Weekend Courier - - Driveway - Bill Buys

JAMES Bond would have had a much eas­ier time if he'd had a Subaru Impreza, rather than an As­ton Martin, while sav­ing the world from Spec­tre and such nas­ties.

That's mainly be­cause an As­ton Martin draws a lot of at­ten­tion, which is the last thing a spy wants, while the lat­est Impreza re­mains al­most anonymous.

That seems to be just what a lot of buy­ers want, since Subaru was one of just three brands to achieve pos­i­tive growth in Fe­bru­ary.

Its star per­former was its new Impreza, with na­tional sales up an in­cred­i­ble 142 per cent for the month and 135 per cent year-to­date.

Subaru says the Impreza, now in its fifth gen­er­a­tion, is 95 per cent all-new, and a bit wider, lower and longer than its pre­de­ces­sor, but its looks – and prices – haven't changed much.

The Im­prezas come in four sedan and hatch­back vari­ants, all us­ing a new-gen­er­a­tion 115kW/ 196Nm 2.0litre four cylin­der boxer en­gine and a CVT driv­ing all four wheels.

Prices are from $22,400 for the Impreza 2.0i sedan, the 2.0i-L is $24,490 and the top-of-the-pops 2.Oi-S is some $4500 ex­tra at $28,990. The Hatch­backs are $200 more.

Kit-wise, the en­try model gets a 6.5-inch touch­screen with Blue­tooth connectivity and Ap­ple CarPlay and An­droid Auto smartphone mir­ror­ing, and rides on 17inch al­loys, while the L adds a big­ger (8.0-inch) touch­screen, higher-grade cloth trim and leather-rimmed steer­ing wheel and gear­knob, dual-zone cli­mate con­trol, fog­lights and a smarter multi-func­tion dis­play.

It also has Subaru's ex­cel­lent Eye­sight safety sys­tem, which uses a stereo cam­era mounted at the top of the wind­screen to ac­cess func­tions, such as adap­tive cruise con­trol and for­ward col­li­sion and lane de­par­ture warn­ings.

For another $1800 the 2.0iPremium comes with an elec­tric sun­roof and sat­nav.

Then there's the $28,990 2.0iS.

Fea­tures in­clude ac­tive torque vec­tor­ing, au­to­matic steer­ing-re­spon­sive LED head­lights with built-in day­time run­ning lights, leather-ac­cented trim with heated front seats and power ad­just­ment on the driver's side, sideskirts, larger (18-inch) al­loys and blind spot mon­i­tor­ing, lane change as­sist and rear cross traf­fic alert.

It has very good seat­ing, lots of room front and rear – and in the boot – and it has top-class in­stru­men­ta­tion.

It drives well too, though its CVT is not par­tic­u­larly smooth, es­pe­cially at low speeds.

But it's di­vine through the cor­ners, the driver sel­dom hav­ing to lift off as the all-wheel-drive and rally-re­fined sus­pen­sion keeps the car ex­actly where in­tended.

It par­tially makes up for the en­gine's lack of en­thu­si­asm.

Our clock stopped at 10.4sec­onds on a sprint from zero to 100km/h.

But that kind of data has more ef­fect on re­view­ers than buy­ers, and I'm con­fi­dent the other­wise ex­cel­lent ve­hi­cle will con­tinue its sales surge.

Other pluses are a five-star safety rat­ing and a 12,500km/12month capped price ser­vice pro­gram.

Of­fi­cial fuel con­sump­tion is 7.2litres/100km.

A good, solid car with a well-sorted driv­e­train. It won't win traf­fic light grands prix and it won't turn heads, but it ex­cels at al­most ev­ery other level.

Subaru's sales-surg­ing Impreza. Ver­dict:

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