On the face of it, the Impreza is a bargain. For not much more than half the price of one of the rally-bred, high-performance Imprezas, you get a practical, economical estate with the benefit of four-wheel drive. What’s not to like?
If you plan to tow anything heavy behind the Subaru, the answer is ‘quite a lot’. The root of the problem is a shortage of low-down pull. The 1.5-litre engine puts out a modest 105lb/ft of torque. That’s enough for surprisingly peppy performance driving solo, but just can’t get the job done with a caravan behind, struggling to reach 60mph with a headwind, even in fourth gear. This lack of muscle also made for nerve-racking hill starts, although selecting low-ratio gears made for a big improvement.
It’s a shame that the engine is so weak, as the Impreza performed impressively through the lane-change manoeuvre, but that can’t make up for such poor straight-line performance.