Subaru WRX

The Essentials

  • Price from £32,995
  • What Car? says: 3 star rating
  • Fuel economy: up to 269.0mpg
  • What is it? The high-performance version of what used to be called the Impreza, this small saloon delivers raw, rally-car thrills.

Great

  • So exciting to drive you'll wish you lived on a race track
  • Plenty of safety features and luxury kit
  • Saloon styling isn't quite as practical as the hatchback's

Gripes

  • Painfully expensive to buy and run, particularly if you plan to enjoy driving it
  • Interior quality isn't what we'd expect at this price
  • Boot is small and awkwardly shaped
  • Drive

    This is one way to get your thrills on the school run

  • Inside

    The controls are easy to find and use but it does feel a bit intimate up front

  • Safety

    Decent equipment for accident prevention and protection

  • Reliability

    Subaru has a solid reliability record

  • Space

    Not bad for four adults inside; boot space is ok but awkwardly shaped

  • Standard and extras

    Plenty of goodies as standard, including a satellite-tracking system

  • What's it like to drive?

    The one petrol engine puts out a mighty 296bhp, so you can do the 0-60mph dash in just 5.2 seconds, should you wish. Brilliant for overtaking manoeuvres, as long as you're prepared to feel like a human catapult. The low ride height, standard four-wheel drive and fat tyres make for stunning handling and impressively the ride doesn't suffer too much. The engine will roar when you want it to but settles as required.

  • What's it like inside?

    While there's plenty of adjustment, claustrophobes may object to the steep angle of the windscreen and firm grasp of the sports seats. There's plenty of space for two in the back, but the middle seat is uncomfortable so best avoided. The boot is a reasonable size at 420 litres but it's shallow and the wheelarches intrude, so not the most practical shape. It only gets a fabric cover, too, but there's no scrimping on the rest of the kit. Climate and cruise controls come as standard, along with Bluetooth and a tracker system, so you'll know exactly where it is when the children borrow it.

  • How reliable is it?

    Subaru came fifth (out of 36) in What Car?'s 2012 reliability survey, so we don't expect many problems on that score.
    As well as the car's four-wheel-drive system, high-tech stability and traction control systems help keep the car on the road, while six airbags offer protection if a crash is unavoidable.

  • Should I buy one?

    Not only is the WRX expensive to buy but running costs will be eye-watering too. However, it's on a par with the Mitusbishi Evo and resale values are predicted to remain strong.