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Thursday, 3 September, 2015 - 09:49 (UK)  

..:: The Subaru Impreza Story

1. The Subaru Impreza Story, as told by me
2. The History of the Subaru Impreza
3. Special Editions
4. Image Galleries
5. My 2001 Subaru Impreza WRX - Red Mica

..:: The History of the Subaru Impreza

Subaru is a subsidiary of Fuji Heavy Industries. Which was originally Nakajima Aircraft back in 1917. It's wasn't until 1954 before Fuji Heavy Industries took on the challenge of building a road car. The name of this car was the P-1 (Nothing like the modern Subaru Impreza P1) which stood for Prototype-1. This name was later changed to the Subaru 1500. And here the Subaru was born. The name Subaru Closely translates to reference the star cluster Pleiades, which is the same famous star cluster that we see make up the subaru logo today. over the decades Subaru continued to build motor cars and in 1972 made it's first 4WD car with the Subaru Leone 4WD Station Wagon. From that point onwards Subaru made something for a name for it's self in the 4WD motor car department, almost like a trade mark. Think Subaru, think All Wheel Drive. However it wasn't until 1992 that the Subaru Impreza was born. So let's pick up the story from there.


The Launch of the Subaru Impreza (Japan) The Subaru Impreza was developed after rule changes in the World Rally Championship (WRC) demanded a replacement to the Subaru Legacy which was previously used by Subaru in the WRC. The changes meant that a new smaller, lighter and faster car was required in order to compete in the WRC. So even from day one, the Subaru Impreza was developed for rallying.


The Subaru Impreza reached the UK. Initially the Subaru Impreza was available in both Front Wheel Drive (FWD) and All Wheel Drive (AWD) versions. However the FWD was soon dropped in preference of the trademark Subaru AWD system.


The Turbo Charged Impreza 2000 AWD reached the UK (Known as the Subaru Impreza WRX in Japan). Also in 2004, Subaru Technica International (STI) was born and we started seeing STI versions of the Subaru Impreza Turbo. The Subaru Impreza WRX STI meant much more than an extra badge on the body. The STI stood for a full upgrading of the Subaru Impreza Taking was was learned on the World Rally stages and incorporating developments into the road car. Many areas were upgraded for the Subaru Impreza STI versions. Engine, Suspension and overall performance and handling greatly improved over the standard car. Top speed was limited to 155mph and 0-62 came in at just 4.7seconds for the Impreza STI. These figures made the Subaru Impreza very sought after by the local boy racers. Albeit a bit more expensive than the your every day Peugeot 205 and Vauxhall Nova.


Subaru won the World Rally Championship in a 555 WRC Subaru Impreza driven by fellow Scotsman Colin McRae. A brilliant achievement for both driver and manufacturer. Driver Colin McRae for being the first ever British driver to win the WRC, and Subaru proved that the Impreza was a World Leading rally car. To mark the success of Subaru winning the WRC championship that year, a special edition Subaru Impreza was released in the form of the McRae Series Subaru Impreza.


Subaru took the manufacturer title for a second year in a row, and promptly released another special edition Impreza knows as the Subaru Impreza Catalunya.


Subaru won a hat-trick of manufacturer championships and celebrated once again by releasing a new special edition Impreza. The Subaru Impreza Terzo (Italian for 3rd). Only 333 Subaru Impreza Terzos were made, as a mark of the three championships won with the Subaru Impreza. 1997 also saw a few changes to the Impreza road car. Interior styling was updated including an exclusive MOMO racing steering wheel. Meanwhile STI versions were given an newly designed rear spoiler. In Japan a special 2-door coupe Subaru Impreza was released which was used as the 1998 WRC car.


The Subaru Impreza 22B. A label that often conjures up thoughts of what the ultimate Subaru Impreza might be. The 22B (Note: for the computer geeks out there, 22B in hex converts to 555 in decimal.) provided a 2.2l boxer engine, more hardcore styling all round including 2-doors instead of 4 and an adjustable rear wing made up just some of the key features of the 22B. Only 400 22B's were made in order to celebrate 40 years of Subaru and only 16 of those were destined for the UK. I've seen three in total!! UK versions also had tweaked gearing which was specifically optimised to UK roads. How cool is that!


