It's "Throwback Thursday" so I thought I'd write up an article on a car I get questions about weekly. From blog comments to e-mails to NASIOC messages, I'm always surprised how many questions I receive about the 2012 Subaru Impreza 2.0i that I owned. The car started life as a base model with a CVT and I did a good amount of modifications to it before I sold it. There aren't many folks out there modifying these 4th Generation Imprezas so, when I was doing my own research for the car, I learned quickly that a lot of what I wanted to do hadn't really been done before. I relied heavily on the experience of those around me. From local Subaru enthusiasts to friends at the dealership I work at, I was able to learn a lot and get things to work the way I had hoped on the car.
I actually went through two different versions of exhaust for this car. The first exhaust I used was a modified SPT Catback Exhaust made for a 2011-2014 Subaru WRX Hatchback. The mid-pipe on this was lengthened and the exhaust hangars were modified to fit the 2012 Impreza's existing hangar locations. This exhaust, while it sounded great, wasn't the best fit for the car. The low-slung nature of the exhaust caused clearance issues from the start. It also sapped power from the car, being a 3" Exhaust with no restrictions killed low-end power in the car. The nail in the coffin for this exhaust setup for me was the drone that it caused in the cabin, which is especially troublesome to deal with on cars with a Continuously Variable Transmission. Here's a link to the details on that system> The SPT Adventure
The second exhaust I did is probably what I get more questions about. The system utilized the stock Impreza exhaust and a BRZ. This system, while not really much louder than the stock Impreza exhaust, really made the car look great and even appear to be a factory option. The exhaust hangars from the BRZ Axleback section lined up perfectly with the Impreza's existing mounting points so no modification was needed there. The mid-pipe of the Impreza and BRZ exhaust were welded together just ahead of where it passes underneath the rear crossmember. Then I added dual-tip exhaust to the ends of the BRZ tips and cut holes in the lower section of the bumper to accomodate them. I finished it off with some Door Edge Guard cleverly applied to the edges of the cut-out sections to hide the rough edges of the cuts. This system was purely aesthetic and did not impact any performance or sound, but I still get lots of compliments about it. > Help from a BRZ
Hybrid Tail Lights
Thanks to the Impreza and Crosstrek sharing parts, when the 2013 Crosstrek Hybrid was launched, I had an idea to switch the LED Tail Lights from that onto my Impreza Hatchback. The tail lights would fit, but as I found when I purchased a set of them, the connections between the tail light housing and the wiring harness on the Impreza. While the wiring layout was identical between the Crosstrek and Impreza, the housings for the plugs were different shapes and would not connect. I de-pinned the Impreza and Hybrid Crosstrek tail light plugs, swapped them, and successfully hooked up the new LED Tail Lights to my Hatchback. No other modification was needed. I also managed to swap out the third brake light between the Impreza and Hybrid Crosstrek to keep the clear look of the new ones. > Hybrid Tail Lights on my Impreza
When I first got my Impreza, I had really hoped to get a Sport model but I couldn't afford it at the time. Instead, I decided to add a bit of Impreza Sport flare to the outside of my car by adding the side skirts that the Sport models came with. By using a VIN from an Impreza Sport, I was able to go to the Subaru Parts department and order all the clips and pieces I'd need to put these on the car. Then, after careful measurements, we drilled into the rocker panels, cleaned up and sealed the holes, and then installed the side skirts. They came unpainted from the factory and I was going to paint them to match, but I liked how they looked in black so we just kept them that way. > Sport Side Skirts
Rear Suspension Upgrades
The base model Imprezas don't come with a rear sway bar, but Subaru did at least provide the mounting points for them under the car. I decided to upgrade the handling in my Impreza with something a little bit stronger than what the stock Impreza would have come with. It turns out that a rear sway bar from a 2008-2014 WRX STI Hatchback is the perfect fit and, with a 19mm diameter, provides just the right amount of balance to give the car very neutral and predictable handling under sharp cornering. The sway bar, bushings, and bushing brackets fit perfectly onto my 2012 Impreza's mounting points. To connect them, I also needed endlinks. Instead of going with a Subaru part, I upgraded to Kartboy Rear End Links to give a good solid connection between my rear control arms and the sway bar. > Sway with Me
Wheels don't just make or break how good a car looks, but the right wheels can also improve your car's performance. Thankfully, I fell in love with the right wheels to do this. These wheels can be found on any 2011-2014 Subaru WRX and have a wider tread pattern to increase the contact patch with the road. The handling in my Impreza was further improved just by going with a wider wheel and tire. The only tricky part was finding the right tire size that would cause the least amount of change to my speedometer. I found that 225/45 R17 was about as close as I could get. These wheels didn't rub or cause any issues with the car when I had it. > Those Wheels
After doing handling improvements, the weak bolsters in the stock Impreza Seats were getting more and more obvious. Thankfully, when the 2015 Subaru WRX came out built on the same platform as the 2012 Impreza, a suitable replacement was available. The WRX seats shared the same brackets as the Impreza, so it was an easy bolt-in swap. These seats were also out of a base model WRX and the airbag wiring clicked in flawlessly, too. The stronger bolsters of the WRX seats along with the more aggressive looking styling and red stitching made this change incredibly enjoyable. The only downside was that the matching rear seats wouldn't also swap over, as my car was a Hatchback and the WRXs only came in a sedan model. I had tried to fit 2011-2014 WRX rear seats in my Hatchback but they didn't fit either. Still, the upgraded front seats were more than enough to put a smile on my face. > WRX Seat Swap
The important thing to realize from nearly all of these modifications is how most of these upgrades are taken from other Subarus. The Lego-like nature of Subarus makes swapping parts very easy, but the trick is finding out which parts swap over. For the most part, finding Subarus that are based on eachother or have a common platform will usually mean other parts will also swap over. Most parts between a 2012-2016 Impreza can use parts from 2013-2017 Crosstreks, 2015-2019 WRXs, and even a few pieces from 2014-2018 Foresters. Many of my modifications merely utilized this fact to turn my little base-model hatchback into a great looking and great driving car.