The 1999 model was officially released here in the UK at the 1998 NEC Motorshow, but the car officially appeared first in Australia. This was a first for Subaru where a car was unvieled never seen before somewhere other than Japan. The NEC was the turn of the new Legacy (although the new B5 has superceeded this).
Never to stand still there were changes both internally and externally.
The car is fitted with what is being termed as "phase 2" engine. This has been seen in the Legacy last year but does NOT refer to the number of turbo chargers fitted as was speculated when it was first announced. :-( Power is up with a quoted specification of 218ps/160kW. Owners report that the car does in fact feel faster than their previous model and rolling road figures from IWOC members have shown there is about 10bhp increase from the previous models. The blow off valve is now different and is mounted directly to the intercooler. Internal mod to head, now with roller rockers. New gearbox to get over the 2nd gear changing problems seen (?!) Probably talking about the gearbox upgrade that happened from MY97 to MY98 which brought a shorter throw change. The MY96 to MY97 also had an improved change as it was possible to beat the gearbox on MY96 and earlier cars.
The front end of the car has been revised to give it a bit more agressive look. The new front bumper only has one (instead of 2) horizontal slits outside the foglights and has 1 little orange vent on each side (at the bottom of the bumper). Similar in looks to the 22B. Above this is a new honeycomb front grill and two new headlights. Both main head and fog lights are multi-parabola lights similar to that seen on VW Golfs (no lensing). Note they are still fog lights and even dealers and early car reviews were getting confused stating they are now driving lights.
At the back the MY99 now comes as standard with the higher MY98 type STi/Prodrive type Rear Spoiler.
The available colour range has been revised with reddish blue deleted. There is a new dark blue mica, and dark silver. Other colours available are white, red, and green mica.
With the new MY99 improved so much what can Prodrive offer us? The rear wing is standard now, so they have upped the game and an item similar to the new STi wing as seen on the 22B is offered. Unique to Prodrive though, this wing has the rear brake light mounted higher (the 22B is at boot level) and from the looks of it probably not as wide (to match a non flared wheel arched car). With the new STi sourced brakes, the old Supertourismo wheels no longer fit. So new in are WRC replica 6 spoke Speedline ST2 just like Colin uses on the tarmac events. For further details and pictures see the Prodrive page.
The fourth UK special edition was released called the RB5 to celebrate Richard Burns joining the Subaru WRC Team. Why 5? His car number he is driving in the World Rally Champonship is 5. The official Subaru UK Press Release is available here.
WR Sport Performance Package:-
Rather than concentrating on unusable top end power the Performance Package developes most of its benefit in the all important mid-range where it is in its element for over taking and real world driving.
N.B. the WR Sport Performance Package did not include as standard the Prodrive Suspension upgrade.
Ok how about a picture.....;-)
Note this is the RB5 with the performance package (as indicated by the rear wing). Also its GREY! Steel blue indeed.
If you want a BIG 976x637 (137k) picture then click here © Subaru UK.
The RB5 has been awarded a number of times and won quite a few head to head road car tests in various magaazines. The main characteristic that wins people over is the handling and EVO pronounced mid 99 that the RB5 was the best handling Impreza ever. It should be noted though that basically under the Steel Blue paintwork the RB5 is an MY99 with 17in wheels. There is effectively no difference in the suspension department.
The other confusion lays with many magazines only testing and thus concluding the RB5 comes with the performance pack as standard which is not the case. Remember that this was an option and again any MY99 or MY00 can have exactly the same Prodrive Performance Pack fitted. The June 2000 EVO magazine also incorrectly states in their Impreza history that this pack breaks and cancels the warranty.
For details of the definative 1999 UK Special Edition see the 22B-UK section in the Impreza Special Edition section. You will also find details of the more normal special edition too, the RB5. ;-)
There was an official import of WRX STi to Australia in 1999. A batch of 400 Australianised 2 door coupes were delivered to Australia, whilst there were still mutterings of the STi might be coming to good old blighty "soon". For details of the Australianised STi R see the Impreza Special Edition section.
EVO magazine put the new MY99 4 door up against the Honda Accord type R in their December 1998 issue. With a 5 star rating the new MY99 won the test. "The Impreza gives so much for so little effort, in both performance and handling, it makes any driver like Colin McRae. The moment you drive off, you know your in something special, and everything just happens from there just endorses that feeling...there isn't another saloon for less than £30,000, possibly £40,000 that satisfies like an Impreza."
CAR magazine put the MY99 up against the new Audi TT in the January 1999 issue. Even though the Audi is a much newer car, with out rageous styling and a build quality almost second to none the Impreza still won the day.
If the standard model is getting all of these improvements then what with the WRX STi models be getting over and above the standard export model? Details are sketchy but so far....
- Rear wing similar in style as per STi-22B
- Boxer-Master 4 (phase 2) from the Legacy, with the sequential turbos replaced with a single turbo.
- Dark silver, light silver, white and black colours available.
- Inverted strut suspension
- Red halo trimmed seats
Page last updated 29th April 2001
Copyright © 1996/7/8/9/2000/1 Steve Breen
All photographs on this page (unless otherwise stated) copyright © Steve Breen and may not be reproduced in anyway without permission.