WHILE the new entry-level Impreza doesn’t pretend to offer the rally-car experience offered by its more powerful stablemates, it does come with a competitive price-tag to match its no-thrills approach.
Costing £12,495, the 1.5R comes as a five-door estate only and also has the firm’s legendary all-wheel drive capabilities that will probably be of biggest appeal to would-be buyers.
Terrain found in the Scottish Highlands or the Lake District offers the best environment for this type of car, when users may need the option of all-wheel drive but don’t require a larger car such as an SUV.
Subaru managing director Peter Kinnaird said: ‘This new model opens up a whole new market for us, appealing to two kinds of customer.
‘There will be those who need the reassurance that all-wheel drive can give. Others may have always wanted to enjoy the roadholding and engineering provided by the Impreza but don’t need the performance of the 2.0R and WRX models.’
The manufacturer is also keen to welcome back former owners of its Justy supermini model, which ceased production in the late 1990s.
It adds that the last smaller-engined Impreza was the 1.6 TS which cost £13,950, £1,455 more than the new model, despite it lacking the equipment level of the 1.5R.
Power for the 1.5R comes from a new 105bhp ‘boxer’ engine, which is designed to give a lower centre of gravity for better cornering grip thanks to the cylinders lying flat and the two banks opposing each other, just like in a Porsche 911.
Unlike a Porsche 911, the 1.5R offers 105bhp, although for buyers wanting all-wheel drive the low price will appeal.
Behind the wheels
WHILE good looks are not the Impreza range’s strongest suit, the entry-level 1.5R’s on-road handling and other driving characteristics are surprisingly good.
Offering a 0-60mph time of 13.5 seconds, it could do with a few more bhp under the bonnet as it is by no means quick, but the all-wheel drive system means cornering feels secure with the car well planted to the road.
The ride is also decent, making for a comfortable companion on long distance drives.
Inside, things look dated now. The interior is an improvement on previous generation Imprezas, but it still looks and feels on the cheap side.
But for £12,495 and with plenty of kit as standard, it’s hard to argue against this new model purely from a price point of view.
Despite its lack of power, the 1.5R offers a good deal for the money. If your drivers live in the country and require four-wheel drive every now and then, this makes a sensible choice.
Model: Impreza 1.5R
Max power (bhp/rpm): 105/6,400
Max torque (lb-ft/rpm): 104/3,200
Max speed (mph): 109
0-62mph (secs): 13.5
Fuel consumption (mpg): 35.8
CO2 emissions (g/km): 184
On sale: Now
Price (OTR): £12,495