Even though there has been a description of the car on this site since November 1999, and a hand sketch of the car since March 2000, a lot of people were dismayed, shocked and even went into denial when the car was first leaked/scooped, and then officially announced a week later on August 23rd 2000. "It looks like a Neon/Corolla" most said. My favourite was "The current model looks like it goes like a scolded cat, this one looks like someone goosed the cat!". At the official launch the crowd were apparently speachless and what was termed as an age that seemed like 5 minutes they eventually began to clap.
The reason for the surprise was due mainly to the secrecy surrounding the car. No one outside of Subaru had seen the car and there were no photographs of the actual car in the flesh. Plenty of computer generated CGI models had flown around the internet and on various covers of magazines around the world but none were anything like what was finally released.
The first picture was received as far back as 6th February 1998, so it has been around for some time and has been announced many times as a scoop! Notice that the front bumper around the indicator and brake ducts are actually pre MY99)
...and another of the same car(? - older style bumper still) found and added 7th January 2000.
..but wait...we now have another MY2001 interpretation found on the net August 1999. Those paint programmes are certainly getting abashing!
...and now the most radical design to date? Found September 1999.
There was amazingly a bit of a rumpus over at Subaru UK over this one with people at Prodrive being quizzed on "leaking" the picture! SUK had heard a rumour of "official" pictures on the web and gone steaming in. DOH!
By the way I've seen the originals used to make this one ;-) If you want to see the original picture used to make the above picture click here. The picture makes quite a nice wallpaper.
And NOW in October the official released artists impression (or so they say;-)
A mock up of the MY2001 Impreza was said to be announced and shown at the end of 1999 at the Tokyo Motorshow but apart from the design studio bodystyling kit for the current Impreza shown below, there was no sign of the 2001.
Impreza Electra copyright © Subaru Japan
I posted this piece in November 1999, the information derived from a source who claimed to have seen the car in the flesh in Japan:-
Apparently the MY2001 won't be available in 2 door form, but will be available in 4 and 5 door format. This means that the WRC will be based upon the 4 door model for the first 2 years. No plans have been made after that. It does not look anything like any of the pictures which have been released up until recently.
The Impreza name is not on the way out, so I do not have to rename the club the Internet WRX Owners Club, but the Turbo will be known throughout the world as the WRX (rather than the GT, Turbo, WRX, 555, etc), and the top of the range normally aspirated will be known as the RS (UK it is currently the Sport).
Europe, Australia, UK, and the USA will get a 225bhp WRX model whilst Japan will get a 280bhp version. The reasoning is to add confusion since everyone wants a WRX. European and US cars will also see a new side air bag sports seat, the Japanese cars will keep the current spec. seat with possibly a leather option.
The STi models will only be available in Japan at 300bhp, but there is mention of an STi model being released in 2002 in the other markets. Unfortunately this will only be a bodykit/suspension/interior upgrade with the export spec. 225bhp engine. No surprises that the STi will come out with a 6 speed gear box and will thus initially only be for the Japanese market. The base WRX comes with 6 speed the following year but with different ratios.
The WRX will come with 17in 215 alloys whilst the STi will see 17in 225 alloys. Surprisingly NO rear spoilers as standard as the car looks better without, but there will be 2 or 3 available as optional extras. The facia has an aluminium effect and we get aluminium racing type pedals.
Now a description. Yes I know a picture paints a thousand words, you will just have to make do with a hundred words ;-)
1. Round to oval headlights with gas discharge an option.
2. Front grill looks like the Fleet-X concept car only stretched closer to the headlights.
3. Bumper similar in general shape to Electra-1 but much bigger fog light bay, approximately double in size. To the side it has similar cuttings to current Impreza bumper.
4. Front wings are very very flared. Not like the 22B, but much more!
5. Side of the car looks similar in design with current Impreza.
6. Rear wings are similar to 22B.
7. Rear side is similar but not the same to current Impreza. It is not so wavy, but round.
8. Rear lights are similar to more vertical similar to the C-class Benz
9. Air vent in front hood much bigger, (to accommodate a 45% bigger intercooler). The hood has a flare to left and right which creates a natural bond with the wings. You could say similar to that of a Boxster.
