It's hard to imagine an America without the WRX, but Subaru sold its rally-ready sedan and wagon for nearly 10 years in Japan and Europe before it reached the States. In 2002, Subaru finally gave Americans the Impreza WRX, and at least according to MotorWeek, it was well worth the wait. The WRX actually lived up to its video game counterpart.
The 2002 WRX came equipped with a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder making 227 hp and 217 lb-ft of torque. Respectable numbers today, but very impressive for the time. Its 5.4-second 0-60 mph time and 14.3-second quarter-mile matched the significantly more expensive Audi S4 of its day.
The basis of the WRX's impressive performance is, of course, its clever all-wheel drive system, which gives it excellent handling prowess on road and track. That combined with feelsome steering led MotorWeek to declare the first US-market example "a poor man's M3." High praise for a sub-$30,000 car.
Interestingly, a base WRX sedan stickered for $24,520 back in 2002. MotorWeek considered this a bargain, but adjusted for inflation, that's of today's money. That makes the 2018 WRX with its sub-$28,000 base price seem like a steal.