Originally Posted by Siper2
That may also be an issue of cost. The wheels were already in circulation overseas, so why produce something new?
But when they wanted to release the new-age car in the US, I'm sure that a 16" version of the wheel they decided to use in Europe (remember it was the same wheel, just 17" instead) was the economical choice. And it likely just happened to translate to a 6.5" width.
One of those unfortunate coincidences, I think. I don't personally believe Subaru "removed" 0.5" to spite anyone.
Those two wheels are pretty different. They just look similar because they're both split 5 spoke. There were a lot of wheels available to use on the WRX at the time if cost was the issue. At anyrate, it's all speculation.