By Nick Jones
Being a rally fan, there was one car caught my imagination when driven by the late, great Colin McRae, Subaru’s Impreza... so much so that I went out and bought one.
It made noise, lots of it as I recall, and looked superb.
It was the 90s and this was a new generation of sport-bred super-family car, the natural successors to that rally-icon of the 70s the Audi Quattro.
And the DNA of the latest iteration of the Impreza WRX is an evolution of the original.
The car I tested was the STi version, and for those who don’t know, it stands for Subaru Technica International, which is very much the tuning arm of all things Subaru.
The car looks mean, it has that now familiar scoop on the bonnet, wide track, low stance and a presence that just looks quick... and is.
Large alloy wheels sit under flared arches and house sticky rubber that hangs on to the road limpet-like.
True to rally style, the rear window is ‘blacked out’ more so than the front ones and echoes that of the rally machine I was talking about earlier.
The drive train adopts the same Symmetrical AWD all-wheel drive system Subaru has always used on its road-going rally-based cars. But the suspension and geometry have been revised to make the car more bearable for family use even though the body is steffer than that of earlier versions.
The technology allows the driver to change the bias for the power to be fed through the wheels via a switch near the gearbox, giving better straight line characteristics or improved ability through corners. I like the fact too that you can change the engine mapping on the car, again via a switch, to increase power.
Once you’ve twiddled and found out which best suits your driving, unleash the 300bhp that the turbo-charged engine develops and you can rocket past 60mph in five seconds on the way to an electronically-governed 155mph.
Whip the engine past 4,000rpm and the WRX is a rocket-ship, savage in its power and barking that savagery through the exhaust.
And you can’t help but smile, perhaps insanely, as you tame that savage beast and make it do your bidding.
While this is no supercar, it has both the pace and than handling to nip at the heels of many.
Reliability from the boxer engine is very good indeed but you do need to service it regularly and maintain all the regular checks. Emissions aren’t great, truth be told, and neither is the fuel economy at around the 26mpg. You’ll be lucky to see 300mph from a tank of unleaded gold.
For your £33,000 it’s well-equipped with Recaro seats, better interior materials, push-button start, air conditioning, ten-speaker audio system, keyless entry... the list goes on.
There’s quite a lot of room inside, more so than perhaps you might expect, and the same goes for the boot at over 300-litres with the seats in place and a massive 1,200-litres with them folded.
As always, it’s a tough call to choose between the ‘Scooby’ and its closest rival, Mitsubishi’s Evo. It all comes down to personal choice or price, and there’s not much separates them. But the Subaru probably has an edge in terms of value for money for what you get and residuals.
One thing is certain though, every time you reach your destination you will spend your time there looking forward to your journey home again.