This 2002 Subaru Brochure Is a Beautiful Artifact From When Motorsports Actually Sold Cars
World rally heritage, indeed.
During the course of writing the Car Bibles, among my favorite reference resources for info and specs are the in-period brochures for a given car. Some are kind of boring, but others really stand out with their braggadocious statements, exceptional layouts, extra information, and cutaway or motorsporty photos. This brochure for the 2002 Subaru Impreza is one of those.
If you want the whole 24-page brochure as a PDF for your personal collection, you can download it right here:
Alternatively, you can scroll through the whole thing at the bottom of this blog!
This was an era of Subaru where there was still a lot of love for world rally within the brand, and it was still competing in WRC with some of the best drivers in the world. People like Richard Burns and Tommi Mäkinen drove Subaru world rally machines to victories in 2001 and 2002, all with that adorable bugeye face in front of a proper-looking rally car. The “New Age” Impreza WRC cars are some of my favorite of all time, with the bugeye a close second to the blobeye Impreza WRC.
This is the kind of brochure that makes the connection to rally immediate, obvious, and infatuating. I cannot help but stare at these pages and hear words like “rally-bred” whisper through my mind. It comes out swinging with some immediate glamor shots of the WRC cars, and an oh my god I need this on my wall 50/50 shot of the Impreza WRX and the Impreza WRC from the top down. I am losing my mind.
My favorite line in the whole brochure is “what traction control wants to be when it grows up.” Which, of course, is related to Subaru’s famous transaxle-based all-wheel-drive system. Even the line “race proven, not ‘inspired’” makes me feel things — because they kind of weren’t kidding back then. The EJ20 flat-four engine was truly bred from world rally because Subaru really had no other way of stress testing the engine. In the ’90s, it used the Prodrive WRC Imprezas to test the timing belt system and iterate towards a reliable system that could handle quick on-and-off throttle actions with lightweight high-response engines.
Nicky Grist, Colin McRae’s co-driver, regaled me with tales of their ’90s WRC exploits on the Collecting Cars podcast with Chris Harris, where I heard the tidbits about the timing belt. In fact, it sounds like Subaru did a lot of field testing with their Group A and WRC Imprezas for the real road car. In the 2000s, WRC cars got so insane that the connection faded, but the real legwork was done in the 90s for the rally-bred attitude of the then-new Impreza.
Back in their day, Subaru was a fascinating small car company making innovative cars. When the North American Impreza WRX debuted in 2002, it was the only car of its kind; a turbocharged, all-wheel-drive, affordable performance sedan. Those WRC halcyon days have carried the brand to the present, with former rally-loving WRX drivers upgrading to comfier Ascents and Foresters. I’d argue that the Subaru brand has aged with its customers more accurately than any other.
Enjoy the heyday of Subaru nestled within the pages of this funny little brochure. It threw me back when I first read it, and so far has never failed on subsequent re-reads. Look through and enjoy!