Subaru Impreza Makes UK Return

What's this?

A question I suspect will be asked many times over the next few months, followed by the answer "I think it's a Hyundai". In reality, this is the new Subaru Impreza that the UK wasn't supposed to be getting.

So what's new?

Compared to the old Impreza, nearly everything, but we've actually already seen the bulk of this car in the UK already. This generation Impreza, introduced elsewhere in the world in 2012, underpins the company's XV crossover. In fact the Impreza retains the engine, gearboxes and 4WD system as used in the XV, alongside broadly looking like one - if a little less "ruggedised".

There's only one trim level and standard specification is good. This "RC" spec includes automatic headlights and wipers, front fog lights, power-folding heated door mirrors with LED turn signals, windscreen wiper de-icer system, 16-inch alloy wheels, tyre repair kit and daytime running lights. On the inside you get dual-zone air-conditioning, rear passenger heating and ventilation ducts, six-way manually-adjustable drivers seat, heated front seats, leather-wrapped steering wheel and gear knob, two 12V power outlets (to keep the kids' games consoles charged), USB and aux-in jacks, and a reversing camera.

What powers it?

There's only one engine available at the car's May launch and, while it's a traditional Subaru Boxer engine (with two banks of pistons pointing in opposite directions), it's not a big one, nor even a turbocharged one. A 1.6 litres, this unit produces 112hp and 111lbf-ft and in the 1,350kg body this is good for a 12.5s sprint to 60mph and a top speed a little over 110mph. This Impreza then is not a rival for the modern, upstart hot hatches that took the place of the old one.

The combined fuel economy of 44.1mpg is equivalent to 147g/km CO2 and puts it in VED Band F for a 140 annual ticket - if you specify the Lineartronic CVT version you'll see 46.3mpg which, at 140g/km CO2, drops it into Band E at 125 a year.

Anything else?

If you happen to be a fan of hot Imprezas, Subaru is coincidentally bringing the sedan-bodied WRX STI to our shores with the same May 1st launch date. The spec list here makes for much more familiar reading. A 2.5-litre turbo Boxer engine with 296hp and 300lbf-ft will shovel you along in the usual fashion and traditional features like blue mica paint and a pantograph on the boot will be music to the Impreza fan's ears.

How much will it cost me?

The hatchback starts at 17,495 for the regular five speed manual, with the Lineartronic CVT adding 1,500 to the bill before any other options - but if it's the madcap WRX STI that takes your fancy, it's 28,995. Both are available from May 1st.

Any alternatives?

This is not a small list. Even if you just stick with the usual suspects you're looking at the Ford Focus, Vauxhall Astra, Volkswagen Golf, Honda Civic, Peugeot 308, Mazda 3, Renault Megane and so on and so forth. With the 18,000 budget required, any one of these cars makes a significant case for itself - and that's without touching the value-for-money Korean brands or more prestige options like the Audi A3 at the same price points.

In a line...

WRX STI: Welcome back!
Hatchback: Costs more money than it makes sense.

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