Subaru Impreza hatchback - Engines, drive & performance
The Subaru Impreza attacks corners with verve, but lacklustre engines let the side down
This Impreza's immediate predecessor was rather less inspiring to drive than some of its forebears and the latest model goes quite a long way to restoring a tarnished reputation. Subaru has reinforced the bodywork to make it up to 100% stiffer than before, while the suspension has been redesigned for a ride height that's 5mm lower.
These efforts have paid off: the car leans only a little during spirited cornering, such behaviour being encouraged by nicely weighted steering and huge reserves of grip from its four-wheel-drive system. There's good news on the CVT automatic gearbox front, too: it does a convincing job of simulating a dual-clutch transmission when you make manual gearchanges using the steering-wheel-mounted paddles.
Unfortunately, it resorts to type during fast acceleration, noisily holding onto high engine revs for longer than you'd like. It's a shame, too, that the paddles are only offered with the 2.0-litre engine.
Subaru Impreza petrol engines
It's difficult to make a case for the 112bhp 1.6-litre engine. It only costs a little less than the 2.0-litre, isn't much more economical and is considerably less powerful – and also does without those enjoyable steering-wheel-mounted gearshift paddles. Factor in very disappointing acceleration and it becomes clear that the 2.0-litre is the one to have.
With 154bhp, the 2.0-litre is still no powerhouse – a 0-62mph time of 9.8 seconds is a long way from matching front-wheel-drive rivals, and the way it delivers its limited muscle is rather less punchy than turbocharged engines do. There's enough go to confidently slot into fast-moving motorway traffic, though, and cross-country driving is still rewarding.
Thanks to its unconventional (yet traditional for Subaru) boxer layout, it's a charismatic engine, too, although it does get rather noisy when pushed to the limit.