SCOOBY DERV: Subaru’s Impreza has been infamous for its fire-breathing rally-bred versions. Now the Impreza has gone all sensible with a diesel version in the range. Ian Robertson puts the new car to the test
Subaru was late to the diesel party, but when it arrived, it managed to out-dance the opposition, with a characterful boxer diesel engine – something that is unique on the marketplace. It has taken a while to arrive in the mainstream Impreza hatch, but has it been worth waiting for?
Moving off from rest and immediately you can feel that there’s more to the Impreza than meets the eye. The flat-four engine note, and the fantastic levels of grip, thanks to the four-wheel-drive system all add up to more than the sum of the parts. The engine feels like a petrol engine in the way that it operates, it revs cleanly to the limiter and is very linear in the way that it delivers the power. It feels nimble and pacey and is exactly the type of engine that the Impreza has been waiting for. It handles like it’s on rails, with superfluous levels of grip, and communicative, well weighted steering. The suspension is pretty pliant too, with only the biggest of bumps unsettling it.
Compared to the driving experience, the interior is a bit of a let down. While it is attractively styled, the whole dashboard moulding is made from cheap feeling, hard plastics with not a soft-touch surface in sight. Still, it looks durable enough and Subaru’s are normally built to last – only time will tell whether the same can be said for this car. It’s easy to get a comfortable driving position and the seats are supportive. Legroom both front and rear is generous, and headroom in the back will be sufficient for all but the tallest of passengers. There’s only room for two in the back, however, due to the sizeable transmission tunnel. The boot isn’t particularly generous either, with just 301 litres of space, although folding the seats down liberates extra carrying capacity with 1,216 litres available. The loadbay cover is quite funky, with an SUV style sliding cover, rather than a conventional parcel shelf that is the norm.
Petrol models in the Impreza range are priced keenly, and undercut similarly specified rivals, but not so with the diesel. At £20,000 for the entry level model, you get standard four-wheel-drive, the legendary Subaru Impreza name, as well as xenon headlights, 17-inch alloy wheels, climate control, electric and heated power folding door mirrors, cruise control, heated front seats and a thatcham category one alarm system. In addition, you get the infamous bonnet scoop that every Impreza worth its salt has to have.
RIVALS: BMW 118d SPORT, FORD FOCUS ZETEC S 2.0 TDCi, MAZDA3 2.2 SPORT DIESEL, SEAT LEON SPORT 2.0 TDI
- Engine: 1998cc, 4-cylinder, turbodiesel
- Gearbox: 6-speed manual
- Max power: 148bhp at 3,600rpm
- Max torque: 258lb ft at 1,800 to 2,400rpm
- Max towing weight: 1,600kg
- Max speed: 127mph
- 0-62mph: 9.0secs
- Combined consumption: 47.9mpg
- CO2 emissions (taxband): 155g/km (G)
- Bootspace: 301/1,216litres
- Insurance group: 24
Fantastic to drive, grippy, well mannered, decent looks, equipment levels reasonable
On the expensive side, interior feels cheap, meagre boot space with the seats up