Subaru Impreza WRX: The Car Bible (GD,GG; 2002-2007)
One of most-modifiable cars of our time.
Welcome to the Subaru WRX (GD) Car Bible. As you scroll down you’ll learn all about this vehicle’s qualities, features, finer points, and shortcomings. If you’re thinking about buying one of these, want some help maintaining or modifying one, or just want to deepen your knowledge for the next round of car trivia, you’ve compoe to the right place.
This is a living document that’s updated as we learn (and confirm) new valuable info. Got something to add? Drop a comment or send us an email! Don’t be shy; the more dialogue we have the better this Car Bible will get.
–Andrew P. Collins, Car Bibles Editor-In-Chief
(Disclaimers; Disclosures: Some Car Bibles will have links to specific forums, groups, brands, shops, or vendors for parts shopping and such. We have no sponsorship deals or official affiliation with any of them unless explicitly stated. We also have to explicitly state that you should work on your own car and follow our advice at your own risk.)
There’s a lot of info packed into this Bible. If you’re looking for something specific, hit command/control-F, type one of these terms, and your browser should bring you straight in.
- The Short Story
- Fast Facts
- Spotter’s Guide
- Check This Car Out If…
- Important Trim Levels and Options
- Year-To-Year Changes
- Obscure Details
- General Reliability and Ownership Costs
- Red Flags and Known Issues
- Where To Buy Parts
- Aftermarket Support
- Popular Modifications
- Key Technical Details
- Fluids, Filters, and Capacities
- Factory Service Manuals
- Other References and Resources
- Professional Reviews
- Owner Reviews
- What They’re Worth Now
- Where To Find One For Sale
- What To Ask A Seller
- Competitors To Consider
- Photo Galleries
- Pop Culture References
- Enthusiast Inquiries
- Downloadable Paperback Car Bible
- Comments Disclaimer
The Short Story
From Car Bibles EIC Andrew Collins: The 2000s were such a cool and exciting era for the sport compact scene in America, and the WRX was an alpha in the category. A turbo, manual, AWD Japanese car with practical proportions and a cool-looking hood scoop?! Come on it didn’t get much sweeter back then. Whether you were into rally racing, accessible performance cars, or you just wanted a four-wheeled adventure buddy to stick your mountain bike and SoBe stickers on, the WRX had a lot of appeal.
The car’s appeal has endured thanks to a still-flourishing aftermarket – these cars have loads of entertainment potential to this day. Many of them might be getting a little worn around the edges now that the youngest early U.S. WRX is over a decade old, but if you can find a decent one you’re in for a good time.
If you’re looking for more images, scroll on down to the Photo Galleries links toward the end of the Car Bible.
The common nickname for the 2002-2007 WRX is GD, though technically the sedans are GDs, and the wagons are GGs.
The GD Subaru WRX was the first WRX to come to America with the “bugeye” in 2002.
This Impreza is called the “New Age” Impreza by Subaru.
WRX mean World Rally Cross (X)
GD WRXs came in three body styles: the 2002-2003 “bugeye”, the 2004-2005 “blobeye”, and the 2006-2007 “hawkeye”. Each car has slight differences on the interior, and totally different faces for each generation.
This generation of Impreza WRX dropped the coupe body style, but retained a sedan and sport-wagon body style.
The WRX STI was introduced with the all-new six-speed gearbox that addresses the weakness of the split-case five-speed.
2004 WRX STIs were the only year of USDM STI to be 5×100, all post-2005 STIs are 5×114.3.
Like almost (save for some special exemptions like SVX) all non-STI Subarus, the lug pattern is 5×100.
On its own, the Impreza isn’t a remarkable looking car. It’s a pretty generic looking three-box sedan or small wagon. The bugeye is the funkiest looking one, with massive round headlights and fog lights, and the blobeye is similarly weird but less striking, and more handsome. The hawkeye has the sharpest face of the lot, and perhaps the most famous. Post-2003 sedans got boxed front fender flares, which is the easiest way to distinguish bugeyes from the rest of the Imprezas.
The difference between a normal Impreza and an Impreza WRX are extremely easy to distinguish. WRXs get a prominent hood scoop, where Imprezas had a normal flat hood. This applies to all GD Imprezas.
