January output was closer to the 320-350 mark.
Posted On May 27, 2019
January 1998, race day at the WRC. It was time for Subaru to impress the world with its newest, hyper-limited production car. The wonderful in every way Impreza 22B STi, was this very car– turbocharged, four-cylinder, four-wheel-drive Subaru technology that had been around since the 1993 release of the Impreza WRX was finally being cranked up a notch, more so than on the STi Type R. This special WRX, sold only in Europe and Japan on fear that Americans wouldn’t buy it, used a 2.0-liter turbocharged engine that was good for a reported 217 horsepower. In 1994, Subaru had shown the world the Type R Impreza WRX STi that had the same 2.0-liter engine, but it had better-flowing intake structure plus exhaust channels, and a better engine tune that was able of achieving more boost pressure. Subaru listed output at 280 horsepower but due to Japanese laws, this was the highest they could list–proper engine output was closer to the 320-350 mark. The 22B is by every definition, a Japanese ‘muscle’ car.The Type R was an amazing car, but Subaru knew it could do better. On top of this the company wanted to wow the world and make Subarus look like more of a sports car than a slower, more practical, auto. How did Subaru fix this? By strapping a larger engine in the 22B. For this to work, they also increased the cylinder bore size which in turn let the car punch out a fairly large displacement of 2.2 liters, an engine displacement newer to Subaru at the time. Subaru claimed that this made for better midrange torque, which when tested, actually did prove this. Compared to the Type R, a single turbocharger is still fitted, and the famous Subaru air-to-air intercooler which takes in more air and lets intake charge cooler and denser allowing for a higher output of power. As mentioned, Japanese law for automakers limits the claimable HP to 280, thus cutting down on unfair competition claims between the companies. Subaru did only claim that the 22B could produce 280, but this number has been tested many times outside of the Japanese car market and has proven to be false. The 22B is very similar to the looks of the 1999 Impreza 2.5RS sold in America, taking all but the fender flares that are famous to the 22B. The flares were put in place to mimic those of Subaru’s WRC (World Rally Championship) cars. Ever since the initial Impreza rally car was released back in 1994, Subaru has since earned over 10 championship wins in the American WRC league and countless more in the global WRC. More visual details, the hood scoop, which is only for show on the 2.5RS due to the fact it is a non-turbo car, actually pipes air to the intercooler on the 22B. This is hugely helpful when considering the heat that the intercooler produces. Another new addition was specially fitted water injectors that the driver could freely control by flicking a little switch on the dashboard. This technology further expanded Subaru’s knowledge of cooling systems which would later be implemented into more of their performance vehicles. Subaru also chose to keep the race bucket seats that we can see in the Type R, a race inspired addition to further excite audiences throughout the world.The 22B clocks impressive times around both a track and on the street. Due to its’ specially made four-wheel-drive system (that takes inspiration from their AWD systems), the car is able to achieve a rough zero to 60 mph in about 4.6 seconds, 100 mph in 13.0 seconds, and can accomplish the quarter-mile in 13.3 seconds at 101 mph. These numbers aren’t only impressive for those times, but for today’s standards, too, especially considering the car’s birth year. Generally speaking, to launch a high-horsepower four-wheel-drive car is usually a risky tactic, since achieving a solid launch requires slipping the clutch. Slipping the clutch is when a driver keeps one foot gently applying pressure to the clutch during acceleration—a tactic used mostly in professional racing. Basically, the clutch initiation works when two disks are pushed together with a very extreme force, allowing for built up energy to transfer from one plate to another. The danger here is if one plate isn’t fully engaged, it allows the engagement disk to slide and click past the other. The outcome of this is severe heat buildup which allows for the clutch plates and the flywheel to wear out extremely fast. To allow for this sort of heavy abuse, Subaru retrofitted the car with specially made, twin-plate ceramic metal clutch pads which allow for far superior heat resistance.Subarus are known for short gearing and lots of mid-range torque thanks to their specially tuned turbos. The car is reported to be able to hit 70 mph in fifth gear at a rough 4000 rpm. On a top speed test of the 22B, it was able to hit 144 mph as opposed to the claimed top speed of 151 mph. This is most likely because of Subaru’s famous airfoil inspired massive spoilers. Although this allows for a lot more stability and eases weight transfer when racing, it creates a severe drag coefficient. Overall, this is a highly powerful and impressive car that certainly has implanted itself into the minds of both WRC and JDM fans. The cars many improvements over others at the time, especially it’s far superior four-wheel-drive system, made it one of, if not the best car of the 90s. The car would go to win multiple stages of the WRC and truly made for a world wide spectacle. The same technology would later be used in the WRXs and STis that would be imported to the US starting in 2003. To find and buy one of the 400 22Bs produced now, you’re looking at around 100,000 dollars. Not a small price by any means, but I feel as though that price can be easily justified, especially because it’s the holy grail of the Subaru world.