Subaru WRX: The Differences Between Hawkeye, Bugeye, And Blobeye

The Subaru WRX is a peculiar and mean-looking muscle car. Originally cut out for rally racing and carrying the Impreza, the Subaru WRX sets the bar high with its all-wheel drive capabilities and turbocharged engine that make it a perfect ride for adrenaline-seekers. It was essentially one of the first consumer cars used for racing without much modification, which led to Subaru WRX's success.

Japanese car brand Subaru has only been making all-wheel drive vehicles for almost 70 years but only entered the small car market in the 1990s. Despite its relatively short stint, the brand has been very trendy, even outside Japan.

Although the WRX (short for world rally experimental) was initially sold as a variant of the Impreza, the company spun it off as a separate model in 2014. The WRX is still based on the Impreza but now has distinct design elements and performance optimizations. Fans, particularly in the U.S., are often likely to come across references that liken the WRX's headlamps to animal eyes — such as Bugeye, Blobeye, and Hawkeye. If you are interested in knowing the differences between these models, stick around as we take you through the winding and slippery tracks that helped Subaru establish the dominance it enjoys today.

Subaru Impreza WRX Bugeye

The Subaru Impreza WRX arrived in the U.S. nearly 20 years ago with a 227 horsepower engine, a suspension tuned for rally sports, and an all-wheel drive option. The first model available in the U.S. was "Bugeye," which was produced between 2000 and 2003 and based on the second-gen Subaru Impreza. As evident, the Subaru WRX Bugeye derives its name from the oval headlamps.

It is powered by a 2.0-liter turbocharged engine with an output of 218 horsepower. It was available in both sedan and wagon body styles and came with two options for the gearbox — a five-speed manual and a four-speed automatic. However, it is easy to imagine most enthusiasts leaned towards the manual transmission. One of the reasons for its fandom was the EJ20 engine that allowed owners to tune the performance to whatever made them tick.

The Subaru WRX Bugeye was sold in several markets worldwide, including the U.S., so American patrons wouldn't have to worry about importing it. Sports Car Digest notes the Bugeye sold nearly 40,000 units worldwide until the next favorite model — the "Blobeye" — cropped up on the market.

Subaru Impreza WRX Blobeye

Around the end of 2003, Subaru announced a new facelift that came to be known as the WRX "Blobeye," owing to its flatter headlamps. Despite getting a visual overhaul, the Blobeye was still based on the second-generation Subaru Impreza. It has slightly lower ground clearance, making it look more like a race car than the Bugeye version.

The WRX Blobeye also featured upgrades to the exteriors, including distinctively shaped bumpers and front grille along with refinements in the engine despite the same displacement value of 2.0-liters. Compared to the Bugeye, the Subaru WRX Blobeye offered greater power, outputting 225 horsepower and 300 newton-meter (or 221 pound-feet) of torque.

Apart from better looks, the WRX Blobeye also gets better off-road driveability with traction control and options to change the power delivery for maximum grip, as per Hot Cars. Better driveability, improved performance, and minimal changes to the interiors, such as better seats, made the Blobeye slightly more desirable than the older Bugeye variant.

Subaru Impreza WRX Hawkeye

Subaru followed up the Blobeye with a newer, sharper vehicle — the Impreza WRX Hawkeye — in 2006. The car received a completely revamped front and rear facade along with meaner-looking headlamps, leading to its fiercer identity.

Subaru overhauled the drivetrain with a new 2.5-liter EJ225 engine that produces 230 horsepower and 320 newton-meter (236 pound-feet) torque. The STi variant made extra power, resulting in 315 horsepower. Along with a chunkier and more powerful engine, the Hawkeye STi variant also had a more reliable transmission, improved clutch, and a center differential giving Hawkeye greater resilience to deal with challenging roads.

Despite a better engine, the WRZ Hawkeye was only made available for a year, Hot Cars notes. But the lingo latched on to the car's identity so hard that even Subaru officially calls those headlamps "hawk-eyes," as per CarBuzz.

We hope these differences will help you spot the differences between the Subaru WRX Bugeye, Blobeye, and Hawkeye the next time you see them roaring down a street.