The finer details of telling all three body styles apart aren’t much more complicated.
The 2002-2003 “bugeye” Impreza and Impreza WRX share literally everything visually, besides the hood scoop. Wheels, bumpers, and aero are all shared.
The 2003-2005 “blobeye” received a new front fascia, and updated rear tailights and bumpers. The tailights were modernized, and a circular design detail was added to the lower portion of the tail lights. The interior was updated with worse materials and seats with integrated headrests. Imprezas and WRX shared bumpers, but changed fog light covers.
The 2006-2007 “hawkeye” received the then-corporate fascia for Subaru, and updated the tail lights to have more “altezza” style detailing. The interior received another slight update with the center console.
Not rare at all. You can find a GD Impreza, Impreza WRX, or WRX STI any time you like! There is always one for sale, and there weren’t many colors to chose from.
The rarest ones will be bugeyes in rare colors, like Sonic Yellow or Sedona Red.
The most common colors for Imprezas are Silver and World Rally Blue.
Check This Car Out If…
Interior quality, road noise, and fuel economy don’t bother you, and you’re looking for a mechanical, connected driving experience that oozes with charisma and charm.
Important Trim Levels and Options
Options for the GD Impreza are pretty thin on the ground, with Subaru segmenting the cars primarily with trim levels.
The bugeye Impreza was split two ways: 2.5RS and WRX. Sedans were available as 2.5RS or WRX, while wagons were WRX only. Transmissions included a 5-speed manual gearbox or a 4-speed automatic. The 2.5RS is powered by a naturally aspirated SOHC 2.5-liter EJ253 engine. The WRX is powered by a 2.0-liter turbocharged DOHC EJ205 engine. The WRX is the one you want for sure. Rare options include the up-armored rear diff skidplate, and colors like Sonic Yellow and Sedona Red Pearl. This generation has the best interior of all GDs, with much much nicer materials than the blob and hawkeye. The seats are better, along with the Momo 4-spoke steering wheel.
For 2004, more trim levels were added; the TS wagon (2.5RS equivalent), the Impreza Outback Sport Wagon, and the king of the mountain WRX STI sedan. The WRX retained the turbo 2.0-liter EJ205 engine and 5-speed manual gearbox. The TS, RS, and OSW could be optioned with the same 5-speed manual or a 4-speed auto, all with the N/A 2.5-liter EJ253 engine. The WRX STI had the exclusive TY856 STI 6-speed gearbox, R180 (as opposed to R160) rear differential, and 2.5-liter 286hp turbocharged EJ257 engine, both exclusive to the STI. In 2005, the WRX got a displacement bump from 2.0-liter to the 2.5-liter EJ255. The STI also received DCCD for 2005, which is the active center differential available in modern STIs.
In 2006 the final “hawkeye” facelift retained much of the model hierarchy of the blobeye. The WRX received a specific tuner trim called TR that was the most stripped out WRX possible, TR stands for Tuner Ready. The standard WRX remained, and Subaru added a WRX Limited with heated leather seats, a moonroof, and auto-leveling HID headlights at the top of the WRX range. The 2.5RS became the 2.5i. Aspen White, a pearl white was added for hawkeyes.
These changes reflect the U.S. market.
2002 Model Year:
- Car debuts
- Only year of “bugeye” body style
- Manual climate control the only climate control available
- Only year of dark blue interior, and low H-point sport seats
- Gauge cluster has center speedo, right-hand side tachometer, and no outside temperature reading
- Revised transmission for 2001 overseas model on launch: revised reverse compenentry
- No STI
2003 Model Year:
- Carryover from 2002
- Manual gearbox: first, second, and third gears widened to Type RA gear width (MY03 is 2004 in reality, don’t shoot me Subaru fanboys!)
2004 Model Year:
- Blobeye facelift
- New interior parts: door cards, one-piece integrated headrests on new seats, and gauge cluster, manual climate control and center console retained
- Gauge cluster reconfigured for center tachometer and added outside temperature reading
- Momo four-spoke steering wheel retained, center badge color changed from yellow to red
- Sedan fenders changed to boxed flare style, wagon retains slab sided lookFive-speed manual third gear synchro revised
- WRX STI Introduced
- STI receives DCCD (Driver Controlled Center Differential) active locking center differential
- HID auto-leveling headlights introduced for STI
- STI receives the EJ257 for 2004 with intake AVCS variable valve timing.
