Here's Why the 2004 Subaru Impreza WRX STI Is an Icon

Here's Why the 2004 Subaru Impreza WRX STI Is an Icon

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this is a 2004 Subaru Impreza WRX STI and it is one of the most important performance cars made in the last 20 years 2004 was the first year of the WRX STI in North America and it helped bring back Japanese performance cars here after a long dormant period this is a pristine example of the original STI here in North America and today I'm
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going to review it I've borrowed this 2004 WRX STI from a viewer here in San Diego and I'm gonna start with a little history the Subaru Impreza first came out in Japan back in 1992 and almost immediately after its debut Subaru came out with a rally car version to go rally racing then they came out with a road version of the rally car and called it the Impreza WRX and then they came out with a higher performance version of
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that which was the Impreza WRX STI but not in North America the mid to late 1990s was a tough time to be a Japanese performance car in North America the decade started off great you had the Toyota Supra and a Subaru SVX and the Nissan 300zx and the Mitsubishi 3000gt and blah blah blah but one by one they were all cancelled as sales slowed down by the end of the 1990s Japanese
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performance cars were down to just one or two models available in North America then came the Fast and the Furious and the widespread popularity of the Gran Turismo video game series suddenly American car enthusiasts started to discover all of these cool Japanese performance cars they were missing out on the Mitsubishi Evo the Nissan Skyline and the Impreza WRX automakers quickly scrambled to get these cars into the
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American market starting with the Impreza WRX in 2002 and the mitsubishi lancer evo in 2003 and then in 2004 the WRX STI when this car came out it was huge this thing had 300 horsepower at a time when the Porsche 911 only had 320 and it was easily tunable for way more power which pretty much everyone did in fact finding
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this car was pretty hard because there are almost no clean stock unmodified examples left basically all of them have been tuned for huge power driven hard and crashed but not this one this one is pristine never modified and it only has 26,000 miles so today I'm going to take you on a tour of this car and show you all of the quirks and features of the original Impreza WRX STI at least as far
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as US Americans are concerned then I'm gonna get it out on the road and drive it and then I'm going to give it a dug score alright I'm gonna start the quirks and features of the STI with one of the very strangest quirks about the entire car and that would be the key this is the key for the STI this is not the valet key this is not some weird second or aftermarket key this is what you got it looks like a battery cutoff switch and some of the exotic cars that I review very strange maybe even weirder than the
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key though is the key fob this is the factory key fob for this car even though it very much doesn't look like it it doesn't say Subaru anywhere there's only two buttons one is orange and one is sort of a light blue lavender they're not really labeled except for tiny little labels printed on the fob that you can't see that's the weird key key fob situation in the STI but anyway once you get over you're surprised at the weirdness of the key situation you climb inside and the very first thing you think when you get in here is this
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interior is cheap and I mean really cheap everything everywhere just looks inexpensive crappy not very high quality you just have cheap plastic on basically every surface every piece everywhere you look or touch none of it is very high quality but that was kind of the point of this car it was cheap speed if you wanted a fast car that was also luxurious you could buy a BMW 3-series but the BMW 330i which was the top-end model when this car came out had only
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225 horsepower this thing had 300 and so if you were really serious about performance and not luxury and finishes and trim the STI was available but with that said there's proof of this cars kind of cost-cutting cheap interior basically everywhere you look in here for instance in the cup holder there's a cup holder that pushes out of the centre control stack you can see it extends right out but it is the flimsiest crappiest cup holder you will ever attempt to put your drink in so you're
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thinking alright well is there at least a second cup holder somewhere else and the answer is no there is a second cup holder in the centre console but it is so ridiculously tiny you can't get any rationale cups in here it's absolutely ridiculously tiny clearly an afterthought they just had a space there and they thought well let's put in a cup holder for very small cups and next up for another example is some rather amusing cost-cutting I have always loved the steering wheel in this car the center of the steering wheel is plastic but Subaru tried to make it look like upscale metal
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but they didn't try very hard it's clearly plastic and the little rivets on the sides are clearly fake now the funny thing is they actually did go with metal for the area around the gear lever and you have real rivets there but if you compare it to the steering wheel Center which is only like 10 inches away you can see they don't even come close to matching Subaru clearly cheaped out for the center of the steering wheel they just made this piece and thought well this will do now next up the next thing you notice when you climb inside this
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car after all the cheapness is the fact that it's very blue in here and I don't just mean the seats are blue like they would be in a modern car with kind of a brightly colored interior I mean everything is blue including the carpeting is all blue all throughout the interior front and back all of the carpeting is blue now on top of the blue carpeting you have blue floor mats so there's blue carpeting on top of blue carpeting in this car they just really went everywhere with sort of a blue explosion same deal with the door panels
