An impressive Impreza

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THE popular all wheel drive Subaru Impreza has made a welcome return to the UK and the Scooby hatchback has what is arguably the smoothest automatic transmission in the sector making it such a user friendly car writes Bryan Longworth.

Impreza was withdrawn from the UK market because of problems with the exchange rate and now this has improved the Subaru is back offering motorists who like something different with a tempting alternative to the likes of the Ford Focus, Vauxhall Astra and vw Golf.

The Impreza has returned with just one engine a 1.6-litre petrol unit that is available with either a manual or an automatic transmission which is a six speed CVT continiously variable system that Subaru describe as Lineartronic.

My test car was the Impreza 1.6i RC Lineartronic priced at £18,995 on the road with the latest auto gears that had a top speed of 111mph and a zero to 62mph time of 12.6 seconds with a combined fuel consumption of 46.3 mpg - the on board trip computer was showing an average of around 42mpg after a long run which is very good.

The latest Impreza has rather conservative styling and will appeal especially to owners and potential owners wanting a roomy hatchback without being too flashy but with the benefits of four wheel drive making it an ideal car for winter motoring especially for those living in rural areas.

None of the rivals mentioned above has 4x4 as standard so this is a big plus for the Impreza which is also well equipped with heated front seats and a very informative and easy to see information system that includes a small rear view camera.

I particularly liked the steering system which had the balance normally associated with more up market cars but for me one of the best features about the test car was the automatic transmission which was so smooth it provided seamless and imperceptible changes that helped to make for really enjoyable driving.

Lineartronic can also be used manually but I found the automatic mode made for very relaxed motoring and I used this all the time as I am sure will any owner or potential owner who prefers automatic transmission to manual.

Impreza has a roomy and comfortable interior with sensible switchgear and instruments although like a lot of cars I test the speedometer could be difficult to see at times which is a frequent moan of mine and if only more cars had large digital speedos which are so much easier to see at all times.

The flat four cylinder petrol engine with that distinctive Boxer sound offered a smooth and quiet power delivery with reasonable acceleration and in my opinion is ideal for this car although I am sure there will be those who would like the availability of a diesel engine.

The load area which is accessed by an easy to open and close hatchback is very roomy but there is no spare wheel underneath where a tyre repair kit is offered if there is a puncture.

As mentioned earlier the latest Impreza is for those motorists wanting something different and is unique because it is the only car in its class with four wheel drive as standard and for me that very smooth automatic transmission makes it an excellent hatchback.

Fact File

Model: Subaru Impreza 1.6i RC Lineartronic.

Engine: 1.6-litre Boxer petrol.

Output: 114PS @5600 rpm.

Top speed: 111mph.

Acceleration: 0 to 62mph 12.6 seconds.

Fuel consumption: 46.3mpg.

CO2 emissions: 140g/km.

Price: £18,995.