2001 Subaru Impreza WRX vs STi – With Richard Hammond


Typical, isn’t it? You’ve finally got your dream car; ‘Subaru Impreza Turbo WRX’ And there you are, you have arrived. The hottest kid in town, the coolest guy on the block. Unbeatable. And then what happens, to completely ruin your day? ‘Subaru’ go and introduce, a new one. Thank you very much. The launch, of any car, that enjoys the kind of, cult status, enjoyed but the ‘Impreza Turbo’, is one tense moment. Get it right, the world will love you. Get it wrong, well, I’ll call you some very nasty names. So, let’s establish right from the start; they haven’t got it wrong at ‘Subaru’. There’s nothing wrong with the car, it’s just the case of whether they’ve got it, just right with the degree of compromise. The thing is, it would be very easy for a car, as supremely competent as the ‘Impreza’, to be, well, lacking a bit in personality. But, because, at it’s heart, there is that glorious, flat-four, boxer formation, engine. Belting out, apart from the power, just that fantastic noise. And it’s the way it delivers the power as well. Torquey. Chunky. It’s a really characterful engine to drive. It may look slightly dopier, in fact, it does look slightly dopier, lets be honest about it. But it’s not lost the edge when it comes to driving. Which is just as well, because that engine is quite capable of throwing you at corners, at speed. You need to be able to get through them, and you will. The four-wheel drive system, still race-bred, still one of the best on the road. It’s enormous fun, huge amounts of grip. Not so many years ago – god I love this noise – a car that gave, this kind of performance, well, it had yet to be invented. And then when it was available, you’d have had to sell your house and your neighbours’, to buy it. Now, though, at what? £22,000. It’s phenomenal value. You’re buying a supercar. For, ordinary company car, run-about, money. It’s incredible. The thing is, the ‘Impreza’ is like no other. A car that is full of contradictions. What have you got? Underneath, it is a supercar, undeniably, but then it looks, well, supremely sensible. And then again, sometimes, it doesn’t look sensible at all, it looks like this. It’s mad. I’ve said, that the looks of the new ‘WRX’, are a little tame. And it begins to look even more cuddly, when it’s along side the older model. Straight, angular lines, have been replaced with flowing curves. And, spoilers and bonnet intakes, have been tamed. Yep, the new ‘WRX’ is a shape, that even your granny would approve of. It’s not just the looks that have been compromised on the new ‘WRX’ though. It’s the drive, which in the new car, is noticeably more, consenting and comfy. Than the previous model. Especially compared to this particular model. Which is, shall we say, not entirely, standard. Lets put it this way; how does 300 brake horsepower sound? Oh yea, that’s what the ‘Impreza Turbo’, used to be about. Immediately… This thing is just… oh… it’s, it’s… oh, it is. I mean, you know, it always has been, and, it still is. It’s a beast of a thing. But look,we’ve gotta be fair here, because this isn’t entirely standard, this is an ‘STI’. And, they didn’t used to bring it into the UK, officially, when it was around. So, this would have been a Japanese import. So, it would have been a bit more nutty. You’d always would’ve had a bit more power, than the current one. But this has been further boosted, to about, 300 brake horsepower. It’s been lowered on the suspension, and a few other spoiler parts. But it’s not far off, a direct comparison, between old and new, ‘WRX’. This is just a more basic feel. We’re on lower profile tyres. So you can feel, every, single, ripple. And the steering, is just impossibly direct. Think through your fingertips, and it changes directions, before you’r even aware you wanna go that way. It really is. You wear the car, you don’t just drive it. That sounds corny, but it is true. Ha, nope, there is no doubt about it. The old ‘Impreza’ is by far and away, the sharper and more brutal, of the two cars. But maybe it’s time is done. It’s completed the job, it was given, to set out to do. And that was, to become and icon, and to put ‘Subaru’ on the map. So maybe the company did the right thing, in letting the new car grow up, just a little bit. Let it stray just a little further, into the realms of comfy. But don’t let that fool you, because the ‘Impreza’ is still one hot car.

80 comments

google 007LicensePlate. You can hide the plate at any car/bike show. Its a battery powered License Plate Kit

22 thousand pounds = 36676.20 US dollars, now with the cost of inflation 36k=48,245.17 dollars SHIT THAT MEANS the wrx of 2001 is a audi a5 convertible, or a bmw m1, audi tt… damn money

I own an '01 WRX and I'm very satisfied with it, yes I'd prefer the old '98 model myself sometimes, but sometimes we have to settle on second best!

i´ve the 1999 subaru gt, in the begining i don´t like the buged eye, but now i think is a beautiful car, after many years. thank you richard hammond 

The 22B is my pick. The look is so much more sporty and mean. Even the 2014 WRX isn't as good lookin' as the 98' 22B! (But it is in terms of performance.)

I made a mistake by selling my Sti 04..
But the 4 Years, I hve started missing it and fortunately, I managed to get another Sti JDM..
No way of selling it again

Now if they would get rid of the annoying background music, you may have a video worth watching… Someone on the production team needs to get fired for mucking it up.

what rim size is on the white GC8? I'm thinking maybe 18inch I'm looking to make mine look as nice as the one in this video

And I agree with Hammond, the bugeye is a sleeper looking car even when stock can surprise you, I know because I've had mine for 7 years now still love it.

Bug eye is the ugliest generation. Ugly tail lights and the front is meh. Seen so many people swap the tail lights for 04 ones

IMPRETZA! COME ON… it's an IMPREZA now i can't stop saying Subaru Impretzel in my head.

This video absolutely did not give me what i expected out of it. the title suggests he was going to compare the WRX to the WRX STI and give some differences in specs and feel. total let down

I own a gf8 and I think the gc8/gf8 generation is the best looking subaru. I used to hate how the bug eye looked. but it starts to grow on you. and now I see it more as cute, than hideous.

The wrx and the sti has different feature including a 6 speed that you don't get in the first gen sti only the other sti generation who cares it's just a suby

Jesus that bugeye was disgusting! but then it looked the best of all of them when they out in the twin headlamps with the black covers lol… go figure

It's not that the bug eye is ugly but the extra 200kg of weight is what puts me off it. I like the rear of the bug eye/hawkeye and the front of the gc8 the most. The gc8 looks closest to my dream car the r32 gtr though so I'm biased.

I'll take the turbo gt over the WRX any day. Looks way better and it's 200kg lighter. Building a track car soon using the gt turbo

I remember defending this design to my car friends back in high school 18 years ago…18 years later…no regrets. It looks even better

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