Subaru Impreza S-GT Turbo (WRX) - JDM Spec.
Original Japanese Market Supplied. Low Mileage and with Zero Corrosion in Excellent Condition.
Share this Vehicle
The third-generation Impreza was the first hot hatch of the Subaru 4WD Turbo rally-inspired breed, introduced in early 2007 to Japan as a first market. In one fell swoop it replaced the saloon & SWB wagon models all at once, although later in 2008, Subaru also re-introduced the 4-door, as a result of ongoing success and whilst continuing development. Production of 3rd generation performance Impreza models continued until 2014, culminating in the highest performing NBR models. This design, first introduced in 2007 had changed completely from the previous generation. The interior was now improved, with better quality cloth, seats & scratch-resistant plastics. Pillarless windows were now discontinued in order to reduce wind noise at speed. The familiar Subaru parking light switch on the steering column, which owners barely ever used was now discontinued too. Flick the 2.0 litre 250 bhp turbocharged boxer engine into life and it sounds like an Impreza, too. A little quieter certainly, but the offbeat warble Subaru is known for gently percolates through the interior. The five-speed ’box is familiarly sweet, with an easy precision. The ride is relaxed, absorbing small imperfections and big undulations decisively, yet when you start to push it, the talents of the low centre of gravity and clever 4WD system + Subaru’s chassis engineering knowhow shine through instantly, to let you know it’s plenty capable. Subaru made an effort to control the weight of the new chassis. Despite the increase in size, stiffness, and safety equipment, the car's weight is similar to the previous generation. The front suspension uses the widely employed MacPherson strut design while the rear featured new double-wishbone suspension, to maximise geometry compliance and handling. This early S-GT Impreza represents a lot of performance hatch for the money, perfectly suited to the U.K.’s changeable seasonal rainy & snowy weather and frequent low grip conditions with its talented rally developed 4WD system.
Equipment levels on this Impreza are excellent and not least they’ve also been enhanced with some performance additions. As with all Japanese market cars, specification is high, both inside and out, but that would be missing the point. Subaru’s engineering has always been their main talent and there’s no exception for this example. The drivetrain is sophisticated and well above comparable levels of other cars, having permanent 4WD and a chassis with a relatively low centre of gravity, given in part by the proven low-slung boxer 4 EJ20 engine. Safety features are abundant, not just with airbags which all modern cars tend to have, but chassis strength and integrity too.
The Styling still looks fresh, today – not least, aided by the relative rarity of recent models of Subaru Impreza found on U.K. roads today. The black paint is in excellent condition, having been well cared for throughout its life. Subaru's full Aero package is included. An original Subaru dealer option rear spoiler and genuine STi front splitter also help enhance the sports look. The side repeaters are neatly integrated within the mirrors and there are integrated driving lights set into the front bumper. Headlights are effective at lighting night roads, being factory HID. A set of Prodrive forged alloy wheels set the car off well too. STi badges are discreetly added, although if preferred for purity these can be completely removed if preferred. A titanium tipped Kakimoto Regu 06 & R sports exhaust offers further sports-oriented looks & a better Subaru burble sound, without being obtrusive or loud. This specification from Kakimoto is of the street-legal spec. for Japan and is made from stainless steel, so it’s been designed to last.
Opening the driver’s door you’re greeted with a sports interior, complete with a powered driver’s seat. The driver’s door now shuts with a more solid thud, courtesy of the now conventional window/door frames. The Sports steering wheel is leather-trimmed. It’s equipped with modern keyless ignition and an engine start button. Seats are supportive and well designed, with good driving ergonomics and pedal positioning. The gearshift is familiarly sweet and effortlessly falls to hand.
The revised instruments are clear and unfussy with electroluminescent lighting and climate control air conditioning controls are also easy and intuitive to use. There’s a JDM navigation system fitted.
