Remember the 22B Subaru Impreza WRX STI? This is our modern version

Because we may not see many more ICE STIs
by Andrew Guerrero | Jun 25, 2022
PHOTO: Andrew Guerrero

The 1998 22B Subaru Impreza WRX STI is probably one of the rarest and most desirable models to ever roll out of Subaru’s factory. It was developed to commemorate both the Japanese brand’s 40th anniversary and its three consecutive WRC manufacturer titles from 1995 to 1997. Production was limited to just over 400 units, and it only took a few days for all examples to be snapped by eager enthusiasts.

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The 22B WRX STI, with its two-door body and wide fenders, was the closest you could get to the factory-built road-legal Subaru WRC car. Compared to the standard STI, it packed a larger 2.2-liter turbocharged boxer engine but produced an identical 276hp on paper, though many believe the real figure be over 300hp. While later STI models have broken the 300hp barrier, those vehicles are larger and much heavier than the 22B.

Fast forward to 2022, and the 271hp WRX is the hottest all-wheel-drive Subaru—and sadly, it looks like it might stay that way. With the auto industry slowly making its transition to electrified vehicles, we may never see a new internal-combustion-engined high-performance STI model again. This gave me the idea of what to render next: A contemporary 2020s interpretation of the two-door 22B WRX STI—a final ICE model with a turbocharged boxer heart.

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What do we call our Subaru? I named it the ‘24B STI’ since it will now be powered by a 2.4-liter engine instead of a 2.2-liter. Since we’re not doing a retro car or restomod, I had to follow Subaru’s current design language. While modern, I wanted to keep the recognizable three-box profile of the 22B.

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Up front, we gave it a slimmer grille. At the bottom, it features a larger intake flanked by circular fog light covers with STI logos. The extra wide fenders and enlarged wheel arches were inspired by both the 22B and Subaru’s WRC car. Like the iconic ’90s classic, we gave it frameless windows. Unlike the new WRX, we moved the license plate to the rear bumper, just like the original car. It also gets a 22B-style adjustable rear wing. To keep the clean look, we stayed away from the WRX’s SUV-like black cladding. Our 24B WRX STI measures 4,483mm by 1,867mm by 1,379mm, and rides on a 2,591mm wheelbase.

With an estimated curb weight of 1,406kg, our 24B is over 100kg lighter than the WRX sedan. To keep the weight down, aluminum is used for the hood, trunk lid and doors, while carbon fiber makes up the roof panel. Removing the rear seats can further reduce the vehicle’s weight by about 20kg.

Under the hood is a 2.4-liter turbocharged boxer engine with a 48-volt mild-hybrid system, putting out an estimated 415hp and 510Nm of torque. This powerplant is mated to a good ol’ six-speed close-ratio manual transmission. Driver Controlled Center Differential all-wheel drive comes as standard. It should be able to sprint from zero to 100kph in under four seconds. It features an STI-tuned wide-track suspension with Bilstein shock absorbers, while gold 19-inch BBS forged alloy wheels and 255/35R19 tires come standard.

Would you consider the 24B STI if Subaru built it? Let us know in the comments.

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PHOTO: Andrew Guerrero
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