4 Things That Make the Subaru 2.5RS the Ultimate JDM Machine

The Impreza line is perhaps Subaru’s greatest achievement in their 60-year history. Because the Impreza was an extremely versatile “economy” car, it allowed them to compete with companies like Toyota and Honda.

Just like many other Japanese economy cars, the Impreza was eventually offered in a performance model. In 1998 Subaru created the Impreza 2.5RS, which introduced them to the high-performance car market in America.

Today in 2016 the 2.5RS has this weird cult following and Subaru fans across the globe praise it. Is the 2.5RS as good as Subaru fans claim? Here are four good reasons to get your hands on a Subaru 2.5RS today.

4. They’re Unique

How often to do you see a Subaru 2.5RS rolling around town? Probably not very often unless you live in Colorado or Flagstaff, Arizona. This is because Subaru only produced the 2.5RS from 1998 – 2001, and only produced 14,000+ of them.

This makes them rarer than some Ferrari. Come to think of it, I probably see more supercars than 2.5RSs where I live.


Unlike most “rare” cars, the 2.5RS doesn’t really get treated like one, it’s a cheap daily driver that most owners treat like as such. Failing to keep up on maintenance and in general poor automotive treatment is a common occurrence for most Subaru 2.5RSs, forcing them to become rarer by the day.

On top of them becoming rarer every single day, Subaru hasn’t produced an AWD performance coupe since the 2.5RS. Now Subaru only produces sedans and wagons (excluding the BRZ), for some people a 2-door is the only way a performance car should be.

3. The Rally Heritage

What’s the first image that pops in your head, when you think about rally racing? More than likely an image of a Subaru flying through the air popped into your head.

The GC Impreza is what put Subaru on the radar of professional motorsports, and it helped define, and shape the brand into what it is today.


It’s pretty easy to tell that the Subaru 2.5RS is part of a rally bred family. Huge lights tucked inside the bumper for night driving, a big hood scoop to help keep the engine cool when driving spiritedly, and the massive mouth.

All of these features are inspired by Subaru’s rally racing success. Although the Subaru 2.5RS didn’t get the crazy wide-body that the Impreza 22B got, there are a few after-market companies helping 2.5RS owners to fix that.

In the Rally Cross community, the 2.5RS is one of the best cars you can race with. I’m talking autocross that’s on dirt, not the Red Bull rally cross that has become insanely popular in the past few years.

Most people in Rally Cross drive an Impreza of some kind, but the fastest and best racers often use the 2.5RS platform for their race machine.

2. Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive

Subaru is pretty well-known for their all-wheel-drive, every Subaru on the market today is AWD excluding the BRZ. Subaru developed a system that would help its rally success of the 90’s, they called it “Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive”.

All it really is, is a system that splits the torque nearly perfectly between the front and rear axles, helping it corner and handle like a rear wheel drive car.

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The standard AWD system before it would cause the car to understeer a lot. This caused by to much drive power going to the front wheels. Symmetrical AWD fixed this by being dynamic throughout a turn.

Today in 2016 all AWD systems work this way, but back then it was pretty crazy.


They integrated this system into the Subaru 2.5RS, making it handle like a true sports car, and still be able to get you home through snow, mud, rain, and whatever else the world throws at you.

Regardless of the awesome handling that the symmetrical AWD system gives the 2.5RS, have you seen how crazy AWD launches are? A Subaru can launch as hard as a RWD car on drag slicks.

1. Subarus are like Legos

The 2.5L engine that the 2.5RS are equipped with is by no means a bad engine, but it’s naturally aspirated which limits its power output to 165 hp. But, almost all Subaru drivetrain parts are interchangeable, which means dropping in a motor from a newer WRX/STi is nearly as simple as bolting it in.

Ask any Subaru owner, you can drop a 2016 STi engine in any Impreza with minimal work. I wish I could drop an SRT8 engine in my XJ Cherokee with minimal work.

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This also applies to the transmission, center differential, front differential, and rear differential. Making it a breeze to take your Subaru 2.5RS from 165 hp to 300+ hp, really stepping up the performance of this little rally machine.

This also makes it way easier to upgrade brakes and suspension which can get very costly in the aftermarket. STi brakes/suspension are a direct bolt in for the 2.5RS. You can literally take an STi and put 90% of its parts onto your 2.5RS for less than $5k.

Later 2.5RS Models

The entire article I refer to the 2.5RS in the GC8 chassis. This is because the 2.5RS in the later Impreza chassis isn’t nearly as cool. Why is this? Because when the later Impreza came around, so did the WRX.

Considering used WRXs aren’t much more than the 2.5RS, it really makes more sense to just get a WRX.

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I suppose this whole article is really based more around the GC8 chassis and not the 2.5RS itself. Either way, if you want a newer Impreza just get a WRX. It’s much better equipped from the factory than a comparable 2.5RS.


If you’re looking for an awesome daily driver, weekend toy, track car, or anything in between, the Subaru 2.5RS is happily up for the task. It’s got style, heritage, incredible all-wheel drive, and is easy to make go faster than your dad’s Corvette.

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