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