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  Subaru Impreza Group A      

  Article Image gallery (28) 93-004 Specifications  
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Country of origin:Japan
Produced from:1993 - 1996
Internal name:GC
Author:Wouter Melissen
Last updated:October 18, 2021
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Click here to download printer friendly versionSubaru and Prodrive first teamed up in 1990 to create the Subaru World Rally Team. The British specialist had developed a Group A rally version of the Japanese manufacturer's Legacy model. It was initially raced in the British Rally Championship and then moved up to the World Rally Championship. While a victory on the global stage was not scored until 1993, Colin McRae did use the Legacy RS to win the British title in 1991 and 1992. Immediately after McRae scored the model's maiden WRC win, in New Zeeland, the Legacy was replaced by a Group A version of the Impreza.

Built on a shortened Legacy platform, the Impreza was more suitable to be used for rallying due to its dimensions alone. To provide Prodrive with the best possible starting point, Subaru had also introduced the Impreza WRX or Impreza GT as it was known in Europe. A homologation special avant la lettre, the World Rally eXperimental Impreza was powered by a turbocharged flat-four engine, boasted reinforced suspension and featured a sophisticated all-wheel drive system that included a viscous centre differential and limited slip differential at the rear. With an engine good for 240 hp, the Impreza WRX would grow out to be an iconic machine in its own right.

Starting with the right canvas, Prodrive set about creating a Group A version of the Impreza WRX. It was also known as the '555' in reference to tobacco sponsor that had joined the Subaru World Rally Team at the start of 1993. The new machine was 160 mm shorter than the Legacy it replaced and was equipped with a further developed version of the Subaru's legendary flat-four engine. With the mandatory intake restrictor fitted, it was good for around 300 hp. The shell was completely stripped and fitted with a complete roll-cage. The Group A Impreza was also fitted with active differentials, which was a first for the World Rally Championship.

The new Impreza debuted during the 1000 Lakes Rally in Finland. Ari Vatanen immediately impressed by leading the rally at one point and ultimately finishing second behind winner Juha Kankkunen. Vatanen's experienced Finish team-mate Marku Alén was not so fortunate as he crashed out on the opening stage. It would be his final appearance for Subaru. His place was taken by Colin McRae. While Vatanen and McRae continued to impress during the 1993 season, victories eluded the pairing. The Impreza Group A was also raced by a variety of other drivers that year. Among them was a young Richard Burns, who won the British Rally Championship driving for Prodrive and Subaru.

Ahead of the 1994 season, the Subaru World Rally Team switched to Pirelli rubber and also signed Carlos Sainz as the lead driver. These changes paid off as Sainz scored the Impreza's maiden WRC win in Greece. McRae then won three of the next rounds, including Prodrive's home event, the RAC Rally. Subaru ended the year second in the standings. Sainz and McRae continued their form in 1995, winning five of the eight events the team competed in. Subaru and McRae were World Rally Champions. With three wins in ten events, Subaru managed to defend their title in 1996 but McRae ended the year second behind Mitsubishi's Tommi Mäkinen.

For the 1997 season, a comprehensively revised 'WRC' class was introduced, which provided manufacturers more development freedom. This prompted Prodrive and Subaru to replace the Group A car with a new version of the Impreza. It won the constructors trophy in its first attempt but it would take until 2001 before a Impreza WRC driver would win the drivers title.

With twelve wins in less than four seasons, the Group A Impreza is one of the most successful rally cars of all time. It also started a dynasty that would remain in force in the World Rally Championship for nearly two decades.

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  Article Image gallery (28) 93-004 Specifications