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SUBARU WRX Models/Series Timeline, Specifications & Photos

Generations: 4
First production year: 2014
Engines: Gasoline
SUBARU WRX photo gallery

Subaru dropped the Impreza badge from the WRX version in 2014 and, by 2021, it launched the second generation of the acclaimed model on a completely different platform than the regular Impreza.

When Subaru introduced the WRX lineup as a top-performance version for the Impreza, it did it to emphasize the connection with the World Rally Championship, but FIA banned them from using the WRC lettering, thus resulting in the WRX version. By 2014, the WRX badge was even better known than the Impreza nameplate, so Subaru chose to create a different lineup named WRX.

In 2021, Fuji Heavy Industry, owner of the Subaru brand, introduced the second generation of the WRX, which didn’t share its platform with the rest of the Impreza range. The carmaker built it on its new Subaru Global Platform, and it includes more safety features than before.

The WRX featured a different front fascia with compact LED headlights and run-around daytime running lights, unlike the regular Impreza. Its hexagonal grille, with a wider upper area, sported the Subaru logo in the middle, while the front bumper was designed with a black lower side to cope better with stone chips. From its sides, the angular cuts for the wheel wells featured black plastic over fenders, similar to those used on SUVs.

Inside, the carmaker placed a tall, 11.6” touch-screen placed atop the center stack. The instrument cluster featured two wide analog dials that flanked an LCD between them for the onboard computer. For the top trim level, named GT, the carmaker added Recaro sport bucket-seats with specific embroidery.

Another important upgrade was for the 2.4-liter turbocharged flat-four engine under the hood. That sent its torque in all corners via an intelligent all-wheel-drive system via a six-speed manual or an eight-speed automatic gearbox.

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SUBARU WRX STI (S209) photo gallery

Not based on the fifth Subaru Impreza, which was unveiled at the 2016 New York Auto Show, but on the previous generation of the model, the WRX STI S209 is a limited edition model of the regular WRX. The special model was revealed at the 2019 Detroit Auto Show and represents the first time that an S-Line version is available outside the Japanese home market.

Only 209 units will be produced exclusively for the American market, mainly to celebrate the success of the regular but aging WRX STI, which is about to be replaced by an all-new generation based on the Subaru Global Platform.

Befitting of the lineage created by previous S-Line limited edition models, the WRX STI S209 is the most powerful and best handling Impreza-based production car in history. STI engineers have updated the turbocharged, 2.5-liter Boxer engine to deliver no less than 341 horsepower, with the suspension, Brembo braking system and chassis being upgraded to massively improve cornering speeds, traction and response.

The 209 cars are only available in two exterior colors - the traditional World Rally Blue Pearl and Chrystal White Pearl - while the 19-inch BBS alloy wheels are exclusive to the S209 as well, as are the bespoke Dunlop SP Sport Maxx GT600A tires.

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SUBARU WRX photo gallery

Subaru ditched the Impreza nameplate in 2014 when it launched the first generation of the WRX model, enraging the brand's fans, who were fond of the name that dominated the World Rally Championship in the early 2000s.

Subaru used the WRX nameplate as a version of the Impreza. It was the mild-powered model that preceded the top-trim level, the WRX STI. It was a fast car, very quick on launching thanks to its turbocharged engine and all-wheel-drive system. When Subaru decided to drop the Impreza nameplate, it kept the WRX to still be attractive to customers. And it was, especially since it was offered exclusively as a three-box sedan, not as a hatchback or station wagon anymore.

The Japanese automaker unveiled the WRX's first generation in 2014 for the 2015 model year. It was developed for the North American market to compete in the sport-compact segment. The car's front fascia featured headlights designed to mimic an eagle's eyes and flanked a black grille adorned with the automaker's blue badge. Subaru placed a trapezoidal-shaped lower grille on the lower side of the bumper for additional cooling and flanked by side scoops for the fog lamps. From its profile, the enlarged fenders featured fake vents. But at least the air intake from the hood was functional and provided cold air to the engine. The four-door sedan also featured wide rear quarter panels, creating a muscular look for the vehicle. At the back, Subaru installed a small lip spoiler on the trunk's lid, while underneath the vehicle, the carmaker added four pipes, two on each side of the car.

Since the Impreza was never a landmark in terms of comfort and luxurious interiors, the WRX continued the same with a cabin that looked rather cheap than premium. Customers complained about the car's poor infotainment system. Even though it featured touch controls, it lacked a tuning knob, and the resolution of the 6.2” screen was low. Still, the high-bolstered bucket seats at the front provided excellent side support for high-speed cornering maneuvers. The driver fronted an instrument cluster filled with two large dials for the tachometer on the left and the speedometer on the right. Between them, Subaru installed a small TFT display for information from the car's onboard computer. In the back, the flat bench was available with a split-folding seatback that enlarged the trunk area.

But the car's main attributes relied on the technical platform. Subaru used its famous flat-four engine, only upgraded with direct fuel injection and helped by a turbocharger. The automaker offered the 2015 WRX with either a sleek six-speed manual or with a CVT tuned for performance named Lineartronic. Like the Impreza before it, the WRX featured the well-known symmetrical all-wheel-drive system that sent power in all corners via an electronically controlled center differential.

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SUBARU WRX STI photo gallery

In 2013 Subaru dropped the name Impreza from its list and used only the former versions: the WRX STI. Fortunately, it didn't drop the performance compact sedan.

The Subaru Impreza won six titles in the World Rally Championship between 1995 and 2003: three for the team and three for the drivers. The three letters, WRX meant World Rally eXperimental. But it was a successful experiment with 122 podiums in 193 races between 1995 and 2008 when the race-program was ended due to the world financial crisis.

The 2013 WRX STI was launched with a pedigree behind. The car was known both on the streets and on the tracks. It dropped the hatchback version and returned to the sedan version and that was a plus for those who were looking for a family sedan with good performance. The air-scoop on the hood was typical for the Impreza and it was kept. Narrower headlights flanked the Subaru hexagonal grille. It was a more powerful stare thanks to new standard LED low-beam headlights.

The cabin was roomier than the predecessor, due to a longer wheelbase. For the driver, a flat-bottom steering wheel with tilt and telescoping adjustments was installed. The standard Recaro bucket-seats added a racy touch to the vehicle. The STI Design electroluminescent gauge panel featured a new 3.5-in. central LCD screen that displayed various functions, including low-level warnings for oil and windshield washer fluid and the selected gear.

The drivetrain included the well-known symmetrical all-wheel-drive Subaru system, equipped with the new Multi-Mode Driver Controlled Center Differential. The front limited-slip differential and the rear Torsen LSD helped the car in corners. Under the hood, there was the 2.5-liter boxer engine aided by a turbocharger. The only transmission available was a 6-speed manual.

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