MY98 - 1998 Impreza 2000 Turbo AWD

The 1998 model has a few revisions to further improve the car over the 1997 face lift. Looking inside the car you see several detailed upgrades. The dashboard is totally revised with an item similar to the newly introduced Forrester. A quick run down of the interior changes are:-

Interior of 1998 specification Impreza

On the exterior the only changes are 16in alloys which look like WRX items replacing the 15in. The engine is slightly smoother and has also had a few mods to hopefully over come a couple of minor problems with the 1997 spec. This includes a bigger dump valve, revamped turbo inlet and rerouted air intake. Unfortunately the price is up by just over £600.

From the October 1997 press release from the motorshow where the car was launched.....

All Imprezas now have a fascia similar to the new Forester sports utility, complete with driver and passenger airbags and lidded box in the centre of the fascia.

Every model in the saloon and five door range also has a new centre console with lidded box and cupholders, while the cloth-covered interior door trim casings are a new design.

Impreza Sport and GL models now feature a driverís seat with height adjustment at both the front and rear of the seat base. This is in addition to the height-adjustable steering column, ensuring optimum comfort.

Biggest improvements are to the 144 mph Impreza Turbo 2000 AWD which now has larger 16ins x 7ins 5-spoke alloy wheels with lower profile 205/50 tyres (was 15 ins x 6 ins with 205/55 tyres).

The Impreza Turbo also boasts a new leather-covered 4-spoke Momo steering wheel, leather-covered handbrake lever and white instrument dials.

Impreza Sport models have a new design of 6-spoke alloy wheels for Ď98 carrying the same 195/60R15 tyres as before.

The Impreza range starts with the 2.0 GL AWD manual saloon priced at £13, 915 on-the-road and is topped by the Impreza Turbo 2000 AWD five door manual at £20,215 on-the-road.

For 1998 to celebrate winning the World Rally Manufacturers title for the third time in the row, Subaru UK released the Terzo, which means third in Italian. It is also the third special edition to the UK. There are 333 of these cars, all supplied in an exclusive blue (colour code 74F) similar to but not the same blue as the WRC cars, with gold 16 inch alloys and special Terzo badging on the sides and rear.

Inside the seats are trimmed in grey 'Alcantara' (a suede-effect) interior trim, with black 'Jersey' surround on seats. Note the rear seats do not split/drop to allow greater loading space. As with the Catalunya there are embossed carpets, interior plaque (no number 13 but I have had it confirmed that no. 334 exists!), and air conditioning. The car also comes fitted as standard with a Cobra Thatcham category 1 remote locking alarm/immobiliser system all in for a price of £22,995.

Test drives and reviews

The 1998 model has already taken on all comers in the Performance Car of the Year 1997 award in the January 1998 Performance Car magazine (they really like Imprezas!). Unfortunately, after overcoming the likes of the Ford Puma, Jaguar XJR, Chevrolet Corvette, Alpina B10, Nissan Skyline GT-R, Caterham Superlight R, Honda Integra Type-R, BMW M Roadster, Porche Boxster, it failed at the final hurdle coming second only to a £144,000 Ferrari 550 Maranello. Now I have no problem with that! ;-)

Performance Car again put the Impreza to the test in the February 1998 issue, putting it up against the original Audi Quattro 20V, Lancia Delta Integrale Evo, Ford Escort RS Cosworth and Nissan Skyline GT-R. The final conclusion summed it up:-
"The Impreza does without the luxury of gorgeous looks, winning you over with with its honesty and awesome ability. Any half-decent driver will cover ground at a stormingly fast pace, whatever the conditions. And if very little can live with it on the road, no new car can touch it on value for money. It's not perfect, but after two days in Wales it won by the slimmest of margins."

4x4 group shot...the competition (Copyright © Performance Car)

The February 4th 1998 Autocar (subscriptions 01795 414816) tested the 5 door Turbo and gave it 5 out of 5 stars, only two cars achieved this in 1997. "The best affordable performance car yet".

Performance Impreza sorry Car ;-) featured the Impreza in their second hand buyers guide (well have you tried buying a new one?) in the March 1998 edition. This issue is a must if you are looking into getting a car.

Finally at the end of February I managed to get myself a test drive in a 1998 specification car. Here are my impressions....

First impressions. As I walk upto the car it certainly looks nice on the new 16" alloys. My 1997 model parked alongside gives an interesting contrast as I have 17" Speedlines. No real other give aways that this is a 98 from the outside.

I get in and immediately notice the instruments. Hate the white dials with gold lettering, which are laid out different to mine with the rev counter off to the right and the speedo more central. Now revcounter in the centre and speedo off to the right would be better, but the gold on white and the font used isn't to my taste at all. Mileometer and trip now digital and the clock is in the pod rather than on the centre console where everyone could see it. Switch gear has moved around too, with the indicator and wiper stalks in their "normal" place (not for me though). Foglight switches have moved slightly, both to the right and the hazards and rear demist button have gone to the central console.

The door panelling has changed and the electric window switches have moved a bit, and whats this, it looks like a tweeter kit is standard. Looks is the correct word as it turns ou to be only the grill with no tweeters behind. Still it makes the tweeter kit for an MY98 onwards cheaper. Not sure that I like the new door layout as the switches look a bit out of place. Best of all is the Momo steering wheel. Until I had seen and felt it in real life I was not convinced by the pictures I had seen, it did not look right to me. Now I have driven a car with it I want one! Shame it doesn't fit a '97 though without major surgery.

Turn on the ignition and there's that familiar boxer rumble. Into first, the gear change seems a bit different. Release the hand more leather and my arm is sitting on the arm rest. Oh how I have I missed this centre support from my Celica! Pull away, change gear, yep its a bit shorter throw but not as short and crunchy as a quickshift. The engine sounds different, a lot more whistling going on in there for certain. It certainly feels smoother.

I get out onto the open road and open it up and am really surprised. I would not say that it is faster than my 1997 by the way it accelerates but there is no hint of turbo lag there at all. In fact I would have sworn I was driving a 3 litre or bigger engined car. It just accelerates without drama from 2000 rpm.

The steering seems a bit lighter and less comunicative but that Momo wheel is great! The suspension feels slightly harder than the 97 but without the extra feel from the steering and a bit of uncertainty I'm not willing to push real hard into a bend.

Hey no rattles ;-)

Whilst sitting in traffic on my way back I started playing around with the switch gear. The radio even with the tweeters grills ;-) is still boomy and no mid range. I look at the window switches and open my how do you get it back up. By the time I had moved further on in the queue I had the passengers side open and the drivers side rear down as well and mine fully down with still no idea on getting them up. Then I tried lifting the button...eureka, simple I suppose!

On returning the car, the dealer agreed on my comments on the engine and said he also felt the car might be a bit too civilised for some now. On returning home in the Cat I certainly noticed the difference again but was secretly wanting the 98 engine and that Momo steering wheel in my Cat. The rest, the revised interior, slightly harder suspension and lighter steering I would need convincing over.

Ok. Onto 1999, have a look at the improvements made with the 1999 model the MY99.

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Page last updated 3rd March 2003
Copyright © 1997/8/9/2000/1/2/3 Steve Breen
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