There was a time when the smart money thought the Subaru Impreza was in the vanguard of a new breed of affordable performance cars that would in time take over the world.

The hot hatch had had its day, and now it was time for the Playstation generation to have its say. Technology had never been more affordable: when the Impreza Turbo was introduced it cost just £17,999 despite its forced induction and all-wheel drive hardwear, which was almost £20,000 less than the Porsche 968.

But you could fit all your family in the Impreza, their luggage in the boot and still dust the Porker away from the lights.

But all that was a very long time ago – 1994 to be precise - and while Subaru have thrown at least 15 different variations on the original theme at the market since then and despite the collusion of Mitsubishi and its largely epic Evolution models, the invasion never came. To this day the Impreza, renamed the WRX STi since 2010 is what it always was: a niche player. Question is, is it still any good?

The WRX STI is available for £28k. If more power is required, the STi can be turned into the 335bhp 340R model for just £1699. 

Top 5 Hot hatches

  • The Trophy-R is a track-focused 271bhp front-drive hot hatchback

    Renault Mégane RS 275 Trophy-R

  • Honda's new Civic Type R is powered by a 306bhp 2.0-litre turbocharged four cylinder engine

    Honda Civic Type R

  • This four-cylinder Focus feels lighter at the front than its five-pot predecessor

    Ford Focus ST

  • Seat Leon Cupra
    The new Leon Cupra is offered with a choice of 261bhp or 276bhp 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engines

    Seat Leon Cupra

  • Volkswagen Golf GTI Mk7
    This is the seventh-generation Volkswagen Golf GTI

    Volkswagen Golf GTI Mk7


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