru Impreza WRX.  But this is no regular  This is a very rare special edition, so special it had a limited production.  A V-limited production - heh.  The Impreza itself was Subaru's answer to the growing demand in the compact car market with rival companies creating many other mid-sized sedans but Subaru didnt want to take all the fun out of cars just because they had four doors hence the WRX and STI models.  The existence of the WRX specifically was brought about because of World Rally Federation rules stating that manufacturers could only use production vehicles for their race cars.  This model specifically is a face lifted second generation (GD) and was powered by the well known EJ205 2.0 flat four "boxer" engine with a turbo.  With their legendary all-wheel drive system, flared out body panels for increased track width, and larger 4 piston front/ 2 piston rear brakes the WRX would help Subaru to set the standard in the history books for rally races all over the world.

As previously mentioned this car is a GD chassis meaning second generation of the Subaru Impreza and this model in particular is referred to as the "blobeye" with the first appearance of the GD chassis being the "bugeye".  The GD Impreza would receive several upgrades/improvements from the previous GC chassis like increased torsional rigidity from a steel ring circling the B pillar section and front subframe improvements.  The GD also was the first turbocharged Impreza to arrive on U.S. soil as the sport compact market grew further.

The V-Limited WRX was specially limited to a 3-month sales blitz specifically for the Japanese market ONLY.  It was used, along with the STI, to commemorate Subaru winning the constructors title in WRC for the 2002-2003 season and Petter Solberg, along with his navigator Phil Mills winning the driver’s title for those consecutive seasons.  The V-limited WRX includes key features that were not available on standard models from that model year like xenon headlamps, WRC gold coloured RAYS 1-piece forged wheels, a special STI front lip spoiler, World Rally Blue Mica paint with matching blue alcantara interior including floor mats, STI front bucket seats, aluminum sport pedals and shift knob.  It is also equipped with the famous Subaru branded MOMO steering wheel, rear privacy glass, STI front bumper, lip spoiler and special side skirts.  Additional features included the STI hood scoop, rear trunk lid spoiler, special aluminum badges and neon yellow decals denoting Subaru World Rally Team.  This WRX was one "limited" ride. 

The first impression when you sit in this majestic machine are about as great as you can imagine - if you like blue that is.  It has an incredibly comfortable driving position with well bolstered seats to hold you planted during spirited driving.  While on its test drive the car would inspire confidence with the way it hugged the road and how well planted it would remain through all the sweepers and bends.  The manual gearbox had a very satisfyingly short throw making it easy for precise shifting.  The special aluminium shift knob has an excellent weight to it.  This particular car was also equipped with the STI Genome cat-back exhaust system which gave it a very nice distinct rumble while not having much drone.

When driving there is noticeable turbo lag before the small twin scroll turbo spools up, however, acceleration is decent but can be somewhat lacking going uphill.  The factory ECU does need to be re-tuned to run appropriately on local pump fuel as Canada is not fortunate enough to have 98 octane fuel served at the pump.  Annnnd no WRX/STI review would be complete without mentioning how the massive rear wing does tend to obstruct the view out the rear window and can hinder quick glances at the mirror.  That all being said the Impreza WRX was and is a good vehicle for anyone looking to spice up their drive when shopping in the smaller sedan market.

Did we mention the whole interior is very blue?  In fact the whole car is very blue! 

Featured Specs: 

Engine: EJ205, 2.0L H4, DOHC with Active Valve Control System (AVCS).   Transmission: 5 speed Manual, available 4 speed Automatic  Drive train: Subaru Asymmetrical AWD  Boost type: Single twin-scroll turbocharger, air to air intercooler  Stated fuel consumption: 12.7L/100km city, 7.1L/100km highway, 9.2L/100km combined   

Seating capacity: 4 door, 5 passengers    

Practicality:  Marketed as a compact sedan the Impreza is roomy, can seat 4 comfortably and has a decent sized trunk to carry a few duffle bags.  Outward visibility is reasonable and can be helpful when navigating through mountain passes or making left turns locally.  The permanent all-wheel drive system makes it easy to deal with any rough terrain that may be encountered during rally stages or other interior roads in beautiful BC.

Ride quality/handling:  The ride is smooth and comfortable considering how performance-oriented it is.  Handling is sharp and it is willing to change direction easily.  The steering feel is excellent, requires minimal effort, and the road feel and feedback is impressive through the thick rimmed steering wheel.

Close competitors: Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution, Ford Focus ST, Dodge Dart R/T, Nissan Sentra Nismo, Mazdaspeed 3, Chevrolet Cobalt SS 

Overall, the Subaru WRX V-Limited was a pleasure to drive and this very rare gem would be a great addition to your garage!  Thank you to the staff at Velocity Motorcars in Burnaby for giving us access to the test vehicles so we may give the good news onto you!  The readers!

-Team 604








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