It's the Reason America Finally Got the WRX STI

The 2.5RS Is the Unsung Hero of the Subaru Impreza Family


April 16, 2019 Cars By
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While most of the world watched Subaru dominate the World Rally Championship in the mid-’90s while simultaneously enjoying the fruits of those labors in the form of the race-bred road-going Subaru WRX STI, those of us the United States were left wanting. But in 1998, to test the waters, Subaru gave us the Impreza 2.5RS—and the success of that car is the reason Subaru finally brought the WRX to our shores in 2001.

The two-door Impreza 2.5RS, like the one above, is somewhat of the last of its kind, in that Subaru stopped making coupe versions of the now-legendary performance sedan in 2000. Considering it also  “first high-performance Subaru Impreza in the US” status, and the 2.5RS seen here might be a collector car someday.

That said, this particular 2.5RS currently on sale on Bring a Trailer isn’t exactly in show-car condition, but it is an affordable way to get a taste of early-2000s AWD entertainment. From the factory, the Impreza 2.5RS pumped out 165 horsepower and 167 lb-ft of torque from its 2.5-liter flat four engine before sending that to all four wheels. With such a short wheelbase, the handling was sharp and responsive—the sort of behavior pro drivers might describe as “lively.”

The interior and exterior are in decent condition, except for a bit of corrosion on the undercarriage and in the engine bay—but for a car that spent its life in the Salt Belt and is showing 88,654 miles on the odometer, it’s par for the course. And the relative lack of aftermarket parts make this Impreza a bit of a rarity, as a lot of ’90s Japanese performance cars were modified to hell and back; this Subaru’s owner only added Borla headers and a cat-back exhaust to help the flat-four engine breathe a little better.

As of this writing, this 2000 Subaru Impreza 2.5RS is currently listed at $3,100 with two days left on the auction block, but don’t count on it staying that low; other examples of the 2.5RS from the same year with more than double the miles are selling elsewhere for a little over $10,000. Is owning a unique slice of Subaru history worth that kind of money? If you’ve ever driven one, the answer is an obvious yes.

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