Of course, there are powered mirrors, windows and remote-controlled central locking too. For Motorway miles, or when you don’t want to have to watch your speeds, there’s cruise control, as an additional useful option. Original option dealer-fitted floor mats are also thoughtfully included. This is a 4-seater as opposed to a 5. Modern child-seat mountings, front, and side-curtain airbags are also featured. For rear occupants, there’s privacy glass too. For the luggage compartment, there’s a parcel shelf to further keep curious eyes from seeing what’s stored there.
All in all, what this car offers is serious performance and excellent quality and reliability with the ability to cover high mileages in all weather conditions whilst offering excellent value for money.
ENGINE & TRANSMISSION
Producing 260bhp @ 6000rpm and 250lb ft @ 2800rpm, the JDM version S-GT 2-litre twin-scroll turbocharged flat-four was more potent than the rebadged UK WRX’s 227bhp 2.5-litre single-scroll turbo engine. The EJ20 is a proven formula and the engine in this guise carries variable valve timing, for better emissions, economy and a slight boost in power. In truth, for those in the know, the 2.0 has always been known for its better strength; indeed – just ask Ollie @Roger Clarke Motorsport why their race cars are always 2.0 instead of 2.2 or 2.5! Naturally, if desired – up to 300 bhp can be coaxed relatively easily from this car’s 2.0 engine through a remap in the U.K., although 250 bhp in a car this size should be ample for most. Don’t think of the 2.0 as inferior to the EU & US 2.5L Engines.
As usual, the Japanese always keep the best for the domestic market and this is no exception. Being shorter stroke the 2.0 revs better whilst making more power by comparison.
The S-GT sticks with a strictly mechanical drivetrain package, namely a centre differential with viscous coupling and a rear limited-slip differential – all the better, because it ensures that no electronics get in the way of the driving experience.
WHEELS, BRAKES & SUSPENSION
The suspension consists of MacPherson struts, with the drive also going to the front wheels and multi-link rear suspension at the rear to best help control & maintain wheel geometry at the end where camber and toe control under cornering is needed the most. Shock absorbers are of standard & original S-GT spec. Wheels are 17” Prodrive forged alloys, in excellent condition, with performance tyres fitted (Yokohama Advan Sport V105’s of size: 225/45R17).
Brakes are of the original spec. with 277mm ventilated discs at the front and 266mm at the rear with ABS and brake assist.
Condition is excellent throughout. Graded a solid 4 at auction, its clear this car wasn’t exposed to strong U.V. during the summers it has spent in Japan – judging by the lack of UV damage to trim, etc. Interior is in excellent condition with no damage to speak of and externally too, there’s very little wear and tear on this example. It’s clear from the lack of damage to the wheel edges and lack of damage to the body also, that this was a car owned by a mature driver and not a younger keeper.
It’s clearly been well cared for by and has never been subjected to a hard life. We can confirm it has been regularly serviced too. The timing belt was changed at 104,000km on schedule, shortly before this car was bought for our stock. In essence, it’s ready and waiting for its new owner.
These are fun, capable and well-engineered cars, in the guise that Impreza Turbos (WRX’s, as they were named outside of Japan) are well known for. Performance is strong and this is a vehicle that you quickly build a rapport with. Grip levels offered by the permanent 4WD system are excellent, with Subaru’s signature safety understeer at first, as (high!) limits of adhesion are reached.
For those who like driving enthusiastically and at speed, get the nose in earlier and hang on to the brakes on the way in, feeling the rear edge out just a few degrees and help prevent any understeer building, then light-up the turbo and charge onto the next straight. If you get a bit braver and fling the Impreza at the apex, after trial braking into the turn, the rear becomes playful and given enough encouragement, slides well wide. Add some corrective lock and pin the throttle. The slide stabilises then reduces until you’re in a nice four-wheel drift, and you hit the straight hooked-up and carrying more speed than you’d ever manage just by driving smoothly up to the limit. This is more like it. However, the Impreza is pretty edgy when driven like this, certainly less progressive than the old WRX (perhaps because it has more grip) and you’d simply never drive with such abandon on the road. Generally speaking, the S-GT is a car offering no-nonsense strong performance and high limits of adhesion for on-road driving, the antics described above are best kept for the track or private roads!