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once again even more blue they really really wanted to emphasize that world rally blue color so you got a very blue interior with this car and next up another thing you notice immediately when you climb into this car is the lack of STI badging I found STI badges in this car in only four places there's one on the shifter base at the top you can see it says STI you have STI badges on the seats on both seats it says STI and looks very nice on the steering wheel it says STI right in the middle of that
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fake metal piece and then in the gauge cluster it says STI but that's it this is unfathomable by modern standards today's performance cars say they're special performance trim level everywhere Focus RS badges BMW M badges AMG in this car once again they kept it as cheap as possible to make you go fast as possible for as little money as possible with that said you didn't get a few niceties in here when you bought the top-of-the-line Impreza WRX STI for
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example there is a six disc CD changer and it's in - none of that trunk or glove box mounted stuff you can just stick all your CDs right into the slot and play them whenever you want and next up we move on to the glovebox where you will find the owner's manual and I just love that this owner's manual pouch it's like this rubber pouch with the WRX STI logo printed on the outside I think that looks really cool very fitting with kind of a character fun nature of this car and you open up this owner's manual pouch and you'll discover the original
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window sticker this car had a sticker price of 31 997 just under $32,000 now the guy who owns it now told me that he paid 26 thousand dollars for this car seven years ago when it had 13,000 miles so it barely lost any value admittedly a very low mileage example he thinks it's worth 28 29 maybe into the low $30,000 range today meaning you could still get the sticker price these cars notoriously keep their value especially when they're
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in really nice condition like this but it's just crazy to imagine a 15 year old Subaru with no sunroof but a fake metal steering wheel Center is worth 30 grand meanwhile a Mercedes s-class from this era is worth like nine this thing is just really desirable in the used market for its tune ability its reliability and its performance now as for the owner's manual itself I looked through it nothing particularly interesting in there it's about as straightforward and simple as this car is although the cover
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is a bit odd you can see it says Subaru and president of your ex STI owners manual but then in between there's a picture of a rock formation which I don't really understand that's not really related to this car or to performance cars or really anything it's just on there I guess and next step I want to move on to some of this cars rather quirky interior features that stem from its heritage as a weird 90s Japanese performance car one is the fact that
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this car has no fog lights you can see in the front there's a cover where the fog lights would be right below the headlights the cover says STI on it so even though this is like a high-performance rally car based vehicle that's intended to go fast through bad weather you don't have fog lights to see very well so what's the deal with that well it turns out that you have a rather interesting replacement for fog lights over to the left of the steering wheel there's a little dial that can control the angle of the headlights so if you're
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in a foggy situation you can angle your headlights to face down and then it will illuminate what's directly in front of you now this is common on cars in some regions of the world but very rare in North America but the STI has it and it works check this out I am moving the dial and you can actually see the lights adjusting as I move the dial to various different settings to illuminate different parts of the road very interesting and next up next to the headlight adjustment dial you have a
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button marked icy water spray this button controls water spraying on the intercooler which is rather unusual but here's how this works if it's a really hot day or if you've been driving your car hard the intercooler could have trouble cooling down air as it passes from the turbocharger into the engine so you press this button and it will send out a burst of cold water onto the intercooler to cool it down which will help cool down the air going into your
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engine this is a very unusual feature but some WRX STI owners use it and claim that it works on like a hot track day to cool down your engine the air coming into your engine just press the little button and spray your intercooler but probably the most unusual kind of car geek Japanese performance car feature in this vehicle is the DCCCD which stands for the drivers control center differential there is a button in the center console that says DCCCD
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menu now in normal circumstances this feature is in automatic mode but if you press this button you can put it in manual mode which allows you to basically control when the limited slip differential kicks in and how much it helps out to aid your handling when you're driving around now if you put it in manual mode you can use this little dial in the center console marked c-diff to adjust your differential and you can go through various different settings starting from 100% lock you would use that in snow or
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ice or like a gravel loose road all the way down to zero percent if you kind of want to get the tail out when you're driving on a racetrack and trying to drift now as you adjust that dial you can see these little lights in the gauge cluster will light up to let you know what your current setting is and basically how much the differential is kicking in virtually all SPI owners just leave this in automatic mode and the car will basically automatically decide how much differential is necessary based on your driving style but if you're in a very
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specific circumstance you may want to put it in manual mode and dial it up yourself and you can and next up we move on to the backseat of the o4st I I have to say this is a pretty depressing place to be for one thing there's not much room back here I have the front seat moved pretty far up and even then my knees are pushing into it that's kind of the point the STI is based on the Impreza which is a compact car but don't realistically expect to use this as family transportation but the back seat
