Subaru introduced the so-called "New Age" Impreza to the world market in 2001. The second generation Impreza was intended to be larger, safer, stiffer, more refined, and more responsive. For many enthusiasts, the changes in the new car made it less desirable because it was heavier and slower with less of a raw edge to it. The WRX Sedan had a 20 mm wider track than its predecessor to aid handling, while the wagon remained the same. The coupe model was no longer available. The ovoid headlamp "bug-eyed" styling of the New Age Impreza was polarizing, but the improvements to the car brought greater mainstream acceptance.
In the United States, release of the basic 227 hp 2.0 L turbocharged Impreza, the WRX, did not occur until the 2002 model year, and the Impreza WRX STi was delayed until the 2004 model year. The US version of the STi includes various departures from the Japanese and European counterparts, such as a turbocharged 2.5 L EJ25 engine (not to be confused with the naturally-aspirated engine used in the 2.5RS which is also called EJ25), rather than the twin-scroll turbo 2.0 L engine sold elsewhere. All 2006 American Imprezas use some form of the 2.5 L EJ25 engine since naturally aspirated and turbo charged are available.
Some customers' and the press' negative reaction to the New Age Impreza's styling forced Subaru to facelift the car by 2003, with more conventional, squarer headlamps, nicknamed 'blob eyes'. All 2006 Imprezas, including the performance models, have been redesigned again with the controversial "jet intake and wings" grille first debuted on the Subaru B9 Tribeca crossover SUV, along with new headlights ("hawk eyes"), taillights, and bumpers. Opinion on this style is split, but is generally regarded as better applied on the Impreza than the Tribeca. For MY08, it has been announced that Subaru will be dropping the grille from the upcoming Impreza redesign.
The most basic Impreza in Japan is 1.5 i with 1.5 liter EJ15 SOHC engine. The 1.5 R comes with the 1.5L DOHC engine with AVCS, but is only available with automatic transmission, whereas the 1.5i model is available with either automatic or manual transmission. For both models, AWD and 2WD versions are available. Option packages for either the 1.5i or 1.5R include wheel type, size, bucket seats, and white LED illuminated gauge meters.
For export market, the all-wheel drive 1.6 TS is offered in Singapore and other Asian countries. The 1.5 sedan is normal body similar to the Sports Wagon. The TS shares wide body with WRX and WRX STI.
Subaru seem to be trying to get away from the 'boy racer' image of the Impreza and to pursue a more mainstream, more conservative market - hence the introduction of the 1.5R to Europe in 2007, and the more discrete Spec D variant of the WRX STi. In contrast to its great rival the Mitsubishi Lancer Evo, the Impreza is increasingly being positioned as a 'practical' performance car - the suspension for instance is more accommodating of everyday roads than the more track-oriented Evo.
Models offered in Australia in 2005 included the GX (2.0 L engine, this model has become the baseline Impreza in Australia), RV (2.0 L engine, styled for active lifestyles), RS (2.5 L engine, sport model) along with the WRX and STi version thereof. The RX model has been abandoned in Australia, and its position in the Impreza line-up has been subsumed by the GX (which had formerly been a sparsely outfitted budget model).
In late 2005 a new range was released; including the entry-level 2.0i (formerly GX), RV, 2.0R (formerly RS), WRX and WRX STi models. The 2.0R changed from a 2.5 L engine to a slightly more powerful 2.0 L engine; while the turbocharged WRX changed from a 2.0 L engine to a 2.5 L engine. The automatic transmission was dropped from the WRX despite the popularity of the sports shift automatic in other Subarus such as the Outback. In 2006 the automatic transmission was added to the Limited package which includes heated leather seats, heated mirrors, heated wiper blades, and a moonroof. Side airbags were added as standard across the range. Subaru Impreza WRX has been bought by French Gendarmerie for its Motorway patrols. At the New York Auto Show, Subaru introduced a new WRX.