To celebrate Subaru’s 40th anniversary, they decided to manufacture a limited production-run road car that featured huge inspiration from their WRC car – with the view being to produce the closest thing they could to the real competition car. As such, in 1997 it was announced at the Tokyo Motor Show that Subaru would produce the 22B.
The car itself was based on the V4 Impreza Type-R, with various alterations made in the factory. The rear quarter panels and front wings were replaced with wider items, and the front and rear bumpers and side skirts closely resembled those of the 1997 WRC car too. The engine made use of Subaru’s iconic flat-four configuration, but this time in 2.2ltr guise – to offer increased mid-range power and torque. Combined with an uprated five-speed ’box and driver-controlled centre differential, the 22B was a swift car.
Subaru specified the car had 276bhp from the factory, although there are various rumours that it car had up to 350bhp, although this is often unsubstantiated. One thing’s for sure – the 22B was a sellout and has remained exclusive ever since. 426 models were made during the course of 1998, with three cars being destined for ownership by Colin McRae, Nicky Grist and David Lapworth, strangely all three were marked as 000 of 400. 24 were produced for sale outside of Japan, of which 16 came to the UK and were badged as 22B Type UKs. The remaining eight went to private collectors.
The 22B offers hard-hitting acceleration and back-road performance like few other cars on the road. The mid-range punch from the extra capacity helps propel it out of corners, and with the wider track and grip, the car remains stable. It’s light too, tipping the scales at 1270kg – so it makes the most of the power.
For real-world performance, the V4 Type-R that the 22B is based upon is a much more realistic option. It’s less exclusive but you won’t cry for nearly as long if you stick it in a hedge – but it offers a similar experience to the legendary 22B without the bigger price tag.
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