I bought this car 2 years old, with one previous owner and 20K miles on the clock. It's great. The vehicle has a real sense of presence, and the environment of the cabin impresses with how well-built it all is. The handling is brilliant, very secure and sure-footed on the twisty country roads of Bucks and Oxford.
I do wish the driving position was just a bit more comfortable...the lack of under thigh support is a nuisance. This is not a problem on the higher spec cars with electric seats, I suspect. Also, the steering wheel adjustment needs to allow reach as well as tilt.
I like the engine...for two litres it's responsive and powerful without ever alarming you. Refined on the motorway when cruising at between 70 and 80, it is capable of quiet and determined purpose when you need to press on. I have the auto gearbox, and it is brilliant in comparison to every other I have used (Ford, Renault and Vauxhall). In fully automatic, the 'box behaves sedately and unobtrusively. In sport setting, there is a sharper, more serious attitude, but the engine never hangs on unnecessarily to higher gears and high revs. The manual option is fun and easy to use.
Insurance is high, but that's life. I appreciate the fact that the car comes with factory fitted Thatcham category 1 alarm and immobiliser, and the understated looks don't seem to attract the wrong sort of attention from either extreme of society (police or criminals).
I have owned the vehicle from new (Sept 2005). It has just had its 30,000 mile service (first 30,000 miles/3 years' free - part of Subaru promotion when purchased).
All contact with Subaru dealers has been excellent- they really look after their customers. The current car is a five-speed auto with manual override and the four-wheel drive provides excellent control in all weather and driving conditions.
It's extremly comfortable on long motorway journeys and shorter town commuting. Fuel consumption is averaging 27mpg; it could use a six-speed auto 'box with higher final drive ratio for improved flexibility, possibly with 300bhp?
It's tremendously well equipped for the money when measured against the 'German' equivalents; there are very few saloons on the road so it should maintain its exclusivity - but be prepared for high rate of depreciation.
I will be changing to a 2007 Sports Tourer in September which has an even higher standard spec (but no 6-speed auto box). Manual versions of 3.0L Spec'B' have the Impreza 'box, hence it can be 'notchy'; in my opinion the auto box provides superior control & performance.
Running costs are quite acceptable for this performance saloon - incidentally, fully comprehensive insurance with self/spouse with Hastings Direct £190 p.a!
I gave 3 stars for inside quality and equipment because some very important safety equipments are missing like VDC and steering wheel control for audio and there are some strange rattles from the doors and the back although materials, fit and finish look of high quality. On the road 3 stars because when cornering fast or sudden, it tends to oversteer and it leans more than I expected if you consider the toughness of the suspension and 17' wheels. Consumption is normal for a 2 litres auto petrol but insurance cost is realy very high. Body is rigid but suspension set up is not comfortable on every road. You drive it on a high way and it is surprisingly comfortable. But if you drive it on imperfect roads, the wavy movements of the chassis from the front to the back become tyring. Performance is mediocre and I expected more from a 165 hp engine and a Subaru chassis when I compare it to 2.0 petrol auto Accord that has a same or slightly better body control and quite better performance. The most amazing part of the car is symmetrical awd. The launching ability and the traction on dirty or snowy roads are perfect. Otherwise, the boxer engine has got nothing more than i-vtec engine of Honda but less dynamism. Yes, in theory boxer engines are better for a lower center of gravity but I could not feel this advantage when cornering till today. At last I realy wonder to read Neil O'Gorman's promised 7 days report and feelings.
Having owned the car for a little over 24Hrs now, you may think that this review is a little premature! However, what a drive, what a car! I picked my 20.REn up from Brighton on Monday morning, drove straight to Dover, across France, Belgium The Netherlands and home to Germany (via Dusseldorf airport to pick up a visiting mother)with no sress, strain or bother. The drive is fantastic, fuel econ (for a brand new car on the motorway at ahem.. 80ish)was sitting at 31.5mpg according to the onboard computer. As for equipment, you want for nothing, sat nav, multi cd, dual climate control, full black leather and any other toy you could care to mention. Praise indeed for this motor car, but only 4 star overall rating, wait untill I've owned it a week for the full five!
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