To celebrate the new driver lineup of Richard Burns in the Subaru World Rally Team, Subaru decided it was once again time for a special edition. This time the RB5 named after Richard Burns. Sadly in November 2003 Richard Burns was diagnosed with a form of brain tumour and later died on the 25th November 2005 from his illness. This makes the RB5 all the more special now. Only 444 RB5's were made, with the option of the WR Sport pack.

1999 Also saw the release of another special edition. The Subaru Impreza P1, which like the Subaru Impreza 22B was a 2-door coupe model, and like the 22B it was only available in WR Blue. However unlike the 22B the Subaru Impreza P1 delivered a 276bhp out of the box, and supporting a whole load of new accessories such as 10-spoke OZ Titanium racing wheels, improved quick-shift gearbox, rear-wiper, new front wing/splitter, new fog lamps and a new exclusive rear wing. Unlike the Impreza 22B there were 1,000 P1's made. Despite this the Subaru Impreza P1 remains one of the most expensive Subaru Impreza's to buy today.



For eight years, the Subaru Impreza remained more or less unchanged (externally) until 2000 where Subaru decided to update the Impreza for the 21st century. This change was met with mixed views. The appropriately labeled Bug-eye version by critics, was just that. Bug-eyed! One can only guess it was Subaru's attempt to make the Impreza all cute and cuddly. But this didn't go down well with the fans. Many NewAge impreza's promptly had their headlights replaces with WRC look-alike HI-Definition (HiD) lamps or the more aggressive looking Morette cluster. What was in favour of the fans was the globalisation of the WRX name. Previously only used in Japan, the WRX badge was now stuck to any Impreza with a Turbo!


To celebrate Richard Burns's win in the WRC and the launch of the of the new model, Subaru decided to launch yet another special edition Impreza. This time the Subaru Impreza UK300. Once again just like the 22B and P1 the only colour available was WR Blue. The UK300 supported new prodrive styled spoilers of which the rear wing looked like was picked from bit of an airfix kit and not put together properly. Thankfully the front end was improved slightly, with the addition of improved HiD headlamps which made the car look slightly less like a bug. Yet no matter what they did, it was still going to be remembered as the Bug-Eyed version. 2001 also saw the arrival of the NewAge (Must stop calling it bug-eyed) Subaru Impreza WRX STI to the UK. Just like previous STI's, this was based on the WRX but tweaked a little by the Subaru Technica International (STI) team. If that wasn't enough there was also the option of a Prodrive Performance Pack (PPP). The Subaru Imrpeza WRX STI saw a few key changes over the standard Subaru Impreza WRX. This time, the addition of a 6-speed gearbox as opposed to the WRX 5-speed. Also a nice welcome was similar headlamps which were found on the UK300.


It didn't take long before Subaru had to give in to pressure from fans and go back to the drawing board (literally) to come up with a new style Subaru Impreza. So in 2002, Subaru announced yet another NewAge Impreza. The MY03. Main difference here was the front end. More or less everything else stayed the same, but those bug-eyed headlamps were out and replaced with slightly less ugly ones. Also a bigger bonnet scoop was included. Not to be outdone, the Subaru Impreza WRX power was increased by 10bhp. Not surprisingly many Bug-eyed Subaru Impreza's were made available on the 2nd hand market as many owners wanted to change their driveway accessory for the new style Subaru Impreza.

Although Turbo versions of the Subaru Impreza were available in Japan and Europe from more or less day one. The US favoured their muscle cars and not these Japanese breed of performance cars. Which meant the Subaru Impreza Turbo's never "officially" reached US soil until the 2002 model. Any previous Subaru Impreza's were Imports. Unfortunately for the US market the famous 2.0l boxer engine had to go. The fuel regulations in the US meant that the high performance expected from the Subaru Impreza could not be achieved from the 2.0l engine with US fuel. Instead, the Subaru Impreza was given a nice new 2.5l boxer engine for the US market, in order to keep the power and performance up.