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of this car isn't a great place to spend time for more reasons than just the fact that it's small how about there's no storage pocket in the back door there's clearly a space for it but they decided not to angle the plastic in such a way that you can actually store anything in the back door so if you want to you're out of luck and it gets worse back here there are no climate controls for the backseat not all that surprising but there's also no climate vents so you don't even get any additional air blown on you beyond what's coming from the front and next up how about the fact
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that there's no center armrest in this car even though there's clearly a space in the middle seat where they could have had an armrest come down so you could rest your arms and maybe have some cup holders you don't get that in the STI too bad and here's yet another cost-cutting measure you don't even have the same seat material in the back as you do in the front in front you have this cool blue perforated Alcantara looks very nice keeps you in place on the track back here it's just blue cloth it looks similar but when you touch it
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very different material obviously not perforated they just didn't want to spend the money and next up we move on to the trunk in the STI and when you open up the trunk the very first thing that you notice is that it's not as big as it could be the trunk goes to the end of the car on the left side but on the right it doesn't so why is that well inside the hump on the right side of the trunk is the take for that intercooler water spray if you open up this little cover you can see there's a cap and this
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is where you can refill the water if you run out of intercooler spray water because you've been trying to do high-performance driving in the heat and you have sprayed your intercooler too much and next up living under the rest of the interesting trunk quirks and features for one thing you see a lot of the same cost cutting back here that you saw in the front seat and in the back seat for instance there's no trunk lining on the inside of the trunk lid it's just exposed sheet metal doesn't really look all that nice but again they weren't going for luxury so that's just
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what you have and speaking of the inside of the trunk lid you have the emergency trunk escape latch like in all cars but I especially like this graphic which is just the crappiest one of these graphics I've ever seen doesn't even really look like this guys jumping out of a car looks like he's getting out of the trunk of us sombrero you think they could have done a little bit better with that graphic but that's what she got and next up since I'm outside the STI let's talk exterior and I want to start with the headlights the headlights were always a
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sore spot on this generation of Impreza when it first came out in 2002 it had circular headlights that looked like this they called this the bug eye model most people didn't like the circles they thought it didn't really fit with the rest of the design of the car so they lasted only two years in 2004 the STI was coming out and they changed the front end of all the Impreza models to look like this with these headlights which I always thought was totally but then a few years later Subaru decided they wanted a new corporate
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front-end to fit on all of their cars so they changed the headlights once again to look like this which I always thought was absolutely bizarre very weird didn't fit the car at all everybody else thought the same thing and Subaru dropped this corporate front end and they stopped using it within just a few years so this version of Impreza went through three different headlight designs in just a few years ironically the most attractive headlight design this car ever had was on desaad 9 2 X
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which was this weird sub version of the Subaru Impreza made for various reasons I don't get into right now but the point is despite all this effort that Subaru had to make the front end look good it was a Saab that wore it best now as for the rest of the design of this car there are so many things that I absolutely loved one is the hood scoop all of the turbocharged and present models from this era had a hood scoop the non turbo ones didn't that's how you could tell them apart but the STI had an even bigger hood scoop so even more air
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could get sucked into the engine because it was the highest performance model of course I also love the gold wheels you didn't have to get gold wheels if you got an STI but who wouldn't they match the rally car they looked so cool and I really think it is the best use of gold wheels on any car ever except maybe the Lamborghini Countach and that's pretty good company I also love the flared fenders of this car so many 80s rally car legends had flared fenders and nobody's really doing that today but
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this car did flared in the front flared in the back just to let you know a little bit more that this was something special something cool and then of course there was the rear wing these days you can get a wingless STI and I think that's the way to go I generally hate these giant Subaru rear wings but it does complete the look of this car this was how these things came and to me you have an STI from this era you have this rear wing it just goes hand in hand and next up one other interesting exterior item is the
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fact that almost all of the STI insignia on the outside of this car is just decals on the front fog light cover you have these vinyl decals that are all sort of individual and they look nice but there's still decals but to me the crazy one is on the doors you have STI Subaru Technica International on these like long strip decals are the kind of things that you'd buy on Etsy or have somebody make you on eBay it's crazy to me that they didn't bother with actual badging beyond these simple decals but
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this is just another example of them cutting costs to make this car as simple and as cheap as possible so you could go as fast as you could without spending all that lunch and finally we move under the hood and you can see this car's engine turbocharged flat-four makes about 300 horsepower and about 300 pound feet of torque the craziest thing about the STI is the fact that those numbers are pretty much what it's still making today and it's such a shame because when
