2002: Subaru Impreza WRX
“There are those who whine that we still are not getting the most potent WRX. Well, we didn’t listen to that kind of whining in 1995, when we named the BMW M3 the Automobile of the Year despite the existence of a more powerful European model, and we paid no heed to it this year.
“With its potent turbo engine, all-wheel-drive chassis, and rally-car feel the WRX provides a uniquely engaging driving experience, even in the firmament of performance cars. The concept has been years in the making, but it’s new to American drivers, and they’ll find it an absolute blast. With its utter livability and affordability, it democratizes high-performance cars for a whole new class of drivers. It’s this year’s breakthrough car.
“Small cars aren’t supposed to be truly fast, but the WRX is a rocket. Performance cars aren’t supposed to be practical, but the WRX has plenty of room for two adults, two kids, and their gear. Supercars aren’t supposed to be accessible, but the WRX is affordable and easy to drive. America’s hottest performance car isn’t supposed to come from Subaru, but guess what? It does.”