2005 Model Year:
- Interior redesign: new center console, climate control, climate vents and stereo
- Manual climate control redesigned, along with new automatic single-zone climate control made standard across mid-tier models and up
- New 3-spoke Momo Subaru badged steering wheel
- ETC (Electronic Throttle Control) introduced, replacing old cable throttle
- New tail lights
- TR trim introduced
- STI front limited-slip differential changed from AP Racing Suretrac style to helical LSD. Front half-shafts revised to accommodate.
2006 Model Year:
- “Hawkeye” facelift
- WRX upgraded to 2.5-liter EJ255 with single-AVCS (variable valve timing) from the 2.0-liter EJ205
- Limited trim introduced with heater leather seats, moonroof, and auto-leveling HID projector headlights
- Aluminum front lower control arms, aluminum forward rear lateral links replace cast steel (one year only)
- Steering rack ratio reduced ratio from previous 16.5:1 ratio. (no definitive answer on ratio, suspected to be STI 13:1 ratio)
- Four-piston fixed front calipers with SUBARU casting replace two-piston sliding front calipers on WRX
- Two-piston fixed rear calipers replace single-piston rear sliding calipers on WRX.
- 17-inch wheels for WRX, up from 16-inch.
- WRX STI transmission changes: 1.1:1 AWD transfer ratio, up from 1:1.
2007 Model Year:
- Aluminum suspension components dropped for cast steel
- End of production
Coming up with an obscure detail for a beloved and studied car like the WRX is tough but here’s my best shot:
Early GD WRXs have fluid filled lower control arm bushings for the rearmost position. Unsure of post-Hawkeye, but Bugeyes and Blobeyes certainly can and will have them. When they go bad they leak like an oil leak but are actually just dripping from the control arm, which appears nonsensical. Beware of those!
General Reliability and Ownership Cost
The GD WRX is divisive in the reliability department. The car is a classic case of a bunch of owners having long, happy ownerships with little to no problems, and some owners with absolute nightmare scenarios with engines blowing consistently and grenading transmissions every year or so.
The truth of the matter is: previous ownership matters. A lot. A properly owned GD Impreza, WRX, or WRX STI will be a faithful companion for many years, with reasonably strict maintenance. Regular and consistent oil changes, transmission and driveline fluid changes, and constant monitoring of the health of the engine and car are the keys to a success with Subarus. Know your baseline of what noises it should and shouldn’t make, don’t beat the shit out of it without certain modifications, and drive it like an older machine.
In my own experience owning and being around 2.5-liter and 2.0-liter turbo EJ engines, the 2.0-liters are the ones to have. The EJ was designed as a 2.0-liter engine, and Subaru decided to punch the bore and stroke out to make the 2.5 a cleaner burning engine without much engineering effort. The result is that the EJ is not designed for the different harmonics of the larger engine, and the 2.5s are by and large more problematic than 2.0s. My recommendation: get a 2005 or older and stick to the venerable, less torquey EJ205.
With STIs you have no choice but to get the 2.5-liter EJ257, which is a fine engine, but not as bombproof. The STI engines are nearly the same thing as later US-model 2.5-liter turbo engines, like the 05-06 Legacy GT or 06-07 Forester XT. Be wary of engine health.
A GD WRX, or a Subaru in general, can be one of the most expensive cars to own, or only just more expensive than a Honda. It truly depends.
Red Flags and Known Issues
The primary thing to look out for on any five-speed manual Impreza or Impreza WRX is a grindy, tough to shift, or noisy transmission. They are all huge red flags. The five-speed is notoriously fragile, and deserves all of its reputation for being terrible. The gearbox accepts nothing less than an incredibly well-done rebuild, and world-class skill with a clutch pedal and gear lever. Even then, they can wear out and break literally everything. Another issue with the gearbox is center differential failure, usually associated with excessive gear whine like a racing gearbox, or a pulsating, whooping sound that gets fast with road speed. If there is no noise, a good way to check on center differential health is to do full lock turns in a parking lot in both directions. If you feel any clunking, drivetrain bucking, or grinding, the center differential is going bad.
