Subaru Looks Back On The WRX's Illustrious History

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Celebrating 30 years of agile and fun compact sport sedans.

For many '80s and '90s kids, the Gran Turismo series opened up a door to previously unheard-of motoring icons. From the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution to the Subaru Impreza WRX, car-obsessed gamers could virtually pilot automotive forbidden fruit from the comfort of their living rooms. While the first-generation Impreza was available locally, the brand never offered the WRX derivative in the US.

Still, the nameplate has amassed a massive following since then, with successive models eventually making their way stateside. Much to the joy of fans across the country, Subaru revealed the latest rendition of the WRX last year, and, with a 271-horsepower turbocharged 2.4-liter flat-four, it continues the tradition of fast and agile compact sport sedans. Now in its fifth generation, the Japanese brand has released a short video celebrating its rich history.

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Short for "World Rally Experimental", the WRX badge was first affixed to the back of an Impreza in 1992. All WRX models to this day boast rally-inspired tech and engineering, stiffer suspension setups, and a turbocharged four-cylinder engine with all-wheel drive. The first generation was made popular by Colin McRae, who piloted an example in the mid-'90s World Rally Championship.

In 2000, the fairly nondescript styling made way for what became known as the "bug-eye" Impreza WRX and while it sported a rather polarizing front-end, it was the first WRX offered in the United States. Powered by a turbocharged 2.0-liter boxer four with 227 hp and 217 lb-ft of torque on tap, it offered fairly rapid performance.

It was an incredible canyon carver, courtesy of grippy all-wheel drive. The styling didn't sit well with many and the second generation saw a facelift after just two years. Interestingly, another facelift arrived for the 2006 model year. Referred to as the "hawk-eye", it's best known for its role in the 2017 film, Baby Driver.

2018-2021 Subaru WRX Sedan Front Angle View Subaru 2018-2021 Subaru WRX Sedan Burnout Subaru 2011-2014 Subaru Impreza WRX Sedan Front Angle View Subaru 2011-2014 Subaru Impreza WRX Sedan Rear Angle View Subaru
2018-2021 Subaru WRX Sedan Front Angle View
2018-2021 Subaru WRX Sedan Burnout
2011-2014 Subaru Impreza WRX Sedan Front Angle View
2011-2014 Subaru Impreza WRX Sedan Rear Angle View

The third iteration saw Subaru introduce the first-ever WRX five-door hatchback. While Subaru drivers weren't too keen on the new body style, it was the softly sprung suspension that disappointed most. The Japanese brand reacted quickly, implementing changes for the 2009 model year. A sedan joined the range too and, overall, it was fairly brisk for the time. Notably, it was the last generation WRX to be sold as an Impreza.

In 2015, the sports compact was rebranded simply as the WRX. The 268-hp/258 lb-ft engine was sufficient enough to send the fourth-gen model to 60 mph in around five seconds. While it lacks the aggressive styling of older models, it's still an entertaining vehicle to drive today but it was getting rather long in the tooth. As a result, Subaru recently released the fifth-generation model, known internally as the VB.

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The latest variant may have oddly-styled wheel arch extensions which give it a rugged feel, but Subaru is promising stellar performance. The turbocharged 2.4-liter provides ample motivation and is a huge improvement over its aging predecessor.

Available to order, the sports sedan is priced from $29,105 and is available with either a six-speed manual or a CVT transmission, although we're not sure why anyone would opt for the latter. Positioned against the likes of the Golf GTI, Jetta GLI, and the upcoming Acura Integra, the new WRX certainly has its work cut out for it. However, it's likely to be the sharpest driving tool in the compact sports sedan shed.

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