What is it?
This is the very last Impreza WRX that UK buyers will see for a while; the all new, five-door-only Impreza arrives in October, and there won’t be a UK WRX version. That’s why Subaru’s doing this high-spec, budget price, last-of-the-line special edition of the outgoing car, the GB270.
It’s a bit of a bargain. Both the saloon, and the sports wagon we tested, are priced at £22,995. For that you get the Prodrive engine tune-up (from 226- to 266bhp), the lower Prodrive suspension, 18in black painted alloy wheels, a quickshift gearchange, a waistline spoiler, tinted privacy glass, a limited slip diff and a black mesh grille. That represents a saving of £7000 against the catalogue price.
What’s it like?
The WRX remains a fast, grippy, agile and stirring car to drive. Even now, a decade after the Impreza Turbo first screamed into the collective imagination, there are few cars that offer so much any-weather performance for the money.
At certain times, in certain conditions, and on certain roads where a two-wheel drive hot hatch would scrabble for purchase, a WRX just grips and flies. There are other fast four-wheel-drivers you can buy for around the same money - cars like the VW Golf R32, Mazda 6 MPS and Volvo S40 T5 - but they tend to feel much heavier and less responsive than the Scooby, and they generally cost more. In short, the WRX remains the most capable and entertaining any-weather performance car available for around £20,000. That’s why it’s such a shame we’re not getting a new one.
Just opening the door on the new GB270 helps you to understand what it’s all about; it’s frameless, the handle’s just about large enough to accommodate your fingers, and the whole door weighs about half as much as the door on a Golf R32.
Settle in behind the wheel; you’ll find a cabin that looks and feels old, thin and cheap in places. Cloth seats that would have looked poorly upholstered in an MG Maestro Turbo, that provide about as much thigh support as a limp pair of boxer shorts, and that make the driver adopt one of the poorest driving positions you’ll find in any new hot hatch. A cassette player as standard (need we say more?). But none of it really matters.