Subaru has long been known for making superb all-wheel drive people movers like this Outback station wagon. But in fact, one of the most in-demand Subarus last year was the very sporty Impreza 2.5 RS coupe. As much fun as it is to drive, however, its 2-door configuration just isn’t practical for most buyers. So for 2000, Subaru has given its 4-door Impreza the 2.5 RS treatment. Well, it looks like Subaru’s most popular little sportster is about to become an even bigger hit.
The new 2000 Subaru 2.5 RS sedan is the same subcompact length, width and height as the original coupe, even with the convenience of the Impreza sedans’s two additional doors, and it packs inside all the good mechanical bits that make the 2.5 RS designation synonymous with small car fun.
Such as the 2.5-liter single-overhead-cam flat four engine, that makes 165 horsepower and 166 pound-feet of torque, and a precise, but somewhat notchy feeling, 5-speed manual transmission as standard. Or, if you’re still a bit timid, an optional 4-speed automatic.
Which feed a toughened, efficient all-wheel-drive drivetrain, now with a viscous limited- slip rear differential, all of which launch the 2.5 RS sedan to 60 in 7.8-seconds, and through the 1/4-mile in 15.9-seconds at 86 miles-per-hour. More doors does not make for a slower 2.5 RS.
The 2.5 engine pulls very strongly from stop to 6,000 rpm, with no flat spots and a very linear power band. The power delivery is complemented by the sport-tuned MacPherson strut suspension and 16-inch alloy wheels wearing 195/60R15 tires, a suspension system that we put to the test in West Virginia, on Summit Point Raceway’s challenging Jefferson Circuit.
On that twisting tarmac, the 2.5 RS sedan felt light and tossable. Initial understeer gave way to very solid grip, with plenty of feedback from the variable power rack-and-pinion steering. While overall not quite as tight as the last 2.5 RS Coupe that we tested, our 2.5 RS Sedan beats the pants off just about any other compact performance model for stability and feel.
Hard brake use produced stops from 60 of 124 feet on average, thanks to 4-wheel discs with standard ABS. We were pleased with the great pedal feel, minimal nose dive, and solid lateral stability.
While out in the real world, the 2.5 RS sedan delivers a solid, yet surprisingly compliant ride. EPA mileage estimates are 21 city/28 highway. Our car delivered an impressive average of 26 miles-per-gallon in mixed driving. To complement this fine driving performance, Subaru has dressed the 2.5 RS sedan in the same aggressive suit as its coupe sibling.
The front end wears the deep, rally-car-inspired chin spoiler with extra-large fog lamps, while the hood features rakish scoops and vents. There are deep side skirts as well, plus a lower- profile spoiler on the rear decklid.
Inside, the RS sedan is roomy for a sub-compact, and very well equipped. Air conditioning, power windows and locks, and a tilt steering wheel are all standard. While the supportive front bucket seats feature RS-exclusive checkered-flag upholstery, and the large analog gauges wear black-on-white faces.
And while the rear seat is still Impreza tight for tall adults, the addition of rear doors does make getting in there a whole lot easier. Trunk space for the sedan is the same 11.1 cubic-feet as the coupe, and that’s reasonable for a subcompact.
Reasonable too is the price of all this fun and functionality. The 2.5 RS sedan carries a base price of $19,790. Not a penny more than its 2-door counterpart.
Adding two more doors to the already successful 2.5 RS was a smart move by Subaru, and a welcome one for those folks that for reasons of family need or just daily convenience simply must have a 4-door sedan, yet who also wouldn’t think of settling for anything less than the best in factory-backed, small car high-performance.
Engine: 2.5-Liter Sohc 4-Cylinder
Torque: 166 Lb Feet
0-60 MPH: 7.8 Seconds
1/4 Mile: 15.9 Seconds @ 86 MPH
60-0 MPH: 124 Feet
EPA Mileage: 21 MPG City 28 MPG Highway