The engine itself is simple enough to inspect and sus out any errors in operation. 2.0-liter WRXs are generally bombproof. They’ll lose a decent amount of power over time, but misfires, blown head gaskets, and most of the common Subaru ailments don’t seem to affect 2.0-liters as much. All EJs burn some decent oil, a quart every 1,000 to 3,000 miles, be aware. Seriously though, 2.0s are generally dead reliable.
All EJ engines run a little grumbly, and huffily. They all bounce around and run kinda weird sometimes, but generally figure themselves out. If you dip into boost and the engine is still stumbling and misfiring, then there is a real problem. This will be especially common in post-2006 2.5-liter WRXs, where the grumbly running happens more often. The benefit and curse of the later 2.5 engines is that issues will present themselves readily. Misfires just happen. They do! Sensors go a tiny little bit bad, and the engine doesn’t know left from right. The MAFs like to go bad and cause the engine to run lean. The O2 sensor also does the same thing.
The big thing to beware of with 2.5s is burnt valves, which happens a fair amount. A lot of misfires and low power are big signs of burnt valves.
Also, beware of the dreaded ringland issue. 2.5s in particular suffer from weak ringlands, which is where the piston rings live and a lot of cylinder pressure is being applied. Because of the 2.5s hasty bore and stroke job, they are weak from factory, and brittle cast aluminum pistons do not help the issue, breaking at the mere suggestion of ignition knock. Lots of misfires and smoke from the exhaust usually predicate the issue, along with a bad compression test.
Oh, and 2.0s and 2.5s sometimes spin rod bearings. Mostly 2.5s. In my time at Yimisport, a spun bearing 2.5 was as common as breathing air. If you drive the car like a Honda, then you will blow stuff up is the short story. Take it easy, shift smooth, and know how to drive it hard. Don’t lug the engine, let it get into it’s most efficient boost range, and be nice to the car, please.
The GD Subaru Impreza has about four documented recalls on the NHSTA website.
2002-2004s have a fuel line leak recall, and 2005-2007s have recalls for faulty airbag inflators.
Key Technical Details
2.5RS/2.5i/OSW/TS – EJ253 16-valve, rocker actuated SOHC boxer-four cylinder engine w/ variable valve lift post-2006, longitudinally mounted. 10.0:1 compression ratio. “Low maintenance” distributorless electronic ignition. Aluminum intake manifold without TGV (tumble generator valves). Cast aluminum block with die-cast aluminum cylinder heads. Hitachi engine management. Timing belt driven, interval 105,000 miles.
WRX 2.0 (2002-2005) – EJ205 16-valve, shim-under-bucket flat tappet DOHC boxer-four cylinder, longitudinally mounted. 8.0:1 compression ratio. Turbocharged with Mitsubishi TD04. Coil-on-plug direct ignition. Aluminum intake manifold with TGV (tumble generator valves). Cast aluminum engine block with die-cast aluminum heads. Denso engine management. Timing belt driven, interval 105,000 miles.
WRX 2.5 (2006-2007) – EJ255 ver. 1 16-valve, shim-under-bucket flat tappet DOHC boxer-four cylinder with intake AVCS variable valve timing, longitudinally mounted. 8.4:1 compression ratio. Turbocharged with Mitsubishi TD04L. Coil-on-plug direct ignition. Aluminum intake manifold with TGV (tumble generator valves). Cast aluminum engine block with die-cast aluminum heads. Denso engine management. Timing belt driven, interval 105,000 miles.
WRX STI – EJ257 ver. 1 16-valve w/ sodium filled exhaust valves, shim-under-bucket flat tappet DOHC boxer-four cylinder with B25 cylinder heads, intake AVCS variable valve timing, longitudinally mounted. 8.2:1 compression ratio. Turbocharged with IHI VF39. Coil-on-plug direct ignition. Red painted aluminum intake manifold with TGV (tumble generator valves). Cast aluminum engine block with die-cast aluminum heads, shared shortblock with MY05-06 Legacy GT. Driver controlled intercooler water spray. Denso engine management. Timing belt driven, interval 105,000 miles.
