Of course, the rally-winning pedigree of the Impreza is well-established and must be a valuable tool in the company's advertising and marketing campaigns - as is the marque's constantly excellent showing in the JD Power/Top Gear UK Customer Satisfaction Studies.
Never a high-volume seller, either in the fleet market or retail sector, the Impreza is, nonetheless, an interesting prospect for the user-chooser seeking something a bit different. All Imprezas have traditionally been characterised by the flat-four, boxer configuration of their engines with their distinctive burble and by all-wheel-drive.
The new version, which enters UK showrooms this month priced from £13,950, presents the same characterful mixture as before but wrapped in a stiffer body, with more equipment and improved refinement and performance.
Subaru's press launch blurb asserts that: 'The affordable performance car icon of the '90s has grown up - with a smoother ride, lower road noise and a quality feel to its fittings and controls. Yet Subaru has avoided the middle-aged, dull and stodgy feel which can blight evolved sports models.'
Arguably, a somewhat pretentious overture, but hard to argue with - especially in the case of the WRX flyer - in the hard light of day on the deserted roads of a rain-swept Scotland and on a test track.
Pricewise, Subaru has sought to achieve a competitive stance with its new car. The entry-level 1.6 TS costs £800 less than its nearest predecessor, the 2.0 GL 5-door, despite a claimed £1,500 of extra goodies, including ABS, radio/ single disc CD player and Thatcham Category One remote alarm/immobiliser. Incidentally, the latter, while effective from a security angle, is a quirky device to learn and its fob is bulky, although Subaru says this is being addressed.
The prices of the mid-range 2.0 GX are set at just £250 above those of previous equivalents, although it boasts a claimed £1,700 of extra equipment, while the performance-oriented WRX is about £500 more than the old Turbo 2000 but has an estimated £2,000 of extra standard equipment such as air-conditioning and radio/cassette CD player.
A stiffer floorpan contributes to much greater torsional rigidity - 250% more in the case of the saloon and 239% with the five-door sports wagon. There are suspension tweaks, such as the raising of the rear roll centre to a level almost the same as that of the WRC rally car, and all versions have revised suspension geometry, springs, shock absorbers and anti-roll bar settings. WRX versions get larger, 7x17in alloys with 215/45ZR tyres.
Power output for the WRX engine remains as before, but torque has been marginally increased, peaking at lower revs, providing better all-round flexibility. This unit provides the Impreza with stunning overtaking performance and its solid punch combined with the surefooted qualities of the transmission make the WRX a satisfying and safe performance package. The ride is firm, but not uncomfortably so, the cornering grippy and the handling crisp.
The naturally-aspirated 2.0-litre has also received modifications, primarily to improve cleanliness, although power and torque are the same as its predecessor. It gets a second catalytic converter and revised electronic fuel injection system.
The newly-introduced 1.6 delivers less than half the power of the WRX unit, so it is hardly surprising that the end result is a car of totally different character while wearing much the same shell.
Where the all-wheel-drive technology provides the two more powerful variants with the bonus of better traction, the benefit the smaller-engined car gets from the feature are slightly offset by the extra weight and endemic mechanical power losses of such a system.
As with all Subarus, there is a three-year/60,000-mile warranty, plus one-year paintwork and six-year anti-corrosion cover. There is also three years' membership of Subaru Assistance, administered by Mondial Assistance.