The made-in-Japan Subaru Impreza leads a double life when it’s abroad. In North America it’s a pleasant but somewhat quirky little econo-box that rarely gets a second glance. In Europe (where quirky is normal) the Impreza gets instant recognition and respect as a rally car champion.
The Impreza first entered the Canadian market in 1993 as a ’94 model year vehicle. Initially it was available in both two-wheel-drive as well as four-wheel-drive (AWD) versions. There were two trim levels, L and LS and it came as a 4-door sedan or a nice looking 5-door sport wagon.
The quirky stuff starts under the hood where originally the only engine was a 1.8 litre horizontally opposed (flat boxer-type) four-cylinder engine rated at 110 hp. Not a racer by any means yet, the low horsepower figure doesn’t tell the whole story as this engine offers good torque (pulling power) at low rpm. A hill-holder, with manual transmission versions, is another only-on-a-Subaru feature that makes an uphill slope take-off considerably easier, for a novice clutch user.
A coupe, with a sporty rear spoiler, was added to the Impreza line in ’95. Subaru also dropped the base ‘L’ version of the wagon for this model year and only sold it in the higher priced L-plus trim. And that’s why the price chart below doesn’t follow a normal progressive depreciation pattern.
A new Outback version of the wagon, with off-road aspirations, was introduced in ’96. This dirt-loving Impreza came with a bigger 2.2 litre engine, 4-wheel disc brakes with an anti-lock system. The 2.2 litre engine made a big improvement in overall performance and was also offered as an option on other versions of the 1996 Impreza. Dual air bags, power door locks and mirrors and all-wheel-drive were also made standard on every Impreza.
A new low-priced Brighton Sport Wagon was added to the Impreza line in ’97 and the Outback version had a front-end redesign to separate it even further from other Imprezas.
Some ’93 Impreza sport wagons with all-wheel-drive were recalled for a fuel leakage problem. A modified replacement fuel vent pipe will correct the problem. Tow hooks that are too close to the ground can cause unintended airbag deployment on a 1994 and ’95 Impreza’s, if they contact a high curb, speed bump or deep pothole, etc..
The flat-four engine has a long timing belt that’s prone to belt noise and should be replace by 96,000 km. Head gasket oil leaks are also common on these engines but in general it’s are fairly reliable unit. Fuel consumption figures for the 2.2 litre motor with a 5-speed manual transmission are 10.8/7.6 L/100 km – city/highway.
Subaru is a leader in all-wheel-drive and even through this technology is growing in popularity the market potential is still relatively small. A good used Impreza may be a little harder to find but it can offer the bad weather traction advantages of all-wheel-drive in a low-cost, compact, reliable and fuel-efficient package.
Used vehicle prices vary depending on factors such as general condition, odometer reading, usage history and options fitted. Always have a used vehicle checked by an experienced auto technician before you buy.