I was very interested to see how Subaru was going to make the transition with its latest Impreza from the sport and rally image to a serious player in the biggest car segment on the Irish market.
A great place to start was to offer a diesel version because this is where the real growth is. The five-door hatchback body style is also where you need to be to appeal in this class and some unique points also helps.
Enter the Impreza Boxer diesel range. While surrendering some aggressive styling, Subaru has managed to retain distinctiveness while delivering a conforming five-door hatchback. Subaru has also included its trademark all-wheel-drive (AWD ) feature for added safety appeal. So on paper alone, this has ticked many of the key boxes.
Getting behind the wheel for a weeklong test in the 2.0 TD S had to be the next step, and the roads of the midlands and west proved a good testing ground.
The Impreza uses the proven two-litre Boxer diesel turbo engine producing an impressive 150 brake horsepower. The unique four cylinders engine is positioned horizontally rather than vertically. So what? You may be asking. Well it is important because it results in the Impreza's centre of gravity being lower than rivals and along with the AWD, this contributes to magnificent road holding and superb handling.
Of course everything comes at a price and while the cost of the Impreza diesel doesn't reflect a premium for AWD, experts claim that it can cost in the region of four to five mpg. Personally, as a major active safety feature, I think it's worth it. But if you are watching running costs closely, you need to consider this.
And there are some eco good driving habits and car care such as maintaining correct tyre pressures that will save drivers twice as much as AWD will cost you.
The six speed manual transmission facilitates smooth movement through the gears. With a 2.0 litre engine, you expect to have first-rate performance and you are not disappointed. As I've pointed out, grip and handling are first rate and combined with the 150bhp on tap, you get a really enjoyable driving experience.
Inside the Impreza, the current model is a big step up on previous models. Instantly the switchgear and layout is from the better Japanese standard. There's lots of room in the front, but the rear is a little tighter for space. And of course you have the versatility of a hatchback for any kind of shopping or household shifting, etc.
The Impreza diesel range starts at €21,495 ex-works. It is not the most economical model in this segment but it is right up there with the best in the performance and handling columns. Overall, I like the Subaru Impreza turbo diesel very much and if you are thinking about a new c-segment diesel car, it is certainly a serious option.