Top Gear bids farewell to the Subaru Impreza
The hardcore Impreza brought blistering performance and rally cool to the masses in the 90s. Read TG's tribute...
Posted: 22 Mar 2013
Back in September 2008, more than 1,000 Subaru owners spelt out Colin McRae's name at Prodrive's test track. With their cars. No one else has ever inspired a tribute quite as bonkers.
McRae, the unassuming, frequently uncommunicative Scotsman, and the unpretentious Impreza were made for each other. People would line freezing cold forests for hours for one savagely fast, stupendously sideways glimpse of the man at work. He was flawed and only won the championship once. But he was a proper hero. Raise a Thermos in his memory.
Tommi Mäkinen was arguably Prost to McRae's Senna. Factor in his four consecutive titles in the Mitsubishi Lancer - the Impreza's nemesis on road and rally stage - and you have the narrative that the WRC has so sorely lacked these past few years. Mäkinen was more precise and controlled, where McRae let it all hang out. Indeed, Finland's top driver manager, Timo Jouhki, once told me that McRae was too wild to win. "You can have terrific skills, maybe even superior skills to a rival driver, but it will not count if you cannot handle the pressure. Colin McRae had some major psychological weaknesses. His mental side was not totally suitable to winning championships..." This assessment makes him more human somehow.
So no wonder the cars had the impact they did. Impreza vs Lancer. In Britain especially, there was something almost perverse about the transformation of these boggo saloons to highly bred rally weapons, and it hooked an entire generation. With their active yaw control and adjustable differentials, their simple LED menus that allowed the driver to scroll between gravel, tarmac and snow, there was a fine line between control and chaos. It's a line we may never get the chance to cross again.