Animal House

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I’m not looking forward to doing this. This is a 1999 Subaru Impreza 2.5 RS, which continues a long tradition of German and Japanese automakers naming their cars after fax machines. The problem is that this is fast Subaru, and fast Subarus are really difficult to get reliable information about. Let me give you an example: the official first-generation Subaru Impreza 2.5 RS forum (yeah, it’s a thing) requires an account to look at. Which leads us to the next problem: lax bros.

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The Subaru Impreza is not a car. For many people, it’s a mindset. A worldview. A way of life. For Impreza owners, the world is constantly seen through blue-tinted, turbocharged glasses. And that’s fine. Passion is a great attribute. Without it, the British sports car corners of the internet probably wouldn’t be so sick of me. However, Impreza fan’s passions don’t really end there. Some particularly secure and confident individuals feel the need to tell the unprompted world precisely what makes their Subaru faster, louder, awesomer and generally betterer than the rest of the unenlightened public’s cars.

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Now at this point it’s important to note that not all Subaru owners are like this. Many are genuinely kind, knowledgeable and friendly people. That is to say, not all Subaru owners are over-caffeinated frat boys who like to pair black socks with flip flops and overuse the words “yo” and “brah” while downing their fourth Natty Ice of the afternoon. And, as is the case with many things, extremism spoils it. This is the Android phone of cars; everyone who owns one vehemently leaps to defend it, teeth bared and claws drawn, whenever the topic arises. And the worst part is, there’s no need for it. Because the the Subaru Impreza, or this one at least, is actually quite a good little car.

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This is the 2.5 RS model, which was introduced in 1998 and helped to cement the Impreza’s legacy in the tuner world. It has a 2.5 liter turbocharged four-cylinder developing a healthy 165 horsepower and 166 pound-feet of torque, numbers which, while impressive outright, could be greatly improved in the hands of people who know what they’re doing (namely anyone who isn’t Matteo from Alpha Sigma Phi). It has a five speed manual and a truly fascinating all-wheel-drive system, meaning that the engine’s computers could split the car’s power equally between the front and rear wheels, depending on which end needs it. Symmetrical All Wheel Drive, as it is called, is one of Subaru’s crowning achievements, taking what they learned on the rally special stages and applying it to their street cars. You see? These are all very good things. There’s no need to crush a can of Red Bull against your forehead to demonstrate how tough you are for driving one.

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The 2.5 RS is also exceptionally balanced, partially because the Symmetrical All Wheel Drive system from the last paragraph is placed almost in the middle of the chassis,  and partially because the engine is what’s known as a “boxer,” which means it can beat up other engines. Not really. Well, kind of. A boxer configuration effectively means that instead of the cylinders being arranged in a line or in a “V” shape, they are laid out flat, which lowers the center of gravity and ultimately contributes to more predictable handling.

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The thing is, you can’t just buy this car. The car brings with it the Monster energy drink, Snapback wearing, “yo, you wanna go bro?” stigma. Which is a shame, because I really do like this car. I like the engine. I like the all wheel drive system. I like the kind of under-the-radar styling that the newer versions of the Impreza lost. This is a good car. But much like Doctor Who and Vineyard Vines, its fans are its worst enemy. Bro.

Additional Thoughts:

  • In 1998, this car came with gold wheels, much like the ones on this 1999 model (the owner of this particular car did some modifications).
  • The Impreza 2.5 RS is actually rarer than a Ferrari 360 Modena of the same era: Ferarri sold 16,000 Modenas, while Subaru sold only 14,000 Imprezas.
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4 thoughts on “Animal House

  1. Pingback: Déjà Vu All Over Again | Forgotten metal

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  4. Pingback: Forgotten Places: 2016 New York International Auto Show (Part 1) | Forgotten metal

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