As the new millenia started in 2000, the Impreza now over 6 years old, was long due (in Japanese terms) for a total overhaul with a new body shape and underlying mechanicals to replace the original design. It is with the new MY2001 (confusingly MY2002 in the USA due to a later March 2001 release) that Subaru chose to introduce the model to replace the car which has had so much success on rally stage and street alike. Aimed squarely at the VW Golf and Ford Focus, Subaru hope to attract a greater share of the small family car market with a car not only aimed at enthusiasts but at people who know nothing or care nowt about the thoroughbred rallying background.
For a couple of years leading up to launch there was speculation on what the new car would look like and its featured specification. The internet was a great source for rumours and news with CGI generated pictures appearing almost weekly. You can find the story behind the MY2001 development, from this internet viewpoint in the wrX-Files with archived material such as the various "scoop" pictures, CGI generated and the actual car in camouflage.
The only picture in existance of the new car before it was officially released and it was exclusive to this site!
Japan had their first look at the new Impreza late August 2000 and it was here that the bugeyed shape was seen/confirmed for the first time. So radically different was the car seen to the pictures "leaked" that many people diregarded them as fake! The look of the car was also so different to the outgoing model and controversially so with the then Impreza owners of the world in uproar! What had Subaru done?
The New Age Impreza (as it is called in Japan) is available in two body styles, a 4 door saloon and a 5 door estate/hatch/wagon. There is as yet no 2 door model even in Japan and the World Rally Car will be based upon the 4 door model in 2001. The top of the range model, the 2 litre turbo is called the WRX in all markets. Previously the WRX was the Japanese sourced model seen in the UK via the grey import route or to confuse matters the lower power export turbo seen in Australia which was called the GT in Europe and Impreza Turbo in the UK. Now confusion will be Worldwide which is the aim of the marketeers knowing that everyone wanted the WRX.
The surprising feature of the two bodystyles is that the 4 door gets a much more agressive wider wheel arch extensions and track on the running gear to the 5 door (see picture below). This is a departure from the older model where the bodies were identical up until the final C pillar. An improved stiffness of the shell to meet new World wide crash test regulations means that the saloon is reported as being 250% stiffer, but with it comes 70kg of extra weight. The front suspension is strut based whilst the rear is dual link strut, something which had been of conciderable debate in the preceeding months.
Two different headlight clusters are available in Japan, with a higher specification HID projector lamp for the top of the range models. These look radically different with the indicator positioned in different places for the two headlight units. UK/Europe will not be getting this HID headlight in the near future unless it is redesigned because it does not meet European standards. Any HID light fitted to a car in Europe has to have automatic self levelling which this one does not.
The standard Japanese WRX features a power output of 247bhp which is surprising as the outgoing MY2000 WRX had 276bhp. The higher output STi version was released in Japan mid October 2000. This car is seen as important for expanding the non Japanese market with an STi promised for export by 2002, something which was resisted on the outgoing models. The STi engine is rated at 276bhp and features variable timing, a larger turbo charger, larger intercooler angled forward with a larger bonnet scoop and a 6 speed gear box. One other outstanding feature of this model is the Brembo calipers featured at the front and back. See the later section dedicated to the Japanese specification cars for more details.
The first place that the new MY2001 was seen in Europe was at the NEC Motorshow in Birmingham, England on 19th to 29th October. There were three models shown, the new turbo (now called the WRX) with 215BHP power, 292NM torque, a 2 litre model called the GX with 123BHP and a 1.6 litre 94BHP 5 door only model called the TS. All feature 4 wheel drive. The WRX is very similar to the Japanese WRX but fuel mapping for 95RON is probably the main reason for the drop in power.
Looking at the engine bay it is aparent that there is now a cold air intake arranged to take its input from the front grill rather than inside the bay itself. The blow off valve located on the intercooler has also changed. As well as the two catalysts in the downpipe and centre silencer section, hidden is a third catalyst located in the exhaust manifold between the turbo and engine.
Smaller 600x450 or BIG 2048x1536 (warning 600k download!)
The release of a totally new model with revised engine management, three catalysts and stronger chassis/better crash resistance sees the turbo model being imported to the USA for the first time! The WRX released in the USA has a higher rated power output at 225bhp, and there are other differences from this and other export versions. The front brakes are disapointingly only 2 piston calipers on a smaller disc compared to the other markets 4 piston kit. The wheels supplied as standard are only 16in alloys compared to 17in here in the UK. The orange reflectors on the front wings are missing (a good thing!)
There are two different seat available for the WRX and these may or may not be available in your market. There is a sports seat which has side air bags, and a rally style bucket seat which has more support but does not have the side air bags. This seat looks very similar the the one fitted to the older model.
Sports and bucket seat comparison.
In the UK the bucket seat was initially only available in the 5 door, whilst the 4 door gets the air bag less supportive seat. Meanwhile in Europe the 4 door is available with either. Rumours suggest that Subaru UK ordered the first batch of WRX with the wrong seats! Proving that it can go wrong on both sides of the Channel dealers in Holland have received cars without rear spoilers!
So enough about the road car for the moment, how about the rally car which will be spearheading Subaru's World Rally Championship attempt this year?
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