Cars and Bids Bargain of the Week: 1999 Subaru Impreza 2.5RS

The WRX isn’t the only car Subaru makes, but it’s arguably one of its most iconic. However, just like its now-departed rival, the Mitsubishi Lancer Evo, it wasn’t always sold in the US. Before it offered the WRX here, Subaru broached the market with a different Impreza. And it’s this week’s Cars and Bids bargain worth buying, the Subaru Impreza 2.5RS.

The Subaru Impreza 2.5RS is the oft-overlooked WRX predecessor

A silver 2004 Subaru Impreza WRX sedan
2004 Subaru Impreza WRX | Subaru

The first WRX arrived in the US in 2002. But from 1998-2001, the sportiest Subaru Impreza was the 2.5RS model. And while it differs in several areas from its rally-bred cousin, the Impreza 2.5RS still has something to offer performance-interested drivers, Automobile reports.

Unlike the WRX, the Subaru Impreza 2.5RS doesn’t have a turbocharged engine. Instead, under the hood is a 2.5-liter flat-four with 165 hp and 166 lb-ft. That doesn’t sound like a lot, considering the 2003 WRX makes 227 hp. And many owners swapped in WRX or WRX STI drivetrains, Jalopnik reports. However, the 2.5RS does have a few WRX-like features.

For starters, like almost every other Subaru, the Impreza 2.5RS has all-wheel drive. And starting in 1999, the 2.5RS offered an optional limited-slip rear differential. It became standard on 2000 and 2001 models, Grassroots Motorsports reports. The Impreza 2.5RS also comes with 4-wheel discs brakes, a large rear wing, fog lights, a hood scoop, larger brakes, and alloy wheels.

Although the Subaru Impreza 2.5RS isn’t as fast as the WRX, it has a few advantages. It’s more comfortable as a daily-driver, Autoweek reports. And the naturally-aspirated engine means it’s easier and cheaper to fix if something goes wrong, Road & Track reports.

The clutch and shifter are easy to live with, Car and Driver reports. Plus, with AWD and a short wheelbase, the 2.5RS’ handling is best described with words like “responsive,” “nimble,” and “lively,” R&T and Gear Patrol reports. Especially once you get onto a loose surface, Jalopnik reports. It’s little wonder R&T considers it one of the best affordable race cars you can buy.

The 1999 Subaru Impreza 2.5RS on Cars and Bids

A silver 1999 Subaru Impreza 2.5RS
1999 Subaru Impreza 2.5RS | Cars and Bids

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The 1999 Subaru Impreza 2.5RS listed on Cars and Bids is a fairly atypical example. Not because it has a 5-speed manual or 171,300 miles on the clock. It’s because it’s essentially stock.

The 1999 Subaru Impreza 2.5RS' front seats and dashboard
1999 Subaru Impreza 2.5RS interior | Cars and Bids

It’s unknown of the Impreza 2.5RS on Cars and Bids has the then-optional limited-slip differential. However, the only modifications it has are an Alpine head unit and 2 trunk-mounted Rockford Fosgate amplifiers. Everything else—the leather-wrapped steering wheel and shifter, the A/C, power windows and mirrors, sunroof, and sport seats—is factory-standard equipment.

The rear 3/4 view of a silver 1999 Subaru Impreza 2.5RS coupe
1999 Subaru Impreza 2.5RS rear 3/4 | Cars and Bids

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This 1999 Subaru Impreza 2.5RS isn’t perfect. There’s some peeling paint on one mirror, numerous bumper scratches, and dents on the roof and the driver’s side rear quarter panel. However, the current owner has replaced the clutch, both drive belts, the battery, and all the brake pads and rotors. Plus, this Impreza 2.5RS has been California-registered since new and has a clean and accident-free history report.

What makes this car a bargain purchase?

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As of this writing, this 1999 Subaru Impreza 2.5RS is listed on Cars and Bids at $4800 with 3 days left in the auction. True, this is a somewhat high-mileage car. However, a 170,000-mile odometer isn’t unusual to see on an Impreza, especially the sportier models.

Plus, that price is rather low for a 2.5RS in this condition. The average Bring a Trailer price is closer to $10,000. And the most-desirable WRXs, the 2004-2007 models, cost 2-3 times as much on BaT.

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