Subaru Impreza 2.0i

SE Lineartronic

Subaru Impreza, front
Subaru Impreza, rear
Subaru Impreza, profile
Subaru Impreza, front, close-up
Subaru Impreza, interior, rear
Subaru Impreza, dashboard
Subaru Impreza, boot
Subaru Impreza, interior

THE Impreza is probably Subaru's most iconic name - harking back to the Japanese brand's illustrious rallying heyday.

It is more than ten years now, though, since the Impreza and the WRX STI went their separate ways, with the latter becoming the performance saloon which carried forward that motorsport heritage.

The Impreza badge now lives on in the shape of a more reserved, family focused compact car - but one that fills a very particular niche.

Subaru bosses, you see, take the view that, while many motorists are currently abandoning hatchbacks for motors which look like but aren't 4x4s, there are some out there who want a hatchback that actually is a 4x4.

To that end, the Impreza comes equipped with the marque's proven Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive system, which constantly sends power to all four wheels whether on a rainy motorway, an icy lane in winter or off-road in a muddy field.

Power comes from a choice of Subaru's trademark Boxer engines, normally aspirated 1.6 or 2.0-litre petrol units in this case, with the current trend for downsized turbocharged units being steadfastly resisted.

The 2.0-litre we drove offers plenty of pace, 0-62mph in less than ten seconds and a top speed of 127mph, so it is a shame that it's slightly hamstrung by the Lineartronic continuously variable transmission that is favoured by Subaru.

This proves hesitant under sharp acceleration and requires you to pile on so many revs to make rapid progress that the noise quickly reaches intrusive levels.

It is, however, smooth and refined when building speed slowly and negotiating urban traffic, while the noise also settles down on the open road once the Impreza is settled into a steady cruise.

The 2.0-litre version also offers the option of some manual intervention via shift paddles on the steering wheel, which the smaller engine doesn't get, to counter some of the din when you do need to put your foot down.

The lack of real punch is a little frustrating, though, because the Impreza, with the low centre of gravity created by the Boxer engine configuration, is otherwise impressive dynamically.

The well-weighted steering is direct and responsive while a stiff chassis set-up all but eradicates body roll and the huge levels of grip offered by the all-wheel drive system mean handling is nimble and agile. The ride, although firm, remains settled and comfortable.

Just one trim level, SE, is available but it does come well equipped with such niceties as keyless entry and ignition, eight-inch touchscreen infotainment system, digital radio, reversing camera, dual-zone air conditioning, heated front seats, cruise control and rear privacy glass.

Navigation is an omission but the inclusion of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto means that you can connect your smartphone to get on-screen directions.

There is also a very comprehensive list of safety kit on board including Subaru's innovative Eyesight system, which uses cameras rather than radar to recognise other vehicles, motorbikes, bicycles, pedestrians, and lane markings in the road ahead.

Automatic emergency braking, lane departure warning and lane keep assist are all incorporated into this system while other aids include blind spot monitoring and rear cross traffic alerts.

With ample cabin space for four adults to get comfortable and plenty of storage cubbies for all of their bits and bobs as well as a 385-litre boot, the Impreza also boasts good family practicality.

FAST FACTS

Subaru Impreza 2.0i SE Lineartronic

Price: £25,025

Mechanical:156ps, 1,995cc, 4cyl petrol engine driving four wheels via automatic gearbox

Max Speed: 127mph

0-62mph: 9.8 seconds

Combined MPG:42.8

Insurance Group:18

C02 emissions: 152g/km

Bik rating: 34%

Warranty:5yrs/100,000 miles

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