2003 Subaru Impreza WRC

It doesn't get much better than this...

Challenging the best at almost every round of the ’03 WRC season, the Works Team’s title hopes rested upon the new ‘Blobeye’ ‘GD’ platform.

Call this boxer Mike Tyson

Call this boxer Mike Tyson

On debut, the 2003 car was the quickest Impreza in the model’s history. With a signature turbocharged 2.0 litre 4-pot boxer up front, the WRC-spec car put a reliable 300bhp and 435 lb-ft of torque to all four wheels via a rapid 6-speed sequential, courtesy of Prodrive. The IHI turbo provided ample boost over the roughest and most varied terrain the planet had to offer and helped the team achieve several wins and consistent points finishes throughout the season. 300bhp in a racecar doesn’t sound like a tremendous amount, despite it being plenty of shove in the real world. The fully built Prodrive boxer engine was capable of putting out over 600bhp, but the regulation-mandated 34mm restrictors kept the playing field level.

Corner office with a view

Corner office with a view

A unitary steel chassis, mostly shared with the road car, could be credited with the team’s success. Despite its humble beginnings, the Impreza’s chassis bore the brunt of the long championship’s brutal abuse, and that’s mightily impressive to me. McPherson strut suspension soaked up the lumps, bumps and jumps, while power-assisted rack-and-pinion steering kept the two Scandinavian drivers from ending up in the trees too many times. Despite weight being the enemy of most racing disciplines, rally requires strength above all else. That’s not to say that the blob eye was heavy - weighing in at 1230kg. Alcon calipers brought it down from speed, with disc size changed for each surface to maximise braking performance and reduce lockups.

Not as aggressive as the Hawkeye that followed, but still mean as hell

Not as aggressive as the Hawkeye that followed, but still mean as hell

Coming home first in Cyprus, Australia, France and Britain, the 2003 showed its potential to win. Solberg impressed, as he has a tendency to do, while Mäkinen struggled, retiring 4 times with a best finish of 2nd. The team achieved 3rd overall in the Manufacturer’s championship, while Solberg pipped Loeb to 1st place in the Driver’s championship by a solitary point. What a car.

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