Subaru Impreza

6 May, 2003 12:22pm Chris Thorp

Creating the perfect performance car needs a complicated recipe. The chassis is crucial because it dictates the handling, then add a potent powerplant and a dash of flamboyant styling and you are away. But what if you remove one or more of the ingredients?

Verdict

The success of the Impreza is about much more than power, and even with 124bhp, the GX still entertains. It's not as exciting or as striking as the turbo versions, but it's far better than you might think.
Creating the perfect performance car needs a complicated recipe. The chassis is crucial because it dictates the handling, then add a potent powerplant and a dash of flamboyant styling and you are away. But what if you remove one or more of the ingredients?

A huge 70 per cent of all Subaru Imprezas sold in the UK last year were the hot WRX and STi models, but can the car still hit the right notes without the whistle of a turbo?

The latest facelift sees the controversial bug-eyed front consigned to history. But in basic GX Sport trim, this five-door looks very different to the winged and spoilered turbos. Whether it's dull or less vulgar depends on your taste.

Yet the Subaru is all about driving, and thankfully the GX is far from a let-down. The first thing owners of turbo Imprezas will notice is that the rev counter is swapped with the speed-ometer, giving the latter centre stage.

Fire up the 124bhp 2.0-litre flat-four and the boxer burble is still there, while performance is surprisingly brisk. Even without the turbo, 0-60mph takes only 9.8 seconds, with a 117mph top speed. Don't expect a big improvement in economy, though, as you'll get 31.7mpg - a mere one mpg more than the WRX. The CO2 ratings fall only marginally, too, from 219g/km to 212g/km. On a twisty road, the superb all-wheel-drive chassis still shines though, attacking bends with verve and providing plenty of steering feedback.

Softer suspension makes the ride far more comfortable on long trips, but it is still firm enough to give a sporty drive. A GX five-door costs £15,450, which is a huge £5,045 cheaper than the WRX. The thrills on offer are in different leagues, but the savings in running costs and insurance for the GX are enormous. If you can't afford a turbo, this slower Subaru could be the perfect thing to drive while you're saving.

Key specs

* £15,450 GX on sale now
* 0-60mph: 9.8secs; 117mph

AEX 1,338
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