90’s Rally Icons – 22B vs TME

Seeing either of these cars alone would be enough to send any of us into a frothy-mouthed fit. But about the only time you’ll see them together is when you’re staring at your TV with a PlayStation controller in your hands. Short of being tossed the keys to McRae or Makinen’s actual rally cars, this is about as good as it gets for Evo and Impreza fans…

Chances are you’re already well aware why it’s so unusual to see these cars pounding the same stretch of road. Subaru built just 424 examples of the 22B to celebrate its 40th year in the car business, taking the already fabulous STi Type R and fortifying it with muscular blistered arches covering bigger wheels, and opening up the flat four to 2.2-litres.

And while the Evo Tommi Makinen’s spec wasn’t as radically altered from the base car as the 22B was, there were some key mods, including a faster steering rack from the Evo RS, and the legendary titanium turbo.

Plus, since the 2500 TMEs built also came in white, blue, silver and black, a red car with the optional (but must-have) stripes like this one, is actually rarer than a 22B.

 It’s been a while since I’ve driven a TME, or a plain 6 for that matter, but the memories came flooding back. Lexus engineers wouldn’t lose any sleep over the dashboard plastics but those monogrammed Tommi seats are perfectly sited and the changes from the five-speed ‘box so much sweeter than the later six. Above all that though, the handling is so playful you can’t help but drive like you’ve just torn your L-plates in half.


But what about the 22B? Having not driven one before, but heard stories about its stiff-legged, crashy ride, I was amazed how well suited it seemed to tough British A and B roads, and how much feel there was through the gorgeous thin-rimmed Nardi wheel.

But it’s hard to drive a 22B and not get fixated by that engine. Subaru might have quoted the same nominal 280hp (276bhp) for the 2.0-litre STis, but dip your toe in at low revs, feel the kick in the back and you know this is an Impreza like no other.

 

Which is best? Love for these cars, these marques, is so tribal you’ve probably already made your own mind up about that. Few cars look as cool as a TME-liveried Evo, but even Mitsubishi fans would have to admit there’s something very special about the 22B.

As there should be, given you’re now looking at around £100k to put one in your garage…

 

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Words: Chris Chilton

Photos: Jacob Ashworth

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