Parkers overall rating: 3.5 out of 5 3.5

The range starts with a 2.0-litre non-turbocharged engine with 160bhp. There's enough power to worry some hot hatches, but not enough to feel that you’re getting the most from what Impreza has to offer. Expect to get from 0-60mph in 8.5 seconds (although this figure reduces to 11.3 seconds for the auto) and a top speed of 130mph. Next up is the 227bhp turbocharged 2.5-litre in the WRX; it's more than powerful enough for most drivers' needs and is seriously quick: 60mph is achieved in 5.7 seconds and it has a top speed of 143mph.

If that doesn't satisfy you, there's the 276bhp WRX STi. The performance figures are close to supercars costing two or three times as much: 0-60mph in 5.2 seconds and a top speed of 158mph. For the ultimate, specify the PPP (Prodrive Performance Pack) which boosts power to 316bhp and reduces the 0-60 time to 4.8 seconds.

Subaru has been honing the Impreza's handling - both for the road and the rally track - since 1993 and it's nothing short of incredible. The 'Boxer' engine sits low and the cylinders lay flat (as opposed to upright) to spread the weight and give a lower centre of gravity. New for the STi is a completely revised suspension, with a wider track and longer wheelbase.

There's also a gadget that sits by the handbrake called a "Driver's Control Centre Differential". It allows the driver to switch power distribution from the front to the back to give sharper cornering in-turn or more stable straight-line speed. Real rally stars will appreciate the intercooler water spray switch on the dash (see gallery). Push this at high temperature/altitude driving to retain engine power.