- We like...It's super-quick, and a bargain
- We don't...Looks dull, costs a packet to run
Quick all-wheel-drive Impreza now costs less. But can a £20,000 car ever be a bargain?Should the words ‘bargain’ and ‘£20,000 car’ ever belong in the same sentence? Rarely: but here they do, because this Impreza is among the quickest, most exhilarating cars at any price. Yet it costs no more than a humdrum family saloon.
It’s a full £5000 cheaper than Imprezas of yore, while packing all the gizmos and safety bits you’d expect on a 2008 model. We’ll say it again: bargain.
Then again, like most bargains, you needn’t look hard to discover why it’s so cheap. To start with, there’s the way it looks. Previous Imprezas were never pretty but they had, at least, a butt-ugly menace. All be-scooped and bespoilered, they looked ornery even when stock-still. This one looks meek, nerdy even. It’s anonymous, not remotely pretty and only its bonnet scoop hints at what it’s really about. Inside, it’s all dark plastics that feel hard and appear cheap, though its red-lit instruments look the biz. The front seats aren’t the Recaros you’d want but, with their all-in head rests, they have just enough rally-car chic. Elsewhere, though, the cabin is sober and functional. There’s air conditioning, an adequate stereo and the full tick-sheet of safety devices – anti-lock brakes, ESP, six airbags – but none of the auto-on lights or wipers you’ll find gracing other makes.
There’s no need: you buy this car for its speed, its responses, its grip and its sheer power. Everything is there to do a job, and no more. As in older Imprezas, the motor has four cylinders, arranged flat and in pairs. Because they ‘punch’ towards each other, it’s known as a ‘Boxer’ engine. Where past models had noisy if great-sounding engines, this one is mute until you push on, when it growls a little and its turbo whistles.
It revs freely, and all-wheel drive means it steps away from rest with an almighty shove if you want it. All without drama, fuss or the merest squack from the tyres. But, despite its 227bhp, it can be docile whenever you need, its light steering and surprisingly supple ride making it no faff to trickle through traffic. It’s also got room inside for five, and there’s a sensibly sized luggage area.
Past Imprezas were legendary for the way ownership costs emptied owners’ bank balances. While this one is lighter and more fuel-efficient, that’s not saying much. Overall, you’ll do well to travel further than 27 miles for every gallon of four-star, while its 246 g/km CO2 figure makes the tax position nasty if you’re running it as a company car, and soon will cost £25 per day to drive into central London. If that’s not bad enough, your insurance will cost well into four figures a year unless you’ve a spick-span driving record and some grey hair. If you’re under 25, forget it.
But if you like quick cars, The Impreza could easily put you under its the spell. And, once that happens, the way it looks and whatever it costs to run won’t matter. At all.
- Engines2.5 flat four
- 0-60 mph6.1sec
- Insurance groups
Motors.co.uk value verdict: