Herald Sun - Motoring - - Road Test -

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.

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