Is the 2021 Subaru WRX Still an Impreza?

We all remember the days when the Subaru Impreza WRX was a thing (OK, let’s be real it still is). It’s an iconic Subaru street car with deep roots in the rally scene. But are the Impreza and the WRX the same car? Is the 2021 Subaru WRX still considered an Impreza?

A black 2009 Subaru Impreza WRX hatch on a country road
2009 Subaru Impreza WRX hatch | Subaru

You’ve likely seen the throwback Subaru Impreza WRX. Fans of the model baby them, making rally-inspired style and performance tweaks along the way. But when did the Impreza and WRX become separate models?

When did the Subaru Impreza and WRX become separate models?

According to MotorTrend, Subaru announced that the Impreza would drop the WRX badge and release a “new sporty car in 2014.” So in 2014 the Subaru WRX officially became its own model––separate from the Impreza. That means that for eight model years now the Impreza and WRX are separate Subaru models.

That doesn’t stop lovers of the older Impreza WRX models from getting confused. It’s not as if this change was breaking news––unless you’re really tapped into the automotive industry. The 2014 Subaru WRX, however, is officially the first model year that represents the separation between the two models. So, no the 2021 Subaru WRX is not still an Impreza. The models now stand alone.

The Subaru Impreza WRX STi

The Subaru Impreza WRX Sti is legendary. It dates back to deep rally roots. But when did it come out? And does it still exist?

a silver 2004 Subaru Impreza WRX
2004 Subaru Impreza WRX | Subaru

The first Subaru Impreza WRX STi debuted in the 1994 model year, according to Motor1. In the World Rally Championship, this model gained iconic status. It was built with function at its core. Subaru wanted to create a rally-ready car straight from the factory for mainstream sales. And it delivered.

The US didn’t see the Subaru Impreza WRX STi until the second generation in 2002. That’s when the love-it-or-hate-it “bug eye” body style released. Due to the controversial response Subaru received for its design, this generation saw a few redesigns.

“Subaru Tecnica International is the touchstone of all Subaru motorsport and performance vehicles.”


Then the third generation WRX STi came out in 2007. This generation saw the hatchback replace the wagon. It lasted until the official separation of the Impreza and the WRX in 2014.

What does WRX STi stand for?

The WRX in the Subaru WRX name stands for World Rally Experimental according to Subaru dealers. This keeps the branding in line with what the car was born for––performance. The WRX remains a straightforward vehicle that appeals to the drivers out there that just love driving.

The STi addition to a Subaru WRX model means amplified performance. STi stands for Subaru Tecnica International. It harkens to the fact that the Subaru WRX STi was developed with the World Rally Championship at its core. The Subaru WRX STi is a car designed with a very clear purpose in mind.

Is the Subaru Impreza a good car?

Yes, the 2021 Subaru Impreza is a compact car. According to U.S. News and World Report it boasts “sporty handling.” While it may be a bit more on the basic side compared with the WRX, the Subaru Impreza does come standard with all-wheel-drive.

2021 Subaru Impreza driving
2021 Subaru Impreza | Subaru

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It’s also roomy in the cabin and the infotainment controls are user-friendly and easy to learn. However, it still ranks below other compact cars in the segment. Boring acceleration and a small trunk bring the 2021 Subaru Impreza down in spite of its highlights. If you prefer a punchy and performance-oriented Subaru, you might find the 2021 WRX more appealing.