What is it?
It’s the new Subaru Justy, a three-cylinder supermini based on the Daihatsu Sirion (tested in 1.5-litre guise two weeks ago).
This Justy has a 1.0-litre three-cylinder motor also used in the Toyota Aygo/Citroën C1/Peugeot 107 triplets, as well as the Sirion. The platform underneath it originally came from the previous-generation Toyota Yaris. And unlike previous Justys, it’s strictly front-drive only.
Besides all those things, though, this new Justy is all Subaru.
What’s it like?
Just look at the bonnet if you want a measure of how worried this car is about its identity. It has two badges – one to tell you it’s a Subaru and an odd ‘J’ badge, presumably to let you know it’s also a Justy.
Inside there’s loads of space and plenty of ingenious and practical cubby holes. You also get most of the kit you would want or need, but nothing frivolous. So you get air-con, electric windows all round, a CD player and even an auxiliary input socket for your MP3 player.
Unfortunately the quality of materials used in the cabin isn’t as well judged, and the overall design feels a bit staid.
On the road, the first thing you’ll notice is the supple ride – thank long-travel suspension and squidgy 65-profile tyres for that. The second thing you notice, however, is the buzzy engine. It’s game, but it’s always vocal and the note bounces around the boxy cabin, giving off an unpleasant resonance. You get a nasty buzz through the gearshift too.
But these are the two extremes of the Justy’s dynamic repertoire. For the most part it’s a competent - if entirely forgettable - supermini.
Should I buy one?
The real killer blow to the Justy’s credibility is its price. For four quid more, you can have a Mazda 2, our current favourite supermini.
Having said that, the Justy does get a five-year warranty, and Subaru only plans to import 1000 into the UK this year, so it’ll be rare and residual values should be strong.
So it’s not bad, the new Justy. It’s just not quite a good enough supermini to stand out in a very competitive segment, nor is it a good enough Subaru to bring anything new and interesting to the market for small hatches. More’s the pity.