AFTER building a reputation in rallying, the Subaru Impreza WRX STi now wants to win sales with refinement and sophistication.
The latest WRX STi is a step change from the competition cars which are still the vehicles of choice for hundreds of amateur rally teams and the latest model is squarely aimed at the driver who might otherwise or previously have considered a rapid road car built in Germany.
The Subaru Impreza WRX STi range is very simple. There are saloon and hatchback models, with a 2.5-litre four-cylinder engine and one trim level costing £32,995.
You can immediately tell this has been created by driving enthusiasts the moment you get behind the sporting, meaty steering wheel, slip into the securely and comfortably shaped seats and let your hands, feet and eyes explore the cabin.
It is all there. Everything comes to hand, foot and eye without distraction or wasted effort. You simply fire up, move off and enjoy the experience.
A very refined powertrain delivers instant response, smooth and strong performance and the steering and brakes impart immense feel and precision with minimal effort.
Secondary switchgear is close to hand, operates with a quality feel and there are familiar switches and buttons directly in sight backed up by a good range of warning lights.
Heating and ventilation is very simple and effective, backed up by powered windows and the oddments room is good, but not exceptional.
You can easily climb in or out of the cabin, the boot is big with up to 1,216 litres and the room inside the car is very good for taller people whether they are in the front or the back.
Not only does it have good adjustment in the front seats, although they may be a little slim for those of broader beam, but all are comfortable and hold occupants while the Impreza can be pushed hard without drama underneath thanks to its 4x4 traction.
The handling and road-holding is immensely safe and surefooted, the Impreza has a near neutral attitude and it's not put off by mid-corner bumps or bad surfaces.
It grips well through bends, is not blown about by cross-winds and is stable at speed.
Acceleration is very good and it cruises quietly with the right kind of pleasant exhaust notes to please the driver moving up the ratios.
Good visibility through the glass, excellent wipers and big lights should make it easy to place on the road.
There was no opportunity to test the fuel consumption and Subaru's own claim is reproduced here.
Subaru has had a reputation of building what some may consider quirky cars but their original four-wheel-drive small estate and WRC models stand out and are still highly regarded.