Fast Car

Subaru Impreza Tuning Guide

Fast Car’s essential guide to tuning your Classic Impreza

- Words & Photograph­y Dan Sherwood

Not only an icon of the rally stages, the ‘classic’ Subaru Impreza was legendary on the street too as the model that pushed Japanese performanc­e cars to the forefront of the tuning scene. Here’s how to extract the best performanc­e from your Scooby. While the Impreza was a big name in rallying from the very beginning, it took a few years to become a popular road car to tune. But now it is one of the best all-round Japanese cars in the scene. The original shape Impreza, commonly known as the Classic, featured four-wheel-drive and a two-litre turbocharg­ed boxer engine.

WRX versions were more performanc­e orientated, while STi versions were built with one eye on motorsport use. Almost every year the STi models were improved upon, with stiffer suspension, stronger engine internals and uprated turbocharg­ers. Beyond convention­al STi models are the RA versions, which were specifical­ly built with rallying in mind, adding upgrades such as close ratio gearboxes, minimal weight, driver controlled centre differenti­als, and roof vents. The most sought after models are the two-door coupes, namely the STi Type-R, P1, and the uber rare and expensive 2.2-litre, wide-arched WRC-aping 22B. But whichever variant you choose, or how deep your pockets are, all Impreza models have bags of tuning potential to be unleashed.

The Impreza’s suspension was built for the heat of battle on the stages of the World Rally Championsh­ip, so can handle even the most challengin­g back road blasts with ease, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be improved, especially if you have a non-STi model that doesn’t have the factory upgrades. We wouldn’t bother with lowering springs and would suggest a jump straight to a quality coilover setup from the likes of Ohlins, Bilstein, or BC Racing. These would provide excellent alternativ­es at varying price points and throw in the added bonus of height and damping adjustabil­ity to tailor the setup to you own personal preference. While you are at it, it would be worth replacing the bushes, which, if still original, will likely be seriously perished and well past their best. A full set of SuperPro polyuretha­ne items will be a fit and forget upgrade that will sharpen things up a treat.


Just like the suspension, the brakes are also more than capable at mild levels of tune, but start releasing the engine’s full potential, and the aging setup can soon start to feel underpower­ed. The brakes themselves are much improved on STi models over their lower-spec’d WRX siblings, but uprated pads from the likes of Ferrodo and EBC and a disc upgrade from TarOx, will give improved stopping power on both. For big power builds we’d recommend a multi-piston big brake kit. Options from K-Sport or EBC are good budget buys, or you can splash out on a set from Alcon or AP Racing.


The interior design of the Classic Impreza is over 30-years-old now and looked pretty uninspirin­g even back in its heyday, with lots of scratchy grey plastic and basic controls. Buy they do seem to wear well, with switchgear and controls standing up to years of abuse, so should provide a decent base to make some tweaks. The stock seats aren’t bad – in either looks, comfort or support – but a pair of bucket seats would emphasise the rally heritage, as would a smaller dished steering wheel. There are plenty of rollcage options if you wanted to go the whole hog, or you could simply add some rally-style black flock to reinvigora­te and de-sheen the dash and rest of the interior trim.


There’s not much that hasn’t been done to Classic Imprezas over the years, from wild Fast and the Furious graphics, undercar neons and Lambo-style doors, to wide arch kits and full on rally replicas. If it were our car however, we’d keep things classy with a side of attitude with a either a full WRC-style or 22B-style wide arch kit from ABW Motorsport. They do these cool kits for either three or four door models, and even have one that converts your fourdoor to a three-door, for that accurate 22B-look. Throw on some cool motorsport inspired rims and stick to a simple colour scheme without adding graphics and you’ll have one sick Scoob.


It may be getting on a bit these days, but a well sorted Classic Impreza still draws admiring glances wherever it goes. Add in that unique trademark exhaust burble and the knowledge that there are few other more capable machines across any kind of terrain, and there’s a lot to like about owning a cool tuned Subaru. Like all ‘90s Japanese performanc­e cars, the prices for good examples are rising fast, so if you want to sample the legend that is the original Subaru Impreza, we’d get in there fast, but with the top money going for mint factory standard examples, you may get lucky a bag a pre-modified bargain that’s already rocking the most sought after mods, saving you the money and grazed knuckles of doing it yourself.

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 ??  ?? The Impreza’s stock brakes are more than capable...
The Impreza’s stock brakes are more than capable...
 ??  ?? ...but big brake upgrades are a wise option when power levels increase
...but big brake upgrades are a wise option when power levels increase
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 ??  ?? Impreza’s and wide arches are a match made in heaven
Impreza’s and wide arches are a match made in heaven
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 ??  ?? A racing steering wheel is a must for the interior
A racing steering wheel is a must for the interior
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