Four-speed automatic transaxle with VTD (variable torque distribution) All Wheel Drive.
Five-speed split-case constant-mesh transaxle gearbox with viscous center coupling locked in a 50/50 torque split. 4.11 final drive ratio for 2.5RS. 3.90 final drive ratio for OSW and TS. post-2005 all Imprezas had a 3.90 final drive.
WRX (all) –
Four-speed automatic transaxle with VTD (variable torque distribution) All Wheel Drive.
Five-speed split-case constant-mesh transaxle gearbox with viscous center coupling locked in a 50/50 torque split. Post MY2004 includes Type RA gear width. 3.90 final drive ratio.
WRX STI –
Six-speed manual TY856 STI-designed transaxle gearbox. 2004-2005 had 1:1 AWD transfer ratio. 2006-2007 changed to 1.1:1 transfer ratio. All had a 3.90 final drive ratio. Internal oil pump pressurized oiling system. 35/65 torque split.
Drivetrain: Front engine, full-time all-wheel-drive, with viscous limited slip rear differential. Viscous center differential in 2.5/WRX models and DCCD locking differential in WRX STI. R160 viscous limited-slip differential for 2.5i/2.5RS/WRX. R180 clutch-type limited-slip differential for STI. Open front differential for all non-STI. Limited-slip front differential for WRX STI.
Suspension: Front MacPherson strut suspension with stamped steel control arms except for aluminum in 2006, and aluminum extended in WRX STI. All have cast steel uprights.
Rear semi-trailing arm strut-based suspension with cast steel and stamped steel controls arms except for aluminum in 2006, and aluminum in WRX STI. Cast steel hubs.
Wheelbase: 99.4 in; 2525 mm (all non-STI), 100in; 2540mm (WRX STI)
Overall length: 175.8 in; 4465 mm (all body styles)
2.5i 3,016 lbs / 3,067 lbs
WRX TR 3,192 lbs / N/A
WRX 3,192 lbs / N/A
WRX Limited 3,239 lbs / 3,296 lbs
WRX STI 3,351 lbs / N/A
2.5i 3,071 lbs / 3,120 lbs
WRX 3,252 lbs / N/A
WRX Limited 3,294 lbs / 3,347 lbs
Outback Sport 3,067 lbs / 3,120 lbs
Outback Sport Special Edition 3,067 lbs / 3,120 lbs
OEM tire sizes:
2.5i/2.5RS/OSW: 205/55 R16
WRX: 215/45 R17
WRX STI: 225/45 R17
Fluids, Filters, And Capacities
2.5RS/2.5i/OSW: 87 AKI (regular)
WRX/WRX STI: 91 AKI (premium) minimum octane
2.5RS/2.5i/OSW: 5W-30 oil.
WRX/WRX STI: Factory uses 5W-30 oil, but 5W-40 is highly recommended. At Yimisport (which are the masters are fast Subarus in SoCal), we only used Motul 5W-40 for the good of the EJ engine.
Battery Size: Group 35
Oil Filter: OEM part number 15208AA12A, change every 5,000 miles with crush washer
Air Filter: OEM part number 16546AA020, change every 30,000 miles
Cabin Air Filter: OEM part number: G3010FE200, change every 30,000 miles or shorter with extreme air quality events like wildfires
Manual five-speed or six-speed – 75W-90 GL-4 or GL-5, Motul Gear 300 recommended, interval every 60,000 miles
Automatic – Genuine Subaru ATF-HP, interval every 50,000 miles.
Manual 5-speed or 6-speed – Not applicable
Automatic – OEM part number 38325AA032, change every 50,000 miles
Rear Differential Oil: 75W-90 GL-4 or GL-5, Motul Gear 300 recommended, interval 60,000 miles
Coolant: Green coolant, 50/50 mix
Power Steering Fluid: Subaru Genuine ATF-HP, or any Dexron ATF
Brake Fluid: DOT4 brake fluid, Motul RBF600/RBF660 is a great fluid for a sturdy pedal. Change as needed.
