Subaru, the car company that is all-wheel drive all the time, adds a sporty 2.5RS sedan as a companion to a similar coupe. The Impreza is the junior member of Subaru's car team, smaller and less expensive than the Legacy. In addition to the sedan and coupe, Impreza also comes as a station wagon. The Impreza also serves as the basis for Subaru's Forester sport utility vehicle. Impreza's current design is expected to last through the 2001 model year. Subaru joins most other manufacturers in providing 24-hour roadside assistance the first three years of ownership.
Subaru says the subcompact Impreza seats five, but given its 99-inch wheelbase and 67-inch width, the three in back better be thin and short. The trunk holds a modest 11 cubic feet of cargo, and the rear seatback doesn't fold for additional space on the coupe or sedan. All models are fully equipped, including air conditioning, a cassette player, power windows and locks and a rear defogger. The 2.5RS have eye-catching white-faced gauges, sport seats with side bolsters and racy checkered-flag upholstery.
The 2.5RS models are easy to tell from the L coupe and sedan because of their larger tires (16-inch instead of 15), alloy wheels, rear spoiler, larger fog lights and hood air intakes.
Under the Hood
All Subarus use engines with horizontally opposed cylinders (instead of in a line or V-configuration), also known as "flat" engines. The Impreza L coupe and sedan use a 2.2-liter four-cylinder with 142 horsepower. The 2.5RS models have a 2.5-liter four-cylinder with 165 horsepower. Both engines team with either a five-speed manual or four-speed automatic transmission. A permanently engaged all-wheel-drive system that distributes power "from wheels that slip to wheels that grip automatically" is standard across the board.
While more than a dozen other manufacturers duke it out with front wheel-drive small cars that are variations on the same theme, Subaru claims a unique marketing position with its sporty, AWD Impreza. Neither rain nor snow is likely to stop an Impreza.