Another Subaru WRC title win with Petter Solberg at the wheel. Once again sticking with tradition a new special edition was released, known as the Subaru Impreza WR1. I must admit the WR1 is one of my personal favourites, if only because of the unique Ice Blue colour. Only 500 WR1's were made, but Subaru decided to throw everything at it, including PPP and Driver Controlled Centre Diff (DCCD). The Subaru Impreza WRX STI also saw further improvements in 2004 with upgraded mechanics from the Japanese models. This new revised STI saw a new front diff, along with the DCCD system which was found on the WR1 and UK300 models. Nice!


Towards the end of 2005. Again just 2 years after the previous model was replaced, Subaru decided to release another new bodied Subaru Impreza, the MY06. This time with new crystal rear light cluster and yet another new front end. The jury is still out about whether or not it is a hit or a miss. I personally think it looks Awesome. Almost as though Subaru have forgotten the last 5 years and gone back to the aggressive styling of the original Subaru Impreza from the 90's! I admit, it did take a few days to get used to, but after you see past the SEAT grill and BMW headlamps you soon realise that this is the sort of car you want other people to see you in, in their rear view mirror. (Admittedly briefly as you scream past them shortly after words :) Sadly the MY06 marked the end for the traditional 2.0l boxer engine. Instead we saw the introduction of the 2.5l boxer engine into the Subaru Impreza. A sad end which seems to have gone relatively unnoticed. But then think of what they can do with that extra 500cubic centimetres of space. Mwaahaahaahaa!...


Towards the end of 2006. Subaru / Prodrive announced the realease of a new Special Edition Impreza. Sadly without recent success in the WRC. This time the special edition was to celebrate the life of previous Subaru WRC Champion Richard Burns who sadly died 12 months previously due to a brain tumour. The New Special Edition Subaru Impreza was to be named the RB320. That's 320bhp and a limited number of 320 to be produced. Essentially the RB320 is a 2006 model Subaru Impeza WRX STi PPP with just abotu ever add on you can think of, along with bespoke prodrive/blitsen dampers, exclusive obsidian black paint work, black alloys and full dront grill set. All in all making the RB320 very exclusive and ver agressive looking with only small markings on the passenger, drivers doors and boot lid of a small orange RB320 logo. The rest of the car is very much black in respect for the late Richard Burns. A true trubite to a great champion!



I have yet to come up with a word that describes Subaru in 2007. At the time of writing Subaru had recently announced the drascically redesigned 2008 model of the Subaru Impreza (You can see some photos here) Make your own mind up about what you think of it. My initial thoughts are yuk.. And I have to say my thoughts are still more or less the same. The car does NOT look agressive as it shoudl and just looks like any other family hatchback on the road. a fair pecentage of the Impreza's appeal has always been it's agressive shape and styling. Even teh bugeye version admitedly wasn't welcomed by many had the trademark styling that for every other angle you knew it was an Impreza and more importantly a car to be reckoned with!. This new one doesn't do much for me I'm afraid. Doesn't excite me when I see pictures of it like previous styles. The same recipie is still there usign the same 2.5l boxer engine from teh MY06 models, a new intercooler has been shoved in. Power remains teh same at 225ps for the WRX model, awd as standard of course :). However the tyres are narrower than previous versions. Also it's worth noting that at time of writing there are no plans for a WRX version or saloon version for the UK. Instead we'll have the basic models then a jump up to the STi's I see this as a mistake as the WRX hits a just about affordable market for most peopel who cant afford te £25k price of the STi. However somethign new for the MY08 Impreza will be the introduction of a 170bhp Diesel Impreza. Thats right diesel. Should be interesting...Watch this space...



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2016 SsangYong Tivoli seven-seater concept for Frankfurt
Concept for seven-seat SUV to be shown at Frankfurt

A seven-seater, long-wheelbase version of the Ssangyong Tivoli will be shown at the Frankfurt motor show this month.

