The WRX is pleasantly fast but no more. It’s 0-62mph time of 5.2sec speaks as much of its all-wheel drive traction as its outright pace and even then it’s a barely half a second quicker than the time we recorded for the original 2-litre, 208bhp Impreza Turbo over 18 years ago.
It’s hard to see where all the progress has gone.
But the engine itself remains a delightful device possessing a distinctive and characterful flat four voice at low revs and a delightfully smooth and purposeful song as the 6000rpm red-line nears.
It’s more responsive off boost than its compression ratio might suggest and its arrival is still clearly signalled: there’s a slight whoosh at around 2500rpm, building quickly to the 4000rpm torque peak and maintain urgency from there to peak power.
It’s a shame it’s not mated to a more cooperative gearbox. We have no issues with the six speeder’s close, short ratios – they are where they should be in a car like this – but we’d have far preferred a less notchy action which can actually become a touch obstructive if you try to hurry it.