Clutch Fluid: DOT4 brake fluid, Motul RBF600/RBF660 can be used. Usually not serviced. Change as needed.
2.5RS/2.5i/OSW: BKR5EIX-11, pre-gapped
WRX – BKR6EIX, gap .028-.031mm
WRX STI – LFR6AIX, gap .028-.031mm
Where to Buy Parts
For emergency OEM parts and replacement stock parts, your best bet would be to find the best Subaru dealership parts counter closest to you. Genuine Subaru parts are a decent bit better than a lot of equivalent replacement parts.
If you’re willing to wait, the best part about Subaru parts is that the Tier 1 OEMs that make the parts for Subaru readily sell their parts online or to higher-quality parts stores like Napa. Stuff like Denso or TKT bearings are OEM Subaru without having the Subaru badge, and you can find things easily online with any choice of parts catalog search.
The GD Subaru WRX and WRX STI have one of the biggest, craziest, most varied aftermarkets of any car ever made. Tuners caught on to this platform since its overseas debut in 2000, and have spent the last 21 years developing and updated aftermarket upgrades for the genuinely beloved car.
Anything you want, you can have it. There are ready-to-ship upgraded engines from IAG that will help you make power, strength upgrades for the weak 5-speed, full suspension arrangements from several companies with full control arm suites, and even off-the-shelf tubular subframes with race-car adjustability.
Not to mention the multitude of cosmetics available for the car, with incredibly rare JDM parts available for the interior and exterior, and storied JDM tuning houses making granular stuff like custom gauge clusters, seats, and door cards.
The best parts of all of that is that there are a ton of used parts laying around on Craigslist and FB marketplace so you can find an exhaust to Release The Rumble the same night you get your WRX for very cheap! Anything you desire, you can have in the world of Subaru modification.
An exhaust is basically a right of passage for any turbo Subaru, Releasing The Rumble, as it were. Axle-back exhausts, cat-back exhausts, and turbo-back exhaust are very popular and literally everywhere.
Putting an STI VF39 turbo on a WRX is also extremely popular and a bolt-on modification. The stock WRX turbo is a puny TD04 turbo, and works very well for the 2.0-liter but ultimately holds the engine back. This required a tune.
Speaking of tunes, the #1 mod every single turbo Subaru should get is a very good tune. Avoid Off-The-Shelf (OTS) tunes from Cobb and similar companies, and drop the coin for a good pro-tune from a reputable shop like Yimisport or similar. A good pro-tune will smooth the engine out, kill any dumb engine running weirdness, and add a ton of reliable power with much more safety margin. Short story: stock Subaru tunes suck! Beware 2.0-liter ECUs being 16-bit and harder to tune and harder to install a Cobb Accessport to.
Another good mod is the cylinder #4 cooling mod. This helps the farthest back cylinder get adequate coolant flow and avoid spot overheating in the back of the engine, extending the life of the head gaskets and preventing ignition knock and inevitable 2.5-liter ringland failure.
The aforementioned Cobb Accessport is the single most valuable modification you can make to your GD Subaru. You don’t have to install a tune to run the Accessport, you can run the stock tune and monitor engine health in real time. Keeping an eye on your knock correction, DAM (Dynamic Advance Multiplier, Subaru term for global ignition advance), misfire counts, and fuel trims will help you get an idea of what’s wrong or what’s right with your car. Seriously, invest in one and use it for diag. The bonus is that most tuners can use the AP as a proxy for tuning and allow you to load multiple maps. For example, keeping the stock tune for emissions in your state, not that we at Car Bibles recommends that you skirt the law.
Factory Service Manuals
Wrxinfo.com has every Subaru service manual for every year of car here! Everything you need is in there.
Other References and Resources
The GD WRX is a car I would generally avoid the forums on. Lots of people say many things and have no clue what’s really going on. These little flat-four powered weirdo blobs need special love and your best resources are gonna be your local Subaru tuner shop.
If you can research effectively, you can find some great info on ClubWRX.net.
NASIOC can be hit or miss, mostly miss. But it can help!
“2002 Subaru Impreza WRX Brings the Rally Home.” (Car & Driver – February 2001 Issue)
Larry Webster at C&D enjoyed the WRXs balance, and came away impressed with the plucky turbocharged bugeye Impreza.