10. Side skirts make the car look lower and have an effect similar to that of the Fleet-x
The Fleet-X concept show car is actually not that different in size to an Impreza so maybe is a sign of things to come?
These two pictures appeared in the Japanese press in late October/ early November 1999. Do they match the above descriptions?? The second one is the same as the one above but with "Corrolla" type headlights.
The car was seen during testing in Japan but was heavily disguised so that no clue of the vast number of changes and the radical styling that had been undertaken.
Many thanks to IWOC members Paul Webber, and his friend Tosiyuki Nakano in Japan....(added 15:00 11th March 2000).
Not far behind (6 hours!) I receive a couple of sketches from my friend on the inside, with a message saying the above pictures are NOT of the new Impreza! It turns out they are CGI and the middle two are infact altered concept pictures from Honda!
The same picture as seen above (look at the reflections in the bonnet) but recoloured to blue rather than black another Japanese magazine shows the definitive MY2001 Impreza (added 9th April 2000).
A couple of attempts were made to use the spy shots as the basis of artists impressions of the MY2001. Thanks to Pepper McLeod for this (added 8th April 2000)..
Michele from Cars In Action says "I'm sure it's very accurate other than headlamps and bumper which are a guess..."
May 2000 and this time an STi 7 surfaces.
17th May 2000, Autocar has a front page scoop showing the very same pictures that appeared on here way back in March, along with some very sketchy details. Come on guys you must do better!....
31st May edition was better with spy photos of the car going aroung the Nurburgring. Unfortunately no real clear shots, and the car was heavily disguised and painted matt black, but it is interesting that the car is in Europe undergoing tests.
20th June 2000, people ordering in the UK from Europe are being told that the cars (turbo 2 litres) will come standard with 17 inch alloys and air conditioning.
12th July 2000 Paul Webber again scoops new information on the car from Japan. August 23rd preview - with September 2nd official release at all dealers across japan. WRX (and presumably STI) will follow in October. No other details except that multi-link rear suspension is confirmed (still with struts up front). Modest price rise expected (circa 50,000 yen) but not stated which models this applies to.
I have also been sent better photos from the Nurburgring, this time from Australia. the car is still heavily disguised but we're getting there. With thanks to "I know nothing".
18th July 2000 sent to me, from a friend. Sorry for the poor quality as these shots were aparently used as a teaser to entice magazines into paying for the scoop rights.
Does this look like our friends sketch above? We have been warned that the car looks nothing like the artists impressions seen on the net before....and this certainly does not. Within 24 hours of receiving the pictures it has been confirmed to me that this is the same car that is drawn in the above sketch.
30th July 2000 and there is a mass of scoop pictures both here in the UK, Holland and Japan.
A car (left hand drive) ready for shipment on the docks. The sign in the background is aparently NOT Japanese. So was the car in China? Hong Kong maybe? Many thanks for Leu in Japan for coming up with the answer...
"For the blue new Impreza pictures you have, you said that the "sign" in the background in not Japanese. Well, you are about half right. Those are Chinese characters, but you might not know that Jpanese uses a lot of Chinese characters, especially for signs. The characters on the sign says "prohibited", but "what" is prohibited is out of the picture..."
"But one thing I am sure, is that the pictures are taken in Japan, because those little black characters below the big red ones say....something "office"(too blur to recognize), and Chinese does not use the characters that way... hard to explain, kind of like the difference between British English and US English I guess...."
Not to be out done Autocar (subscriptions 01795 414816) ran a scoop with decidedly CGI looking pictures
From our friends in Holland we get the full picture from the snippets shown above...
The car was seen in Switzerland and photographed almost by accident!
17th August 2000 and there seems to be "official" photos floating around the net. It looks like someone was testing the "New Age Impreza" site and accidentally left the back door open!
August 23rd - It has been seen in the flesh by the public officially! Preview showings have been made in Japan and pictures can be seen at the following pages for the saloon and for the 5 door. The first official Subaru site to put pictures on their site can be seen on the Subaru Australia site followed by the Japanese site almost 24 hours later. There is even an online test report only 24 hours after the preview at the Drive.Com site.
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