- We like...Engine, four-wheel drive
- We don't...Cheap-looking dash plastics
With its four-wheel drive and oddball engine, this Impreza is one of a kind. But how talented is it in real-world use?As diesels go, this one comes late to the game. Though the Impreza’s been with us since the early 1990s there’s not been a diesel before. It’s sorely missed because petrol-propelled Imprezas, even modest ones, are thirsty and pump out too much CO2.
And the good news is that this one’s a corker. Like its range-mates it has four-wheel drive, which means it has terrific take-off from standstill and the confidence that comes from extra traction for whenever the going gets slidey. And if you’re a fan of the Impreza’s characterful engine gurgle and low-speed transmission whine, both are preserved here. This engine’s one of a kind because of its layout. Where the cylinders in most pump up-down, these move sideways in opposed pairs. It's what's known as a 'boxer'.
Teamed with a turbo as here, it gives the car an easy response and a revviness that is unusual. What this means is that the 2.0-litre feels livelier than its billed 148bhp. And Subaru’s fettlers have picked the ratios for the six forward gears to deliver go in the first four and cruise quietly and economically by using the top two. It’ll also sip at fuel – we managed 55mpg on a lengthy M1 motorway dash.
If you’ve a mind, it’ll pull hard from a standstill, helped by its four-wheel traction. But for most of the time you’ll not notice its all-drive. It minds its own store, sending grip wherever it’s most needed. And, whenever you need it to be, this Impreza’s a docile, easy drive, as happy to tootle as it is to go hard.
String it quickly through a series of curves and it’s obedient and undramatic, flat across the corners and nimble though its steering is, there’s not the dead-on precision you’ll see from a performance car. But neither is it nervous or tricky. Same’s true of the ride: it’s not sporty-firm nor cushy-soft. It smoothes the bumps enough to stay comfortable but it’s in no way pillowy.
While the car’s well kitted out for the money (there is also a high-spec version, the RX, that has leather seats and keyless entry) it is no way luxurious – the fit and finish of the cabin lags behind that of the VW Golf you might otherwise buy and indeed some others, too.
Still, it’s comfortable and tough, while there’s room for three, just, across the back seat and the boot is sensibly sized and has a roller cover to hide your luggage. But where it matters, it’s just great: those high backed seats are firm but good for long journeys (though they’ll pinch at your hips if you’re fat) and the view over that turbo air scoop and along the bonnet is one of the headiest in motoring.
Should you buy one? If you hanker for the blat-and-snarl of 1990s Imprezas, this won’t do. But if you want a quick, quirky alternative to the VW Golf or A3 diesel you might otherwise buy and you like the added security that all-wheel-drive promises, this will do fine. If you want character, it’s got more than most.
To read motors.co.uk's exclusive review of the Impreza WRX, click here
To view and buy new and second-hand Imprezas on motors.co.uk, click here
- Engines2.0 boxer turbodiesel
- 0-60 mph9.0secs
- Insurance groups11E
Motors.co.uk value verdict: