The Subaru Impreza 22B STi – A Rally Icon

Like many legendary cars of the late 20th century, Subaru’s iconic Impreza 22B is a homologation special. To this day it is still considered by many to be the ‘ultimate’ Subaru Impreza and with only 425 produced (originally 424, but Subaru America was hiding one), it is one of the rarest. Four hundred of these were sold in Japan, while the rest were destined for export or as cars for people like rally legend Colin McRae.

The 22B wasn’t just any old Impreza. It was developed to commemorate Subaru’s 40th anniversary as a company, as well as their third consecutive manufacturer’s title in the World Rally Championship. Subaru completely rebuilt the Impreza, fitting the car with go-fast parts, increasing the engine displacement to 2.2 litres and making it wider and more aggressive. It was a car that meant business and could go the stink to.

Subaru produced the 22B STi from March 1998 to August of the same year. When the Japanese manufacturer released the 22B, all four hundred Japanese units were sold in a day! The United Kingdom received 16 22B’s, which were then modified by Prodrive, with longer gear ratios and UK specific lights.

Subaru 22B STi Specifications

The 22B was fitted with Subaru’s EJ22 engine, which meant that the displacement was up at 2212cc from 1994cc. Officially, the quoted power figure was still 276hp, despite the larger bore. One difference though was the amount of torque the car produced. The hand-assembled engine generated 360Nm at 3200rpm compared to the Version V’s 353Nm at 4000, giving the 22B significant mid-range power.

A twin-plate ceramic metal clutch was used to strengthen the 22B’s driveline. With all the extra power and changes, the 22B could go from standstill to 100km/h in as little as 4.7 seconds, still fast even today! The car could also reach 160km/h in 13.1 seconds and could do a quarter mile in 13.5 seconds.

On the inside, Subaru fitted an adjustable centre-differential switch. When it was set to open or its lowest setting, the multiplate clutch on the planetary centre differential directs 65 percent of the engine’s torque to the rear wheels. If the rear of the car slips, more torque is sent to the front wheels. Moving the switch to the “locked” position results in 50 percent of the engine’s torque going to each axle.

The 22B is painted in a unique colour of blue and fitted hand-crafted widebody wheel arches that were inspired by Peter Stevens WRC car and made the car 80mm wider than standard. The car also has a unique hood, front and rear fenders, a WRC style front bumper and an adjustable rear wing.

Bilstein supplied the suspension for the 22B, while the brakes were four-pot front/two-pot rear STi calipers, painted in go-faster red. Subaru fitted 17-inch BBS alloys, up from 16-inch wheels on the standard car. If you happen to get inside of one, the 22B lacks some of the creature comforts we’ve become used to, like air conditioning.

Sales of the Subaru 22B have reached some eye watering prices that have reached into six figures. It is a car that showed the best of Subaru and has gone down as one of the most legendary motor cars of all time. We only wish we had bought a Subaru 22B back in 1998.

Now watch Motor Trend’s video on the 22B!



  • Ben

    From his early days playing the original Gran Turismo and with his Hot Wheels car set, Ben has had a long interest in all things automotive. His first foray into the world of automotive journalism was way back in 2009 and since then he has only grown more interested in the industry. Ben also runs and heads up the video production side of Garage Dreams, focusing on small informative documentaries about some of the world's most legendary cars.

2 thoughts on “The Subaru Impreza 22B STi – A Rally Icon”

    • Was it ever that affordable? I agree that some of the other ‘rare’ WRX STI models (e.g. the excellent JDM Type R coupe that was basically a baby 22B) were quite affordable, but the 22B always seemed to be a bit crazy in the pricing department. Then again I drive a Suzuki so what would I know?


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