THE RS sedan used to be the Subaru you bought when you couldn’t quite afford a WRX. It had more punch than the standard Impreza and looked pretty mean, too.
The new one is a different car and will probably appeal to older people instead of the young ones.
Like the hatch, the sedan looks bland, the engine feels a bit underdone and it doesn’t handle anything like a car with rally heritage.
On the flip-side, the RS is comfortable, the interior quality is better than many in its class and it has the traction advantage of all-wheel drive.
The RS may have AWD but other small cars are more involving to drive, look better and are cheaper.
Styling is subjective, but the Impreza is not going to excite anyone with its shape, even with a body kit.
The interior is better. Its layout is nothing out of the ordinary, but the surfaces look good and have a quality feel sometimes missing at this end of the market.
Its engine is underwhelming. It does the job, but can feel a bit lethargic. The figures suggest this 2.0-litre would be better than its rivals, but it doesn’t feel that way.
The current model Ford Focus feels much spicier and responsive.
The test car was a manual, which was fine. Fuel consumption on test was 8.4 litres for 100km, which is in the same ball-park as its rivals.
The Subaru is uninspiring on the road and overly soft suspension settings lead to a lot of body movement and body roll in turns.
This leads to a generally comfortable ride, which some people might appreciate. But this is an RS, which is supposed to be sporty.
Not surprisingly, the Impreza is competent on a dirt-road section of the test route.
It has excellent traction on slippery surfaces and the electronic stability control system does a good job in keeping the car straight without coming in too early.
This would be a good country car given the plush ride and dirt capability. The steering setup lacks feel, though, especially on-centre, making the driver feel disconnected.