The 2012 Impreza has gone back to its econobox roots. Although it still comes standard with all-wheel drive, it sports a smaller, less powerful 2,0-litre engine (110 kW and 196 N.m) than last year’s model and has a new give-me-a-minute-to-think-about-it exterior. Efficiency, however, is vastly improved. The car is 75 kg lighter, and this, plus the new engine, boosts fuel economy a whopping 30 per cent with a five-speed manual. The CVT option works fine in normal use, but it’s not a good complement to the car’s sporty handling: the transmission feels slow to alter the ratios.
The roomy interior has been upgraded with the addition of soft-touch materials, tilting headrests, and a separate info display above the centre stack in all models, but the base model’s centre stack and dash feel and look dated. Still, when it comes to all-weather performance and versatility – especially for the five-door hatchback – the Impreza is a solid entry. – James Tate
Wallpapers: Visit New on the Block (February 2012 issue of PM) to download wallpapers of selected cars.