The Ssangyong XLV-Air is described as a pre-production version of the long-bodied version of the Tivoli that is due to be launched early in 2016. Ssangyong has not revealed many details of the car yet, but has said it will bring more luggage space and a choice of 1.6-litre petrol and 1.6-litre diesel engines. It is expected to come with seven seats and will be offered with two or four wheel drive.

Also on the Ssangyong stand at Frankfurt is the XAV-Adventure, which is described as being a modern take on the Korando. Both cars have only been revealed as sketches now, with more information expected closer to the show.

A seven-seat version of the SsangYong Tivoli has previously been spotted testing.

The†prototype was spied out testing with a five-seat Tivoli and†appeared much longer around the C-pillar than its five-seat sibling to accommodate a third row seat and more interior space.

The manufacturer has made a commitment to release a new model every year up to 2020 so the seven-seater seems likely to reach these shores.

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Throwback Thursday - Ford?s electronic tech test bed, 4 September 1985
Ford made a real effort to develop a reputation for design technology in the 1980s, and the Eltec was one of the outcomes

During the 1980s Ford made a big effort to throw off its reputation for producing solid and reliable but hardly innovative cars and increase its focus on design and technology.

Out of that strategy came the Eltec, or ?Electronic Technology?, an advanced prototype car that pointed to the way in which the company?s top designers and engineers perceived the car of the 1990s.The Eltec was a collaboration between Ford?s R&D departments in Dunton and Cologne, plus the Ghia Design Studio in Turin. It was made to ?prove that even small family cars can benefit from electronic co-ordination of all their functions and that electronics can improve a car?s dynamics while reducing fuel economy and exhaust emissions?.

Built in less than 18 months for a Frankfurt show debut, the Eltec was bristling with ideas, as Autocar?s then technical editor Graham Jones described when he examined the car.?The body is a small, four-door hatchback configuration featuring a large glasshouse, a slippery shape and specially designed headlamps,? he wrote. ?A glass sunroof comprised five louvres that could be either opened for ventilation or electrically retracted.

?The suspension is of the active ride variety, with its own electronic brain to control spring rates and ride height. The central black box also controls electronic anti-lock brake and anti-wheelspin systems, while the dedicated wheel/tyre combination is of the run-flat type.?The engine and its control system were the stand-out features, presaging today?s trend for frugal downsized units.

?The 1.3-litre unit is brand new and develops 80bhp at 5000rpm and 88lb ft†between 2500 and 4000rpm,? wrote Jones. ?Designed and built as part of Ford?s lean-burn engine technology programme, the aims were to produce a power unit with compact dimensions, low internal friction and the ability to pull well from low engine speeds at the same time as producing good performance through the speed range.

?The engine is mated to Ford?s CTX continuously variable transmission, using the familiar belt and pulley drive arrangement. Next to the gear lever is a smaller lever which allows the Eltec driver to select either ?Power? or ?Economy? modes. In the latter, the transmission ratio is controlled so that engine speed is at its most efficient.

?What makes these developments significant is that they are integrated using a modified version of the EEC-IV computer fitted to the 2.0 EFi Granada and Sierra. Unlike conventional cars with onboard computers, which control the engine and transmission as separate entities, in the Eltec the computer regards them as one system.

?The computer not only matches the operation of the engine and CVT to the demands of the throttle pedal but also continuously fine-tunes the engine to provide the best possible fuel consumption. In short, Eltec could herald the age when an engine holds perfect tune permanently.?

While Ford?s top brass emphasised that the Eltec didn?t preview a specific production model, Autocar?s man wasn?t altogether convinced, and noted that ?a brand-new Escort is due in 1991?.

