2003 Impreza New Car Test Drive
Subaru has an all-new Impreza lineup for 2002. Value-oriented models are gone, replaced by high-performance models. Headlining this exciting lineup is the WRX, one of the most exciting new models from anyone this year, especially for rally fans. Though based on an economy car, the WRX is a factory hot rod that combines turbocharging, four-wheel drive, rally breeding, and attitude.
The all-new Impreza lineup for 2002 includes an updated 2.5 RS four-door sedan and a 2.5 TS Sport Wagon. Also based on the Impreza is a new Outback Sport wagon. The WRX is available as a sedan and a sport wagon.
The WRX is currently one of the hottest tickets on the automotive scene. Part of what makes it so hot is its 227-horsepower turbocharged engine. Knowledgeable rally enthusiasts have been lusting for this type of car for years. The WRX began in Japan in 1993 as a homologation special, a limited-production model built to satisfy production requirements for the World Rally Championship. Hugely popular in Europe, the WRC is a series of races run on all types of roads, often unpaved, and in all kinds of weather. Subaru's turbocharged all-wheel drive is particularly well suited to for driving flat out on gravel roads at night. Rally-prepared Subarus have been available in Japan and Europe for several years, but the WRX is the first that meets U.S. emissions requirements. Subaru Impreza Outback Sport is a subcompact for the snowbelt. Its all-wheel drive will get you home when you probably shouldn't have been out, as well as provide extra traction and handling on wet pavement. It's all new for 2002.
Like the other Impreza models, this year's Outback Sport boasts a new chassis and styling, and a larger standard engine. (See nctd.com for review of the sporty Impreza 2.5 RS and WRX models.)
The Outback Sport's spunky 2.5-liter engine and all-wheel drive push this outdoorsy wagon out of the budget wheels category. Subaru recognizes this by equipping it with features usually optional on entry level models. The price, starting at $18,695, also pushes it well above small wagons such as the Kia Rio Cinco or the Ford Focus wagon. But then, the Outback Sport offers much more.
The 2002 Impreza model lineup is composed of five models. A WRX sedan and wagon, an RS sedan and a TS wagon. Also available is the Impreza-based Outback Sport wagon (see separate review of the Outback Sport at NewCarTestDrive.com).
Like all Subarus, they feature all-wheel drive.
Except for the WRX, all Imprezas are powered by a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine rated at 165 horsepower. The engines feature Subaru's horizontally opposed cylinder layout, which lowers the hood line and the center of gravity.
WRX models are powered by a turbocharged and intercooled 2.0-liter engine that generates 227 horsepower.
There is a choice of five-speed manual or four-speed automatic, the latter with Subaru's advanced Variable Torque Distribution AWD.
The 2.5 RS comes with an extensive list of standard equipment, including an 80-watt AM/FM/CD audio system, air conditioning, power locks and mirrors, cruise control and leather-wrapped steering wheel. Subaru has positioned the Outback Sport to appeal to people who are practical or outdoorsy or both.
The $18,695 Outback Sport, like all Subarus, comes standard with full-time all-wheel drive, anti-lock brakes, 16-inch alloy wheels, air conditioning, power door locks and windows, tilt steering column, cruise control, 60/40 split fold-down rear seats, ambient temperature gauge, tachometer, and fog lights. Like a tiny SUV, it comes with a rubber cargo mat in back.
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