Subaru is the only company that can claim that their drivetrain is symmetrical for this class size of vehicle.
Compared to vehicles in a similar size class such as Toyota Corolla, Honda Civic, Nissan Sentra, Mitsubishi Lancer and Mazda 3, only the Impreza has always offered AWD, and as of 1996 Subaru made this feature standard equipment in some markets.
Subaru chose to continue their longstanding use of the boxer engine in the Impreza. According to Subaru, their configuration of the engine inline with the transmission minimizes body roll due to the lower center of gravity compared with offset engines in most other vehicles. The Subaru layout is also light-weight and lends itself easily to support all-wheel-drive. The boxer design provides perfect vibration mitigation due to the fact that the movement of each piston is exactly countered by the corresponding piston in the opposing cylinder bank, eliminating the need for a counter-rotating weighted crankshaft (harmonic balancer). Torque steer is also reduced with this type of powertrain layout since the front drive shafts are of equal length.
Introduced in November 1993, the Impreza was offered in either front wheel drive (FWD) or all wheel drive (AWD) versions and as a four-door sedan/saloon or five-door station wagon/estate. According to a Motor Trend article written March 1992 on page 26, the name of Subaru's new compact was, initially, to be called the Loyale, displaying an official photograph of the 4-door sedan. In late 1995, a two-door coupe was introduced. The Impreza, like many Subaru-built cars, was equipped with a flat engine, a distinguishing Subaru characteristic. Initial engine choices included 1.6, 1.8 and 2.0-litre naturally-aspirated engines as well as the turbocharged and intercooled 2.0-litre engine. The basic turbocharged motor, the EJ20, produced from 180kW (245PS; 241bhp) to 210kW (286PS; 282bhp) in Japanese market WRX trim depending on model and year. Outside Japan, the turbocharged model was initially rated at 211PS (155kW; 208bhp) and marketed as the 2.0 Turbo, 2.0 GT, 2.0 GT Turbo, 2.0 WRX, or Turbo 2000 AWD in the United Kingdom.