Getting behind the wheel of a gravel-churning icon

These days, the Subaru WRX has a pretty hardcore following in the U.S., but the legendary boxer bad boy we know today didn’t start with the “bug eye” second-gen model that hit these shores in the early 2000’s. To find the WRX’s true genesis, you’ve gotta go back to the ‘90s, when Subaru started building its rally-inspired hero using the older GC8 Impreza platform. Those first-gen WRX’s came in a variety of flavors, including stripped-down rally-ready iterations and even a few wagons, but the most impressive of the lot was the remarkable 22B. This lust-worthy AWD monster has an almost mythical air about it, with just over 400 units produced, none of which were slated for the U.S. That makes it exceedingly rare to find one in the states, but luckily, our friends over at Motor Trend managed to track one down for a thorough road test, and the result is this engaging nine-minute video.

Introduced in 1998, the 22B celebrated the Six Stars’ 40th anniversary, as well as its impressive triple consecutive manufacturer’s titles in the World Rally Championship. As such, the 22B came equipped with a high-strung 2.2-liter turbo engine, wide body exterior, World Rally Blue paint job, and gold 17-inch multi-spoke wheels. Upgraded aero, Bilstein suspension bits, and high-spec brakes completed the performance package. Just a single glance at this thing reveals its intentions, and one could argue that the be-winged sport compacts of today owe much to the 22B’s success.


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