Subaru For 1998
By Carey Russ
If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, Subaru has been sincerely flattered. Its Outback and Outback Sport have been very successful, and other auto makers are taking note. All-wheel drive wagons with extra ground clearance and sport-utility styling cues are appearing in lineups from manufacturers around the world. But Subaru is keeping ahead of its competition with its first mini-sport-utility, the Forester. Also new for 1998 is the Impreza 2.5 GT, a near-replica of Subaru's championship rally cars.
All Subarus feature the Subaru All-Wheel Driving System as standard equipment. This is a combination of the Subaru horizontally- opposed engine, sophisticated all-wheel drive hardware, and long- travel suspension. It has handling benefits on or off pavement, and has helped Subaru win the World Rally Championship.
The newest Subaru combines the styling and advantages of a sport-utility with the comfort and safety of a car. The Forester has been classified with the government as a small station wagon and meets all passenger car standards. Yet, it has the look, interior space, and ground clearance of a small sport-utility. Like the Outback before it, the Forester is a new step in the evolution of the automobile.
The Forester is built on a modified Impreza chassis. It fits in the Subaru lineup between the Impreza-based Outback Sport and the Legacy-based Outback, and uses the same 2.5-liter boxer 4 as the Outback. Three trim levels are offered, with 5-speed manual or 4- speed electronically-controlled automatic transmissions.
There is a new model in the Impreza line for 1998. With the demise of the SVX, the 2.5 RS is the sports coupe of the Subaru line. It looks like an Impreza coupe with a more aggressive front end and a large wing on the decklid. Under the bescooped hood, the 2.5 liter, 165-horsepower boxer 4 of the Legacy and Forester replaces the normal 2.2-liter, 137-horsepower engine used in other Impreza models. It's a rally car lookalike with gold-finished alloy wheels and low- profile performance-rated tires. While not quite up to 300-horsepower real rally car trim, it's quicker than other Imprezas and has rally car all- wheel drive handling. Befitting its nature, the 2.5 RS is offered only with a 5-speed manual gearbox with short-throw linkage.
Other Impreza models include a coupe, sedan, and wagon, and the Outback Sport. They are powered by the 2.2-liter boxer motor. For 1998, they have minor external and internal trim changes and a new instrument panel.
The Legacy is the largest Subaru. It is available in Outback, wagon, and sedan body styles in several trim levels. Most have minor interior and exterior changes this year.