Previous Throwback Thursdays

4 March 1899 - Steam, electric or combustion engine?†

26 June 1906 - The first French Grand Prix

9 July 1907 - The beginning of Brooklands

14 February 1913 - 100 miles in one hour

8 April 1916 - Making post-war predictions

25 March 1922 - Caterpillar tracks are the future

4 July 1925 - CitroŽn lights up the Eiffel Tower

2 February 1934 - The ethics of skidding

6 July 1934 - A tour of Cowley

1 June 1935 - Introduction of the driving test

22 June 1945 - Driving through post-WW2 Europe

21 January 1949 - Tidier tails

25 August 1950 - The evolution of transmissions

24 April 1959 - Aston Martin enters Formula 1

27 January 1961 - Ford Thunderbird road test

17 November 1961 - TVR Grantura road test

19 August 1966 - Four-wheel drive on test

6 May 1971 - Driving Ford's Supervan

12 June 1976 - Cars for under £100

10 July 1976 - Land's End to John O'Groats on one tank

13 May 1978 - Ferrari 512 BB road test

19 January 1980 - Talbot Horizon road test

13 February 1982 - 4x4s tested on the farm†

17 April 1985 - Secrets of a lost British supercar

15 August 1990 - Giugiaro's vision of a 1990s Jaguar

28 April 1993 - BL's unseen concepts

16 March 1994 - Bentley's Concept Java

16 April 1997 - When Bugatti bit the dust

4 April 2001 - 0-260mph in 6.0 seconds

25 July 2001 - 180mph in a Chevrolet Corvette

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2016 Nissan Juke confirmed as part of £100m investment plan
Nissan?s next Juke will focus on improving its technology and perceived quality, and will continue to be built in Sunderland

The next-generation Nissan Juke will continue to be built in Sunderland, the company has confirmed, and will form part of an extra £100 million funding plan for the factory.

Nissan says that securing Juke production at Sunderland beyond 2020 has secured the jobs of 34,000 people both within the company and in the wider supply chain.

Nissan's European boss Paul Wilcox said: "With the next generation Juke now confirmed for future production, customers†can be assured that Nissan is going to remain the benchmark in the crossover†segment for many years to come.

?This announcement also gives security to our Sunderland plant beyond 2020,†which the team has earned through many years of hard work and their ability to†continually raise the bar on quality.?

Chancellor George Osborne praised the announcement, saying: "It?s†fantastic news that Nissan will be building their new car here in Sunderland and†securing valuable jobs for thousands of working people in the area.

?Our ambitious plan to build the Northern Powerhouse means building on the†area?s strengths ? including manufacturing - and this announcement is an†important sign of Britain being chosen as a global leader in car production.?

The next Juke is due to go on sale late next year and†will focus more on technology and interior quality than radical exterior restyling.

The Juke is largely credited with creating the burgeoning small crossover segment and has already had a subtle mid-life facelift that brought more safety kit, a new small turbocharged petrol engine and a wider range of personalisation options.

However, the existing car sits on the Renault-Nissan Alliance?s relatively elderly B0 platform and it faces ever stiffening competition as more manufacturers enter this area of the market. The Volkswagen Group, for instance, is expected to start launching its first small crossovers within the next 18 months.

The new Juke will switch to the CMF-B underpinnings also destined for the next Nissan Micra and next Renault Clio. This architecture brings improvements in production efficiency that will allow Nissan to ramp up the existing rate of 150,000 cars per year at its Sunderland plant.

It also offers considerable savings through economies of scale, which will free up money for Nissan to invest in the Juke?s weakest point: the perceived quality of its cabin.

?Customers tell us that the Juke still looks fresh,? a senior Nissan source told Autocar. ?So we don?t think the exterior styling really needs a major update. The gains will come through more efficient engines, better refinement and improvements in key areas of the interior.?

However, a bold concept car that pushes the Juke?s design further is expected in the next year to gauge public reaction.

The increased commonality with the Micra is likely to mean that the next Juke will get 1.0-litre three-cylinder engines for the first time.

The two models will go their separate ways on performance models, though. There?s likely to be another Juke Nismo but not a Micra Nismo.

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Cactus M is another sign of CitroŽn?s more simple future
The Cactus M?s pared-back approach could be rolled out across the whole brand

The Cactus M is the latest evidence of CitroŽn?s push to make its cars simpler. This is something started by the production C4 Cactus and likely to continue onto other models in the future.

