With an incredible amount of success in the World Rally Championship over the years, the Subaru Impreza has always captivated the minds of enthusiasts. Subaru is well aware of this, which is why it didn't hesitate taking a gamble when designing the all-new Impreza WRX. From an aesthetic point of view, it's an extremely daring proposition in that it has nothing at all to do with the previous generation models. The beefed-up four-door sedans with massive trunk spoilers were replaced with a rather anonymously styled five-door hatchback. Subaru is trying very hard to get a bigger slice of the Mazda3 market in both Japan and Europe. But this is mainly something they're attempting with the more sedate WRX models (ST in Japan).
The Subaru Tecnica International version of the car you see here is without a doubt in another league, its massively blistered fenders and overall aggressive stance hint at its crushing performance. Unlike Mitsubishi with the Evolution X, however, Subaru has preferred to stick with the notion that "if it ain't broke don't fix it." So no new all-aluminum engine and double-clutch gearbox here; the new Impreza sticks with the trusted 2L flat-four (for JDM models, U.S. and Europe get the 2.5 liter), asymmetrical all-wheel drive and a good old manual six-speed gearbox. With the performance side of things already acceptable out of the box, it's the body that has received most of the attention from tuners in Japan. First off the block was the team at Charge Speed, who showed off their new lineup of tuning parts at this year's Tokyo Auto Salon. We met up with them shortly after the show to take a closer look at their STI-based demo car.
Kay Kimoto of Charge Speed says the design of the new Impreza is a hate it or love it affair. Most people initially dislike its awkwardness but with time they begin to appreciate the lines more. So for this first lineup of parts, called Bottom Line, they concentrated on working with what Subaru has created and enhancing various details to create a more appealing and aggressively styled car.
To start things off, a deep glossy carbon-fiber lip spoiler was added to the front bumper. This acts as a sort of front diffuser covering much of the space under the engine, effectively smoothing out under-car airflow. The carbon-fiber treatment is carried on to the bumper's lower grille, which has been fitted with a central air intake and a series of sidescoops. This replaces the factory grille and driving lights. As Kay explains, the idea is to not only improve on the looks but also open up possibilities if owners want to run a front-mount intercooler. The sidescoops can either be used to provide a steady flow of air to the brakes or be fitted with foglights in true rally style. The factory air outlets on the corners of the bumper have been replaced with Charge Speed items, constructed in carbon fiber. To help engine cooling, the main front grille, again made from carbon, has been smoothed out and shaved for a cleaner look. Joining it are the carbon-fiber eyebrows for the front headlights. Adding a final touch of the precious fiber to the front end is the Charge Speed hoodscoop.
The carbon-fiber side skirts, applied under the factory items, help bring the car closer to the ground. The Charge Speed Bottom Line kit continues around the back with the rear bumper side spoilers and then on to the rear diffuser, all of which, like the rest of the parts, are made from carbon fiber. To help separate the clear rear light clusters a carbon-fiber number plate mount has been devised, which at the same time eliminates the Subaru badge. Finishing off the Charge Speed conversion is the vortex generator on the roof, which is fitted just in front of the factory spoiler
From the factory, the Impreza WRX STI rides on the high side so helping create that low down to the ground show car look is a set of fully adjustable Advance dampers. These help the massive 19-inch Racing Hart RS451 sit perfectly inside the fenders. The wheels are finished off with a two-tone black/brushed-aluminum look to enhance their split six-spoke design. Rubber is courtesy of Dunlop with a set of 235/35/19 Direzza DZ101s.
The factory interior remains untouched aside from the thinly bolstered red Charge Speed driver and passenger bucket seats. While these can be a tight squeeze, the seats do a great job of adding a hint of color to what is a very dark and simply styled cabin. Aside from Charge Speed silicone radiator hoses, the engine is stock but will end up getting some much-needed tuning parts in the future. In fact, the car was only showing 100km on the odometer, as it hadn't turned a wheel since it was delivered. It served solely as a development tool for the new body kit. Charge Speed will soon release its Type-1 kit, which will include a completely redesigned front bumper, lightweight carbon hood, and chunky vented side skirts. For more information, log on to www.chargespeed.com.
*Charge Speed radiator silicone hoses
*Fully adjustable advanced suspension system
*Takechi Project Racing Hart RS451 (machined black) 8.5Jx19 +45
*235/35/19 Dunlop Direzza DZ101
*Charge Speed front bumper carbon lip spoiler
*Charge Speed front bumper lower carbon grille
*Charge Speed bumper carbon side air outlets
*Charge Speed carbon/mesh de-badged front grille
*Charge Speed carbon headlight eyebrows
*Charge Speed carbon hood vent
*Charge Speed carbon side skirts
*Charge Speed carbon roof vortex generator
*Charge Speed carbon rear bumper under spoilers
*Charge Speed carbon rear diffuser
*Charge Speed carbon rear hatch de-badge plate mount
*Charge Speed driver and passenger bucket seats
*STI rally car mats