Skip to main content

1998 Subaru Impreza Review

More about the 1998 Subaru Impreza
More About This Model

Subaru is ready to release a new Impreza for 1998, and for its debut, they invited journalists to the state of Washington for a ride and drive. Washington, by virtue of its variable climate and the population’s zest for the outdoors, is a good market for Subaru’s all-wheel drive cars, and a natural locale to release a new model that’s built for fun. And Subaru made sure that fun was included in the program, with a day at the Seattle International Raceway that proved the Impreza 2.5 RS is more than enough car for the daily driver.

Before we start the engines, ladies and gentlemen, let’s take a minute to review the car’s appearance. Rally Blue Pearl was the color we chose for our evaluation, because it’s the same color used on the current rally car, and because most of the test fleet happened to come in blue. The Impreza 2.5 RS heavily exploits the heritage of its sibling, the Impreza WRX, winner of several rallies including two-time winner of the World Rally Championship. The WRX is a production car, but unfortunately it is not available on these shores. Americans have to make do with the 2.5 RS, which we discovered borrows a great deal from big brother WRX.

A large air intake sits prominently on the hood of the RS yet does nothing to cool the engine, and its function was described as "more for appearance" than anything. The scoop probably does more harm than good, because aside from appearance, a brick sitting on the hood would create less drag. Another rally car imitation immediately apparent are gold-colored sixteen-inch alloys decorating every wheel. Say what you will to defend them, but the gold wheels look very standard. For HotWheels. Another appearance imitation is the rear spoiler, which manages to look like it belongs on the RS.

The 2.5 RS is a car that gets attention, but what kind of attention, and from whom? Enthusiasts will appreciate the rally heritage, but we found that police are also interested in the flashy appearance. During our test, the sweep car was pulled over and warned about the questionable speeds of some of the Imprezas on the test loop. That bold scoop and wheels may come back to haunt your insurance rates.

And can the Impreza go? Anything short of rally driving, and the 2.5 RS will suit any driver’s needs. The five-speed manual transmission borrows the short-throw linkage from the WRX, and that translates to fun, fast shifting that brings the car up to speed in no time. The 16 valve, DOHC engine puts out 165 horsepower and almost 20 lbs.-ft. more torque than the Outback Sport. This is the largest four cylinder boxer engine Subaru has ever brought to the U.S., and it fits the car nicely. With peak torque coming near the middle of the rev range, freeway passing is a cinch. But we can’t help but stare helplessly at the WRX, which takes 300 bhp at 6500 rpm from a smaller engine!

Okay, here’s the scoop on the WRX: don’t hold your breath. Subaru will maintain their modest performance in the U.S. and concentrate on their real niche: catering to the outdoors, rugged and sporty lifestyle. And safety is a big selling point in parts of this country, especially the regions prone to icy winters. People appreciate ABS with 4-wheel disc brakes as standard items on an all-wheel drive car. Spend a winter in Colorado, and you’ll understand why. So why the hood scoop and spoiler? We’re not sure. But from inside, the 2.5 RS won’t fool anyone.

Interior sportiness is limited to a black leather steering wheel and leather-wrapped shift knob, and a sunroof is standard. Otherwise, there’s nothing to make you feel like a race driver. In fact, the interior is surprisingly bland. Numerous screw heads are visible, and the entire dash looks and feels cheap. Our test car's passenger-side door-handle plastic popped out nearly unassisted. (Sorry, Subaru, but we popped it back in.) Sure, it’s plastic, but it feels too much like, well, plastic. Headroom is more than plenty for this 6’5" driver, but long legs easily get cramped during long drives. The armrest grip handles are worthless for holding on tight, unless you can brace yourself with a bent wrist.

We could have used more ergonomic grip handles with track time on the Seattle International Raceway, where Subaru provided some of their world-class rally drivers for rides in--what else? The WRX. Possum Bourne and Chad DiMarco piloted two Impreza WRX right-hand drive vehicles around the circuit at top speeds, and passengers in either car came away with newfound appreciation for Subaru and life in general.

Also providing service for the 2.3-mile track were several underrated drivers from various driving schools around the country. The 12-turn SIR, with a couple extra chicanes for good measure, proved more than enough punishment for the Impreza’s 205/55 R16 tires, though the 2.5 RS itself never felt out of shape. We aren’t sure whether to credit handling to the drivers or to the car’s superb traction, but those tires should not be used in serious racing. Chunks of rubber probably won’t fly off under normal driving conditions, but don’t take a series of turns at over 70 mph, or you’ll be spending more than your budget at the local Discount Tire Company.

The Subaru Impreza 2.5 RS is a good car with great built-in safety features that didn’t even have to be mandated by the government. As an added bonus, it’s fun to drive. For other fun-to-drive sporty all-wheel drive cars, the selection is limited. The Mitsubishi Eclipse GSX will get a higher top speed. If you’re into safe handling, the front-wheel drive Honda Prelude dials in similar understeer. As a day-to-day transport 365 days a year, the 2.5 RS is an intelligent buy. We expect the price to be very competitive with other sport coupes. But if you’re planning on doing any rallying across country safely on dirt roads, wouldn’t the WRX be perfect?

Used 1998 Subaru Impreza Overview

The Used 1998 Subaru Impreza is offered in the following submodels: Impreza Sedan, Impreza Coupe, Impreza Wagon, Impreza RS. Available styles include L 4dr Sedan AWD, L 2dr Coupe AWD, Outback Sport 4dr Wagon AWD, RS 2dr Coupe AWD, and L 4dr Wagon AWD. Pre-owned Subaru Impreza models are available with a 2.2 L-liter gas engine, with output up to 137 hp, depending on engine type. The Used 1998 Subaru Impreza comes with all wheel drive. Available transmissions include: 5-speed manual.

What's a good price on a Used 1998 Subaru Impreza?

Shop with Edmunds for perks and special offers on used cars, trucks, and SUVs near Ashburn, VA. Doing so could save you hundreds or thousands of dollars. Edmunds also provides consumer-driven dealership sales and service reviews to help you make informed decisions about what cars to buy and where to buy them.

Which used 1998 Subaru Imprezas are available in my area?

Shop Edmunds' car, SUV, and truck listings of over 6 million vehicles to find a cheap new, used, or certified pre-owned (CPO) 1998 Subaru Impreza for sale near. Simply research the type of car you're interested in and then select a used car from our massive database to find cheap prew-owned vehicles for sale near you. Once you have identified a used vehicle you're interested in, check the AutoCheck vehicle history reports, read dealer reviews, and find out what other owners paid for the Used 1998 Subaru Impreza.

Can't find a used 1998 Subaru Imprezas you want in your area? Consider a broader search.

Find a used Subaru Impreza for sale.

Find a used Subaru for sale.

Find a used certified pre-owned Subaru Impreza for sale.

Find a used certified pre-owned Subaru for sale.

Should I lease or buy a 1998 Subaru Impreza?

Is it better to lease or buy a car? Ask most people and they'll probably tell you that car buying is the way to go. And from a financial perspective, it's true, provided you're willing to make higher monthly payments, pay off the loan in full and keep the car for a few years. Leasing, on the other hand, can be a less expensive option on a month-to-month basis. It's also good if you're someone who likes to drive a new car every three years or so.

Check out Subaru lease specials
Check out Subaru Impreza lease specials