This move towards simplicity is something that the Cactus M?s designer, Frťdťric Duvernier, says is possible in part due to the splitting of CitroŽn and DS into separate brands. With DS concentrating on making premium models, it allows CitroŽn to strip out unnecessary parts from its future models and keep them basic. It doesn?t mean a removal of all technology from a car. Safety equipment can be kept hidden, says Duvernier, while in-car tech can be left to smartphone manufacturers.

?Everything is too complicated,? he said. ?I think we can make a simple shell and not fill it up with gimmicks and technology.?

He says young colleagues, for example, are all buying older, simpler cars rather than more complicated modern ones.

The simple approach is not likely to be something restricted to smaller models either, with Duvernier even talking about taking unnecessary and overly complicated bits out of models such as the C4 Picasso.

But neither does the plan mean an end to the larger CitroŽns such as the C5 ?I believe there is a way to make a really nice flagship for CitroŽn,? Duvernier added. ?It will be very interesting. If you look back at the CX from the 70s - it was a huge success.?

This represents quite a shift from the recent past. As recently as 2008, CitroŽn launched the C5 with a marketing campaign that looked to align the car closely with its German rivals. It was styled to look like them, with sharp creases along the side. The only real head-nod to its flamboyant, French heritage was a choice between standard steel suspension or air suspension.

Even though it was not a bad car, the C5 certainly lacked some of the charm of the likes of the CX and other similar models from company?s range in the 1970s. Given that the C5 was not a roaring success in terms of its sales, a return to a self-confident CitroŽn range that makes the most of its heritage would be a welcome one. The Cactus, and Dacia?s low-frills approach, has shown that not every buyer wants a cabin packed with kit.

?The feel-good factor is one of the key things,? said Duvernier. ?There are plenty of mainstream cars that look alike. With our nice history we can offer something different by being colourful and joyful and feel-good.?

The Cactus may not be to everyone?s taste, but Citroen seems happy with that.

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles seeks merger with General Motors
FCA boss Sergio Marchionne is keen to merge with General Motors, but GM boss Mary Barra says the firm will go it alone

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles boss Sergio Marchionne is reportedly seeking a merger for his company with General Motors, but GM officials are cold to the idea.

Speaking to industry journal Automotive News Europe, Marchionne said a merger between the two companies would result in "cataclysmic changes in performance" for the two automotive giants. "I've gone through product by product, plant by plant, area by area, and I've analyzed them all," he said.

?I've obviously made some arbitrary assumptions about which architectures survive, which engines survive, and the only deal that offers them the same benefits as we potentially get ... is us.?

However, Marchionne has also said that GM officials have been cold on any negotiations, saying: "I've offered to sit down with them and take them through the numbers

?They won't listen. And that kind of abject refusal to engage ... the capital markets won't understand why you are rejecting the discussion.

?You may reject the deal but you can't reject the discussion. If you're refusing to talk to me, and you have seen nothing, you either think you're above it all, or you think the capital markets are full of schmucks that owe you something.?

For its part, a statement for General Motors says the company has "responded appropriately" to any "outreaches" that it has received.

GM boss Mary Barra said back in June that Marchionne had emailed her with proposals for a merger, but that the GM board gave "strong support" to the company continuing on its own parth. During a media briefing at GM's annual meeting, Barra said the propsal was: "very much vetted with management and our board, and after we reviewed that we are committed to our plan?and we have strong support."

"We have scale. We have leveraged the appropriate opportunities."

In Europe, Fiat-Chrysler is currently focusing on the relaunch of Alfa Romeo with the new Giulia, and on re-branding the Fiat brand into two distinct arms - dubbed 'emotional' and 'rational'.

Industry analyst Max Warburton has warned investors that merging FCA and GM would be "an operational and management nightmare" but concedes that "if anyone can smash through the issues and make it function, it would be Marchionne."

GM is seen as being the latest target of FCA's merger aspirations. Back in April, PSA Peugeot-CitroŽn ruled itself out of a merger with FCA, at least until the French firm had completed its 'Back in the Race' revival plan. In May of this year, FCA renewed its call for more mergers in the automotive industry.

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