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Friday, July 1, 2016

Maisto 1:43 2002 and Welly 1:43 2015 Subaru Impreza WRX STi

It's interesting to note that despite the years of success on the World Rally Championship circuit, it wasn't until 2002 when Subaru finally brought over the WRX and WRX STi to US shores that diecast replica's started to show off.  Both brands shown here have made the 2002 WRX STi, but I'm showing the Maisto version for a few reasons: it was out first and it is vastly different from the 1:24 WRX version that Maisto also made.  Today it all Welly as they have released the latest WRX STi from 2015, and as usual both are blue with gold wheels!

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Maisto 2002 Subaru Impreza WRX STi

Replacing the bland Leone, the Impreza debut in 1992 as a sportier and modern compact car for the Subaru brand.  Especially in rally or WRX trim the front look like it came off of a rally car.  This generation also seen countless variations, but the WRX was never offered in the US.  Thanks to demand from enthusiasts the WRX finally arrived in the US in 2002 on the updated second-generation Impreza.  The styling was familiar except for the round headlights up front that was controversial and was updated twice in 2002 with square headlights and in 2004 with the tri-wing corporate grille.  The engine was the tried and true 2.0L turbocharged DOHC flat-4 that is so small that it mounts behind the front axle.  The intercooler sits above the engine just ahead of the intake where cool air comes from the hood scoop.  It produces 227 hp. and 219 Ib-ft of torque to a 6-speed manual transmission and to all four wheels with a 45/55 split between front and rear axles during normal driving.  For being clean, frugal, and fun the WRX STi proved to be a popular vehicle for young buyers coming into the Subaru showroom.

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Maisto released this 1:43 Power Racer quietly in 2002 as a much-improved result over the 1:24 scale version.  How do I know?  I used to have the 1:24 before I modded it (in a bad way) and then just donated it away.  It was nice at first, but the interior lacked a shifter and overall quality was not that great for a 1:24 scale.  The 1:43 has the STi package that the 1:24 lacks, and it looks better.  The front has the detailed round headlights, hood scoop, center grille, and foglight covers with the STi logo's.  The sides are clean except for side marker lights and gold split 5-spoke wheels that are tucked inwards for some reason.  The rear has the decklid spoiler, red taillights, Subaru badges, STi plate, and the exhaust tip.  As usual the base on Maisto Power Racer's lack detail, and the large motor takes up rear seat space.  The doors open to doorless inner panels and an interior that at least has a shifter on the console!  The dashboard is typical Impreza with detailed center stack controls and air vents, but adds sporty 3-spoke steering wheel and supportive racing front buckets.  After this nice blue the casting has grazed off into some wacky graphics or tuner model.

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Welly 2015 Subaru Impreza WRX STi

Now Welly did make the 2002 model in 1:43 as well, with a detailed base and interior, but they're all by themselves with the new 2015 model.  After spending the previous-generation as the 5-door hatchback-only STi, the fourth-generation WRX STi is now just a 4-door sedan; in fact, the 4-door sedan returned in 2011 on the previous generation, and RMZ City makes one in 1:43 scale.   The new Impreza is larger, fuel-efficient, and better quality interior materials than before, while the WRX drops the Impreza name and becomes its own line.  The styling is more crisper, while the large rear wing returns to the STi.  The interior is more cleaner and in line with the rest of the Subaru family.  The engine is now a larger 2.5L DOHC turbocharged flat-4 with the hood scoop still feeding the intercooler, now producing 310 horsepower through a six-speed manual transmission.  The full-time AWD and 45/55 torque split still continues, but now also includes a switch on the dashboard to select different ride feels.

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Welly makes two colors of these 1:43 models: red or blue, both with gold split 5-spoke wheels.  I naturally chose the blue because its the icon for the rally STi's.  The front has larger swept-back headlights with LED C lamps wrapped around the low-beams, square mesh grille with Subaru logo, and lower bumper with mesh grille and turn signal and foglights on the side scoops (I added details to the lights in the scoops).  The hood still adorns the scoop, but is now flush with the hood, while the front fenders flair out more to add contrast to the slab-sided (and rather tall beltline) sides.  Out back the massive rear spoiler sits on the trunklid, while the taillights get added details of the signal and reverse lamp areas, and the lower bumper diffuser gets aggressive quad exhausts that looks even better after I detailed them!

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The base underneath does not show much, but unlike the Maisto at least Welly attempted to show off the norm, with the main focus being the exhaust system.  The interior is larger than before, but once again the pullback motor still interrupts rear seat space.  The front has supportive seats that still have a bit of bolstering for hard cornering.  This version is right-hand drive, yet shows off the details on the dashboard very well.  Add silver accent details and it looks even more impressive!  The 3-spoke steering wheel and tri-pod gauges still continue, as does the shifter with some nice silver accents around it, and very basic center stack control layout.  Nothing has changed much between 2002 and 2015 aside from larger dimensions and better materials.

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Out of the two I prefer this new Welly 2015 WRX STi: it looks cool, complete, and looks more like a rally car than what the Maisto version could muster.  Plus try to find another one in diecast scale just like it:  As with the 2016 XC90 this Welly STi is in a segment all by itself.

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