The second press release for the MY2003 with the announcement of specifications for the UK market and prices.
Faster, safer, more economical and with a striking restyle, Subaru's new-look Impreza is now on sale, costing £19,995 on-the-road for the WRX saloon - down by £1,500, despite many safety and performance improvements.
The WRX 5-door is priced at £20,495 - a reduction of £1,500 - and the STi Type UK is now £24,995 compared to £27,495 for the previous Prodrive-Style version which it effectively replaces.
Initial production capacity is being devoted exclusively to the WRX and STi models which are available from late January 2003.
So successful was the run-out campaign on the old model that the introduction of WRX and STi models has been brought forward.
The new 2.0 litre GX Sport saloon and 5-door will not be available until spring 2003 when prices will be announced.
Boasting a totally different front-end, the new-look Impreza combines an aggressive presence with pedestrian-friendly safety features and improved aerodynamic efficiency.
However the surprise news is higher top speeds for all models combined with better fuel economy and lower emissions.
For example, the 265 PS Impreza WRX STi now has a 151.5mph top speed (up by 3.5mph) while the 2.0 litre GX Sport automatic gives 43.5mpg on the Extra Urban Cycle - an improvement of 5.8mpg.
Exhaust emissions are down for all models meaning Benefit-In-Kind tax reductions for most company car drivers.
Despite enjoying a power and performance boost, owners of the new 225 PS WRX will find themselves in the 27% tax band for 2003-2004. The previous model would have been in the 32% band.
Copyright © Subaru
The facelift is shared with the 2003 World Rally Car which will benefit from a similar reduction in drag coefficient and improved high-speed stability.
Unlike some WRC competitors, Subaru has always striven to ensure its road cars inherit the technical and design DNA of its rally machines.
Key design changes include a new front bumper, spoiler, bonnet, wings and 3-dimensional headlamps. In addition, circular lamps are inlaid in the main headlamp units themselves which have a striking curved dip to their inner edges.
A strong flowing character-line sweeps from the lower edge of the circular headlamps and runs over the more steeply sloping bonnet to the windscreen. The top edge of the bumper is rounded, giving a sleeker look with improved airflow.
The front wings now have a muscle-bound appearance and this menacing presence is complemented by larger air-intakes both above and below the number plate.
In order to improve cooling performance, both the WRX and WRX STi Type-UK have larger bonnet air scoops - the former heightened by 20 mm and the latter by 30mm.
At the rear, all models have new bumpers and light units with a curved dip to their inner edges - similar to the headlamps - to enhance design integration.
Copyright © Subaru
The WRX STi gains a larger high-rise rear spoiler - previously only available on the Prodrive Style version - front corner spoilers and new side sill spoilers. These all contribute to improved high-speed stability. Meanwhile, a larger bonnet air intake enhances intercooler performance.
The drag coefficient for all saloons is now 0.33 Cd with the GX Sport 5-door recording 0.34 Cd and the WRX 5-door 0.37 Cd.
Big news for WRX fans is an increase in power from 218 PS to 225 PS at the same 5,600 rpm. This turbocharged 2.0 litre 'boxer' engine also produces more torque which grows from 215.4 lb ft at 3,600 rpm to 221.3 lb ft at 4,000 rpm.
Top speed rises by 3 mph to 143 mph for the WRX 5-door, while the saloon now reaches 144 mph. Both versions have quicker 0-60 mph times with the saloon recording 5.6 seconds and the 5-door 5.8 seconds.
The WRX engine has been retuned to run on 98 octane fuel but efficiency gains mean improved economy. For example, the car now gives 39.8 mpg on the Extra Urban Cycle and 30.7 mpg Combined - improvements of 4 mpg and 3 mpg respectively. However, the WRX can still be run on 95 Octane fuel.
Equally important is improved throttle response thanks to revisions to the exhaust manifold aimed at smoothing the flow of exhaust gases, increased boost pressure and a new engine management system. Both the valve gear and exhaust system have been modified for even better durability during conditions of extreme heat.
Meanwhile, the cooling performance of the 265 PS STi engine has benefited from a change in the shape of the intercooler water spray nozzle and the air baffle plate installed inside the air scoop.
The STi also has improved front suspension thanks to strengthened mounts for the transverse linkages and new cross-performance rods. As a result, handling and steering response are even better thanks to a reduction in geometry change during hard cornering.
Both the WRX and naturally-aspirated 2.0 litre Impreza also have crisper handling characteristics, with increased steering precision - already highly praised by road-testers and customers alike.
Also helping sharpen handling are sophisticated new shock-absorbers featuring multiple-layer valves. This means damping forces are optimised in various speed ranges, with enhanced ride comfort as an added bonus.
All new-look Imprezas also have revised steering. Now with a variable-capacity steering pump, the system combines even greater straight-line stability at speed with a lighter, more sensitive feel during low-speed manoeuvring.
New, high-quality cloth is used throughout the 2003 Model Year Impreza range with each model having its own pattern and character.
In addition, there will be a new luxury WRX model later in the year badged 'SL'. This features factory-fit black leather seat trim, heated front seats and an electric sunroof. The saloon will cost £21,495 and the 5-door £21,995 on-the-road.
On all models the centre console which houses the audio and heating controls is now in a dark metallic tone instead of being silver-coloured.
Sporty changes for the WRX include gun-metallic finish wheels and the repositioning of the rev-counter to the centre of the instrument display like the STi. The STi itself gains a new, smaller-diameter (375 mm) Momo steering wheel and blue carpets to match the seats and door trim.
Like the new Forester, the new-look Impreza GX Sport has active front head-restraints which reduce the risk of whiplash injuries. The brake pedal is now energy-absorbing, being designed to snap away under severe impact, protecting the driver's lower limbs. In the rear seat are two ISOFIX-compatible child seat mountings.
The passenger airbag is now dual-stage which provides progressive protection matched to the severity of the impact and the standard anti-lock brakes (ABS) now come with electronic brakeforce distribution (EBD). This juggles the braking force between front and rear wheels according to load shifts during deceleration.
All WRX models will now come with side airbags in combination with high-backed rally-type front seats. Previously, side airbags were only available on the WRX saloon when fitted with standard seats.
Outside, pedestrian injury is reduced thanks to a more rounded contour to the top of the front bumper, a gently curved bonnet and windscreen wipers which crush, softening any impact.
Extra security measures shared with the new Forester include deadlocking and special shields around the driver's door lock.
In addition, all Imprezas continue to benefit from keyless-entry central-locking and a Category One remote alarm/immobiliser. The WRX STi Type-UK also has a satellite tracking system.
Page last updated 16th March 2003
Copyright © 2003 Steve Breen + Subaru UK
All photographs on this page (unless otherwise stated) copyright © Steve Breen and may not be reproduced in anyway without permission.