Subaru has long been known for building some of the most capable and versatile vehicles in the world. Popular models like the Impreza, Forester, and Outback have long been favorites of outdoor enthusiasts, and every year their cars get more reliable.
But the Japanese company has long been known for producing a line of fantastic, rally-inspired, performance cars to add to their line-up. While it may not build the fastest production cars of all time, the automaker does still hold the advantage in its all-wheel drive technology. But what are its fastest cars?
Most of Subaru’s cars are governed to specific top speeds with electronic limiters, so we’ve judged the fastest Subarus based on acceleration time from zero to 60 miles per hour. Naturally we excluded concept models, one-offs, and heavily-modified aftermarket builds in order to keep it “production vehicle specific.” And since certain models like the WRX STI ts Type RA and the Legacy Turbo models from the early 1990s don’t have reliable performance statistics available, they were omitted from the list.
15. 1992 SVX
Zero to 60: 7.3 seconds
In the late ’80s, Subaru gave legendary car designer Giorgetto Guigaro (the man behind the DeLorean DMC-12, Volkswagen Golf, and BMW M1) free reign to design a luxury grand tourer. And shockingly, the automaker sent the concept into production with few, if any, cosmetic changes. The result was the wild SVX, which debuted for 1992.
Hitting sixty in 7.3 seconds and a top speed of 143 miles per hour, the big coupe was equipped with a 3.3-liter flat-six engine, and rocked all 230 horsepower and 224 pound-feet of torque straight to redline. It was a true GT car, but it cost nearly $10,000 more than any other model in the Subaru lineup, and it was only available with an automatic transmission (which was prone to overheating). Plus, its wind-diffusing side windows, avant-garde sheetmetal, and funky interior styling made it too much for most ’90s car buyers. Produced for just five years, today the SVX is quickly becoming a collector car.
14. Outback 3.6R
Zero to 60: 7.1 seconds
Car buyers can’t seem to get enough of the Outback, Subaru’s long-serving all-wheel drive wagon. With good cause: It’s soberly handsome, reliable, safe, and is a great value. In short, it’s the perfect modern family car. The standard 2.5 liter models leave something to be desired in the performance department, but opting for the 3.6 liter flat six means 256 horsepower and 247 pound-feet of torque. With a limited top speed of 139 miles per hour, and a zero to 60 time of 7.1 seconds, you aren’t going to win many drag races. But it’s enough power to make merging and highway passing fun.
13. 2016 Legacy 3.6R Limited
Zero to 60: 7.1 seconds
Everything that mechanically makes the Outback 3.6R a mildly thrilling family car can be found in the Legacy 3.6 R — except for the long roof and extra cargo room, of course. Despite a slightly lower ride height, the six-cylinder Outback and Legacy are very closely related, right down to the same all-wheel drive system, engine, and Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT). With the big motor, Subaru’s respectable midsize sedan has 256 horsepower and 247 pound-feet of torque on tap. Top speed is 139 miles per hour, and zero to 60 comes in — you guessed it, 7.1 seconds.
12. 2014 Forester 2.5 XT
Zero to 60: 5.9 seconds
It’s pretty wild to think that a lite-crossover like the Forester can outperform everything on the list thus far, but it’s true. This is no ordinary people mover: With revised gearing and its turbocharged 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine producing 250 horsepower, the 2004 to 2008 Forester 2.5 XT was a genuine sleeper car. It was able to hit 60 miles-per hour in just 5.9 seconds and, thanks to its mechanical similarities to the WRX, can easily be made to go even quicker by swapping out a few key parts.
Zero to 60: 6.2 seconds
The old cliché is that it’s more fun to drive a slow car fast than a fast car slow, and no model drives that point home better than the BRZ. Jointly developed with Toyota (its 86 is virtually identical), this compact 205 horsepower sports car may be light on power, but it’s one of the most satisfying driver’s cars on the market. With a top speed of 134 and a zero to 60 time of 6.2 seconds, the BRZ isn’t a speed machine, but its revvy boxer four mated to a crisp manual six-speed gearbox and fantastic chassis makes it one of the most fun to drive cars you can buy for under $30,000.
10. 2010 Legacy 2.5 GT Limited
Zero to 60: 5.8 seconds
It may look like another used car today, but the 2010 to 2014 Legacy 2.5 GT Limited bested the current, and much larger, 3.6R flat-six by quite a bit, as it shared a lot of genetic make-up with Subaru’s mighty STI. Making the trip from zero to 60 in 5.8 seconds, the 2.5 GT Limited used a turbocharged flat-4 engine, was available with a manual transmission, and was limited to a top speed of 150 miles per hour. With 265 horsepower, and 258 pound-feet worth of torque this hot Legacy was a real surprise for performance seekers. If you’re fortunate enough to find a Legacy GT wagon somewhere with a clutch, buy it: That’s a high-powered unicorn right there.