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this car came out it was a dominant force like I mentioned only 20 horsepower behind the 911 10% down from the bmw m3 it was one of the hottest most insane performance cars of its day and since then everything else has gained power gained acceleration the STI has stayed pretty much the same somehow and by the way speaking of the engine I've always loved that they print STI so large on the intercooler I love how this
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looks it's so prominent you can even see it through the front hood scoop if you look closely this giant STI badge just printed there I love that and so those are the crooks and features of the 2004 Impreza WRX STI now it's time to get it out on the road and see how it drives all right driving and the STI if you're like 14 or 15 right now I think it's kind of hard to understand why this car is so special here's my I'm
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a grandpa moment there was nothing like this when this car came out the Japanese were not doing performance cars there was no lexus is-f for LFA there was no WRX there was no Evo the Nissan z-car was dead the NSX was clearly dying the Integra Type R at just gone away it was a dark time and I'll never forget in Oh two Subaru came out with the bug-eyed WRX and I was 14 I was about to get my learner's permit and I wanted one so
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badly and I begged my parents to get me one which was absurd because at that time they had never even spent that much money on a car for themselves I don't know why I thought was even possible and of course they didn't and I got a very used Volvo but I wanted one so bad because I had been playing Gran Turismo for so long and he watched Fast and the Furious and everybody wanted that WRX to come out to America and then finally oh - it comes out oh three the Evo comes out and then oh four this was like the Holy Grail and all anybody wanted to
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talk about at that time was Evo versus STI that was the only conversation you were having on the internet on forums back in oh three oh four and it was so cool the latest sti's have gotten lost in the shuffle they never grew in terms of power or performance they're just not as special as they once were but when this car came out it was everything now before I talk driving sprints I also want to talk about fun modifying STI pretty insane and all the STI people watching this would be like how did you find this thing the guy who owns his car had a bug
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i WRX before this and he modified the hell out of it blew the motor and so he decided I'm just gonna get an STI not mod it that'll be enough and so he found this one mint in Utah flew out there bought it drove it back to San Diego and it is still mint and he told me he drove it regularly for several years but now he's got a daily a pickup so what's it like well the answer is it still feels fast and it still feels nimble you know I Drive the modern STI and it's a same horsepower in a car that now has way more tech way more safety equipment and
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it just doesn't feel as fast but this car felt like it was alive compared to newer ones that feel more substantial but that was kind of part of the part of this thing it was just it was just little and powerful and a sedan and you just threw it around I can't believe how petty this car is and how heavy it feels especially compared to modern STI super oh I feel like should drive a modern STI back to back with one of these and realize kind of where some of the fun went oh it's just quiet
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then I'd admit it's not like crazy crazy sports car fast obviously there are much faster cars than this but the thing that's cool about this car it's possible it's funny you can throw around it accelerates pretty quickly and it's just there's just not all that much to it there's not much packaging here you just have a pretty basic car I still kind of like the STI I think it's a cool looking car they get drives pretty well but it's been years since I've driven one of these and now that I'm driving this I realize nah this was better and it's rare that you can say that a lot of car
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enthusiasts I know eighties cars were so much better nineties cars for better well no they weren't but this is I think a rare car where you could make an argument power hasn't increased this one was more fun more possible you can make it argument that this one's in there and so that's the 2004 Subaru Impreza WRX STI this was a special car when it first came out and frankly it's even more special today because it hasn't been crashed or
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modified or given an exhaust that makes it sound like a damaged trombone this was the very beginning of the STI here in North America and it's really cool to see where such an iconic car got its origin but anyway now it's time to give this car a dug score starting with the weekend categories and styling the o4s VI is reasonably nice not amazing and it gets a 6 out of 10 acceleration does 0 to 60 in 5.1 seconds and it gets a 5 out of 10 handling a spry not quite like a sports car but
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very nice and it gets a 6 out of 10 fun factor is decent this is an enjoyable exciting car and it gets a 6 out of 10 cool factor is also pretty good this car is still excitingly cool especially in this condition and it gets a 6 out of 10 for a total weekend score of 29 out of 50 next up are the daily categories and features by modern standards the STI doesn't have much and it gets a 3 out of 10 Comfort is average not uncomfortable but not luxurious and it gets a 5 out of 10 quality is only okay these are reasonably reliable but the interior just feels cheap and it gets a 5 out of 10 practicality is normal for a car like
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this and it gets a 5 out of 10 finally value and I think these are expensive for what they are but they also barely lose any value so it gets a 7 out of for a total daily score of 25 out of 50 add it up in the Doug score is 54 out of a hundred I've never reviewed the Mitsubishi Evo the STI is closest competitor but here's how the STI does against some other similar cars the o4 STI ends up with the same weekend score as the new STI type RA and it puts in a respectable overall effort despite its age
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