Owner Review

1999 Subaru Impreza WRX (AWD) review

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I would like to introduce our MY99 Subaru Impreza WRX. This car has been in my family for around 15 years. The car is completely standard, just as it left the factory back in 1998.

The WRX followed on from the original Liberty/Legacy RS as a four-door, turbocharged, all-wheel-drive performance sedan. It is the first application of the EJ20 Turbo engine, an engine that in its most basic form has been in production for around 25 years. It is also the same model of car that Peter Phelps from the TV show Stingers would drive as an undercover police officer when I was a kid.

In comparison to modern vehicles, the car is quite compact dimensions-wise. It is exceptionally light for a four-door vehicle weighing in at around 1200kg. It features dual driver and passenger airbags and frameless windows. Subaru provided an upgraded pin-code security system at no cost to existing owners.

The low kerb weight, small dimensions and sports-oriented suspension create a nimble car to drive with very neutral and stable behaviour through the corners. The engine needs to rev beyond 3000rpm before it starts to generate significant boost and is out of breath by 6500rpm. Featuring a five-speed manual transmission with short ratios, it can be a bit busy on the highway revving at 3000rpm at 110km/h. I have found that the clutch engages quite late in the travel of the pedal and is very stiff to operate.

As far as maintenance goes, we have replaced a camshaft position sensor and a leaking oil feed line to the turbocharger. The timing belt has been replaced as per the Subaru recommended service intervals. The accessory belts and pulleys require frequent attention to keep everything in alignment. The battery constantly drains itself if the vehicle is left parked for more than a week. There has been no sign of premature head gasket failures yet; something that the EJ20T engine is quite renowned for. The car averages around 9L/100km and must run on at least 95-octane petrol.

Twenty years later, the WRX has clocked up over 240,000km. It is still able to provide plenty of excitement on my favourite back roads. A quick downshift to third or fourth gear and there is always ample grunt for overtaking. The car is great fun to drive on local unsealed roads and has proven to be reliable in the long term.