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Subaru Impreza 2.5 RS Sedan (2000)

SEE ALSO: Subaru Buyer's Guide

By Matt/Bob Hagin


     Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price              $ 19,295
     Price As Tested                                    $ 20,214
     Engine Type              SOHC 16-valve 2.5 Liter H4 w/SMFI*
     Engine Size                                 150 cid/2457 cc
     Horsepower                                   165 @ 5600 RPM
     Torque (lb-ft)                               166 @ 4000 RPM
     Wheelbase/Width/Length                   99.2"/67.1"/172.2"
     Transmission                              Five-speed manual
     Curb Weight                                     2857 pounds
     Fuel Capacity                                  15.9 gallons
     Tires  (F/R)                           205/55R16 all season
     Brakes (F/R)                          Disc (ABS)/disc (ABS)
     Drive Train                    Front-engine/all-wheel-drive
     Vehicle Type                       Five-passenger/four-door
     Domestic Content                                        N/A
     Coefficient of Drag (Cd.)                              0.35


     EPA Economy, miles per gallon
        city/highway/average                            21/28/25          

     0-60 MPH                                        9.0 seconds
     1/4 (E.T.)                          17.0 seconds @ 83.5 mph
     Top speed                                           125 mph
                 * Sequential multi-port fuel injection

(Subaru has developed a "niche" market for itself in that all its vehicles use full-time four-wheel-drive, says Bob Hagin. Matt Hagin says Subaru's new Impreza 2.5 RS sedan is in a hot-rod niche of its own.)

MATT - Subaru's Impreza 2.5 RS four-door sedan is a new model for '00 and for "sporting" drivers who have a kid or two and want to be able to easily strap in a couple of tots, it's the perfect compromise. Last year, the Impreza 2.5 RS could only be had as a two-door coupe, so wrestling a couple of child's seats into the back took a lot of the fun out of driving it. Sliding my kids in through the two back doors of this new model made the week-long test lots easier for me.

BOB - While most compact sedans have cookie-cutter profiles, the Subaru Isuzu 2.5 RS won't be mistaken for others of the genre - especially from the front. It has an air intake up there that would do justice to one of the jet engines on a Boeing 747 and it also sports a couple of huge round fog lights that could double as landing lamps on the same airplane. It's got a wing on the trunk lid and while it isn't jet-sized, it no doubt adds to the stability of the 2.5 RS when it's pushed to its top speed of 125 mph. It rolls on low-profile, 16-inch high performance tires, which is one of the reasons it handles so well.

MATT - Another factor that adds to the handling abilities of the 2.5 RS is its driveline design. Like all Subarus currently sold here, it utilizes full-time all-wheel drive. The power initially goes to the front wheels on a 90/10 split, but as the car accelerates hard, more power is shifted to the rear drive system to give it extra "bite." Then when the car decelerates, power is shifted to the front wheels so the car can use engine compression to slow down. In a turn, the power is also shifted away from the wheels that are beginning to lose traction and shifted to the tires that provide the most grip. It's all unnoticeable by those inside, and technologically very advanced. And as an added benefit, there's a viscous-operated limited slip differential in back so traction is never a problem.

BOB - The engine layout on a Subaru is unique in that it's a flat-opposed four-banger with two cylinders on each side. The only other contemporary engine that uses this design is Porsche, and they're all six cylinders now. Subaru engineers claim that this design lowers the center of gravity and smooths out the natural imbalance that's found in conventional in-line four-cylinder engines. In any event, it produces a very distinctive and throaty exhaust note that doesn't sound like anything else. It's fairly large at 2.5 liters, and it puts out 165 horses with 166 pound/feet of torque at 4000 rpm. This indicates that the engine was designed to provide lots of pulling power. It's all-aluminum and has a single camshaft on top of each head. Our car had a five-speed transmission, but the car can also be had with a four-speed automatic. It's interesting that the fuel mileage for the automatic is actually slightly better around town than our five-speed.

MATT - Having full-time all-wheel drive makes it a great family car for areas of the country that are subjected to lots of snow and ice during the winter. Unfortunately, it doesn't have a back seat pass-through, so skis for a weekend winter sports trip would have to be lashed on top. For dyed-in-the-wool ski enthusiasts, any of the Subaru station wagons or the Forester SUV would be a better choice.

BOB - There's also a line of Subaru Impreza sedans and station wagons that aren't as performance-oriented as the 2.5 RS coupe and sedan. The less-potent versions use a 2.2 liter engine that's down about 22 horsepower from the more muscular 2.5 liter unit. The 2.5 RS version of the Impreza is built using the classic American muscle car formula of putting the biggest, most powerful engine into the smallest car in the lineup and then adding assertive visuals to make it look fast to boot.

MATT - Subaru has made a name for itself in world rallying and won the title three years in a row. It would be fun to be in on that.

BOB - Having done some rough-country racing like that, I'd prefer something more sedentary, like maybe a destruction derby.