“…our initial impression was one of surprising balance. On a dust-covered asphalt autocross course, we felt little of the traditional understeering plow. Rather, we could easily dial in a bit of oversteer to get the car to rotate. If, in fact, our early impressions hold, the WRX’s willingness to rotate would put it among a cherished few road cars with active rear ends.”
“2004 Subaru Impreza WRX STi Long-Term Verdict” (MotorTrend – October 1, 2005)
The Motor Trend crew were in love with the 2004 WRX STI, new for the USA in their long-term verdict.
“The suspension, though taut and nimble, offered an almost posh ride. One-handed driving wasn’t a problem, with little fear of the bump-steer demon that lives in the Mitsu Evo. In fact, the STi featured some of the best steering, with one curiosity: When pointing the car through a bend with constant steering input, planting the throttle inclined the car to go wide of the corner, and lifting would dive it into the arc. It didn’t matter if it was a left or right corner, it’d do this in either direction. Unlike a front-drive car, this wasn’t torque steer, as that tendency goes only one way. We’re confident this throttle-induced attitude adjustment was built into the race-bred chassis–we found it particularly useful on one of the several visits the STi made to a racetrack.”
“First Drive: 2006 Subaru WRX” (Automobile – September 15, 2005)
Erik Johnson of Automobile enjoyed the facelifted Hawkeye WRX, especially the increased drivability from the new EJ255 engine.
“…while the lighter, aluminum front lower control arms are notable, the 2.5-liter turbo four is what really gets our blood pumping. The previous 2.0-liter unit had absolutely no go until the turbo kicked in, but the bigger engine, with increases of only 3 hp and 18 lb-ft of torque, improves immensely in that area…”
Here we’ll share observations and opinions from people who have actually owned these cars.
Demitri H.(Apr 7, 2021)
2002 Subaru Impreza WRX Sport Wagon manual; modified; owned four years plus (240,000 miles):
Owning a GD Subaru WRX is a love hate experience for most people including myself. It takes a real enthusiast with deep pockets, or the mechanical know how to keep them running.
When they do run properly though, the reward of the flat-four rumbling off the hills is extremely worth it. Subaru’s AWD system matched with the crisp, direct shifts of an STI six-speed will have you giggling for the entire drive.
I have owned a GD wagon for 4 years now and can tell you that i will own it for the rest of its (or my) life. It doesn’t matter how much money it will take, or how many hours of work I put in. At the end of the day, the sum of these parts working in symphony makes the whole process worth it.
Authors note: Demitri is one of my best friends, and his wagon is STI six-speed swapped, and has a full suite of suspension upgrades including control arms and HKS coilovers. His old 5-speed exploded three times so he finally took the plunge into the STI swap. His 2.0-liter engine has over 240,000 miles and runs like a top. His car is an example of a miracle Subaru, but it has served him well since we cannonballed it back home from San Francisco in 2017.
Also, he didn’t write enough so I added this note. Sorry Demitri!
Own or owned one of these and want to share your thoughts? Hit up in the comments or email firstname.lastname@example.org!
What They’re Worth Now
The prime example: For a WRX, you’re looking at about $12,000-$15,000. This is for a primo color, low miles, one-owner, full service history, and no issues whatsoever. At this price, you’ll be looking at Hawkeye WRXs. For how common World Rally Blue is, it fetches a decent premium. For an STI, budget $22,000-$26,000 for a prime example of a Hawkeye STI, or even the high end of a Blobeye STI. A 5×100 Blobeye may even exist in this range for sheer rarity.
A very clean driver: For a WRX, budget about $9,000-$10,000. These cars have decent miles, but are serviced well, cosmetically 9/10, and well cared for with some road grime. This is what I call the “goldilocks zone” where the car has been driven and sorted, but well loved. For an STI, budget $18,000-$20,000. A nice Hawkeye or a really nice Blobeye will find its way to you, possibly without mods but small mods are likely.
An honest car: For a WRX, budget $7,000-$8,500. These cars will have driver miles, 100,000ish. Service history will be mostly there, and ideally it’ll be a two-owner car. It will still be well loved and driven. For a similar STI, budget $15,000-$17,000.
