No, not entirely true. SOA went after a certain segment of the population. That segment happened to smoke grass, wear hemp shirts and birkenstocks, and grow their hair long on all parts of the body. When the Legacy, and later Impreza, came out, they were all of a sudden marketing towards an entirely different population. They were now trying to compete with Honda and Toyota, instead of competing with used Volvos and Saabs. SOA didn't think the American public would believe that a car could be fast and reliable and everything the WRX was, if it was made by that company that sells cars to hippies.
"What do you drive?"
You know... they didn't think the American public was ready for it, or would accept it.
So SOA has been transforming their image for a long time. Subaru is still popular with the Cheech and Chong types, but it's also become cool for businessmen and women to buy them for the "outdoorsy" attitude. They've been working on it.
So 4 years ago they did a market test and called it an RS. They sold well, so with the redesign, we now have the WRX. I think it was too much work for Subaru to get the WRX to pass emissions/safety tests for the US market, knowing that a complete redesign was coming soon anyway.