9. 2010 Impreza WRX Sport Wagon
Zero to 60: 5.8 seconds
How do you improve on the base WRX? Turn it into a wagon, of course! Although it’s no longer in production, the WRX Sport Wagon was a just-civilized rally machine that could jet past most of its competition with a zero to 60 sprint of 5.8 seconds. At its peak late last decade, the Sport Wagon’s turbocharged flat-4 made 227 horsepower and 217 pound-feet of torque, making it one of the coolest carpool vehicles on the planet.
8. 2006 Legacy GT spec.B
Zero to 60: 5.3 seconds
Subaru only made 500 Legacy GT spec.B sedans between 2006 and 2009, they cost quite a lot for a Legacy, and they were only available in one color: dark silver. But they shared the 250 horse powerplant with the aforementioned Legacy GT, and according to Car and Driver, it had a navigation system that cost $1,200 more than the one drivers found in that model. But it did have better suspension, bigger brakes, wider wheels, and flew to 60 miles per hour from a standstill in 5.3 seconds. The spec.B’s fatter wheels and increased grip were great, but we love that it was only available with a six-speed manual gearbox had and a slick limited edition interior too.
Zero to 60: 5 seconds
Here’s the model everyone has been waiting for, the storied World Rally eXperimental, or WRX. Long a favorite of enthusiast commuters and rally drivers alike, the WRX has seen numerous incarnations over the years, but the current base model is still able to hold its own as one of Subaru’s fastest. The all-wheel drive WRX jets from zero to 60 in five seconds, utilizing a 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine that makes 268 horsepower and 248 pound-feet of torque, partnered with a six-speed manual transmission. While it often gets overshadowed by its bigger twin, the STI, for the money ($27,000 and up), it’s one of the best performance deals out there.
6. WRX STI
Zero to 60: 4.8 seconds
The WRX is hot, but the model to get is the take-no-prisoners STI. This souped-up version can hit the 160 mile per hour mark, and make the sprint from zero to 60 in just 4.8 seconds. The STI has even more rally car DNA than the base WRX, but doesn’t compromise on everyday practicality. If you want to go fast both on and off-road, the STI is the Subaru to get.
5. 2009 Impreza 330S
Zero to 60: 4.8 seconds
Even to Subaru fans, the Impreza 330S isn’t exactly well-known, but it put up some impressive performance numbers at the end of the last decade. The 330S blasted from zero to 60 in 4.8 seconds, using a beefed-up 2.5-liter turbo flat-four that cranked out 325 horsepower and 347 pound-feet of torque. As the five-door hatch combined a six-speed manual gearbox with Subaru’s symmetrical all-wheel drive system, this U.K.-only version of the Impreza could be considered one of the best Subaru models ever built.
4. 2013 WRX Special Edition
Zero to 60: 4.7 seconds
Perhaps the most “specialized” variant of the WRX to ever see release was a Special Edition. With its signature “Punkin Orange” color and blistering 4.7 second zero to 60 run, this decal-laden tangerine dream was a highly coveted machine when it first came out. Built with a wider body and bigger, blacker wheels, this limited run offering was a beast both on and off the track.
3. 1998 Impreza 22B STI
Zero to 60: 4.7 seconds
Famously called “The Subaru from Hell” by Car and Driver, the ultra-limited 22B was a street legal rally car that put up startling numbers. Rocking the boxy, early 1990s look, just 424 cars were built to commemorate Subaru’s 40th anniversary. Unsurprisingly, they sold out almost instantly. Limited to an overall top speed of 144 miles-per hour, and rocking an unorthodox 2.2-liters of engine displacement, the 22B could scramble from zero to 60 both on- and off-road in just 4.7 seconds. A bona-fide future classic, this 280 horsepower monster is arguably the most desirable Subaru ever built.
2. 2012 WRX STI S206
Zero to 60: 4.5 seconds
Somehow Subaru engineers have a knack at topping themselves with WRX editions, and the 2012 STI S206 is one of the best. While most Americans remain unaware of its existence, the Japan-exclusive neck-snapper was ratcheted-up to 316 horsepower, and makes 60 look slow in just 4.5 seconds. Couple this with 318 pound-feet of torque and some serious JDM cred, and suddenly you’ve got a car that is designed to make any high school-age gearhead drool.
1. 2004 STI WR1
Zero to 60: 4.3 seconds
The WR1 may look like its milder brethren, but it was extremely advanced in the performance department. Producing 342 horsepower from a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine is no easy feat, but Subaru got this little demon to hit a top speed of 155 miles-per hour without issue. Zero to 60 was timed at 4.3 seconds, and since the WR1 was a limited-run reproduction of a Subaru rally car, it was both rare and expensive. Originally used to win rally championships in its heyday, this car remains the fastest production car Subaru has ever turned out. As great as it is, here’s hoping Subaru builds something to challenge it sooner rather than later.