The budget option: At $5,000-$6,500, a WRX with over 150,000 miles will be an option, while still being clean and well maintained. Mods are likely, and beware of any tuning or bad mods. A budget drivable STI will run you $12,000-$14,000. Mods highly likely, and it will need some love.
A roach: $3,000-$4,000 will get you a beat-to-shit project WRX. Mods everywhere, stuff blown up, all that sort of fun. $7,000-$9,000 will get you a similar STI in distress. No Hawkeyes in this price range, just downtrodden Blobeyes.
Where to Find One for Sale
You’re going to find most WRXs for sale on Craigslist and FB marketplace. The vast majority will be privately-owned. Avoid these cars on buy-here pay-here lots because they do manage to find their way onto them, it suggests a unloving ownership history.
WRX STIs are a similar story, though they are more valuable and do end up on auction sites like Bring a Trailer, and Cars & Bids. The best examples will go to auction, and the rest are easily found on Craigslist and FB marketplace.
What to Ask a Seller
Be especially wary of owners of used Subarus, they’re either used to the weirdness and love it, or want to get rid of it and lie. Seriously, it’s happened to me a lot. Go-to questions should include:
“Any engine misfires, stumbling, or hesitation?”
“When was the timing belt last done?”
“When were the spark plugs last done?”
“How much oil does it burn?” (because it WILL burn oil!)
“Has it been modified? tuned?”
Competitors to Consider
As far as the WRX, used competitors include the 2006-2011 Honda Civic Si, the 2005-2006 Acura RSX Type-S, E46 BMW 330i ZHP, and the Mk5/Mk6 Volkswagen Golf GTI.
For the STI, competitors are the E46 BMW M3, B5/B6/B7 Audi S4, Mk6 VW Golf R, and of course, the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution 8 or 9.
Check out the incredible brochure photography in the 2002, 2004, 2005, 2006, and 2007 Subaru Impreza brochures. Seriously, these photos make me want to dive out of my 2nd story window and throw my money at the nearest GD WRX owner to buy their car. World rally heritage, and all that.
Netcarshow also has a bunch of WRX pics on its Subaru page here.
Pop Culture References
The Bugeye WRXs don’t exist in many games, the most notable of which is Gran Turismo, up until GT6. The Bugeye is notably omitted from Forza Motorsport.
The Blobeye and Hawkeyes get a lot more love, and exist in most popular game titles including Forza Motorsport and basically every Gran Turismo.
The Hawkeye had its biggest 15 minutes of fame in the 2017 movie Baby Driver, where a specially modified red WRX did some incredible practical stunt driving with Ansel Elgort behind the wheel. Values literally shot up after that movie came out, but have long since settled.
Also: There’s a line in the Rick Ross featuring Styles P. song “B.M.F.” (“blowin’ money fast”) that goes: “Blunt tip orange like caviar / Wild n’ out, fishtailin’, Subaru rally car.” That’s not a WRX mention per se, but it might be the only Subaru shoutout in rap music, so that’s neat. Alas, there’s no Subaru in the music video.
We learned from the aptly named Twitter account “enthusiast cars in anime backgrounds” (@anime_no_kuruma) that there’s a blobeye doing duty as a Japanese police car in the anime Happy Sugar Life S1E12. Here’s a screenshot:
Every car has a collection of common questions that pop up in forums and Facebook groups whenever new blood joins in. We hope a lot of those have been answered above, but if we start to see specific questions pop up regularly we’ll revisit them here.
Downloadable Paperback Car Bible (Coming Soon)
If you’re old school and like to keep reference notes on paper, or you’re just a completionist and want a free accessory for your Subie, download and a paperback Car Bible! Well, you have to also print it to put it on paper. But you knew what we meant. (Note: You’ll be able to download it once our editor gets his act together and finishes formatting it.)
Think of it like an owner’s manual supplement. Keep it in your car and your days of waiting for slow internet on your phone at the auto parts store are over!
You’ve reached the end of the WRX Car Bible and are about to scroll into the comment section. If any questions were left unanswered in the text above, try posing it in the space below! Unsolicited rally car tips are also welcome.