BMW M5 v TVR Chimaera v Audi RS2 v Renault Clio V6 v Mazda RX-7 v Subaru Impreza v Lotus Espirit - Subaru Impreza: Subaru Impreza RB5 (PPP)

A practical, shockingly fast B-road missile, the Impreza leaves anyone who takes the wheel stunned by its raw pace and fluidity

'All or nothing' could be said of the RB5, except you never actually drive it slowly. You climb in, barely noticing the businesslike but bland interior, fire-up the throbby flat-four… and then something strange happens: you turn into a complete nutter. You demand everything from the engine, you torture the P Zeros, you have no mercy on the brakes and drive like the devil is filling your mirrors. On these roads the RB5 is uncatchable.

Uncatchable and mind-blowing fun. The engine pulls hard from 3000rpm and never seems to die off, the chassis feels poised and ready to react to any input, and the ride is so supple that the RB5 seems to glide from corner to corner. It’s big steering wheel is never truly alive with feedback, but you still feel in touch with the road surface and it’s not long before you nudge up to its limits.

When you do, it’s the front tyres that lose grip first, then as the engine continues to scale its torque curve you can feel drive being shuffled to the rear, neutralising the balance and firing you on to the next straight without a wasted joule of energy. Understeer can be avoided, though. Keep the engine right in the powerband (this is no trouble as it’s so elastic), brake hard and deep into the corner and feel the rear step out. Now you’ve got no lock on, all four tyres drifting in unison towards the apex. Feed in some power and lateral motion is controlled by forward drive, slingshotting you through the corner and making you hungry for the next.

The RB5 is truly outstanding, each ingredient perfectly in balance with the next – power to grip, weight to damping force. You can get the 276bhp P1 for around £10,000 too, but I reckon this blend of pace and adjustability is about as good as it gets in the Impreza dynasty. If you find an honest, unmodified RB5 then don’t let the opportunity slip; it’s one of the great four-wheeled experiences.

Specifications

EngineFlat-4, 1994cc, turbo
Max power237bhp @ 6000rpm
Max torque258lb ft @ 3500rpm
Weight1235kg
Power/weight195bhp/ton
0-60mph5.0sec
Max speed143mph (claimed)

Most Popular

Lotus Emira makes world debut – all-new coupe to rival Alpine A110
Lotus Emira
Lotus

Lotus Emira makes world debut – all-new coupe to rival Alpine A110

Lotus's first all-new car for a quarter of a century comes AMG power and sub-£60,000 price tag
13 Jul 2021
Mercedes S-class 2021 review – the ‘best car in the world’ just got better
Mercedes S-class – front tracking
Mercedes

Mercedes S-class 2021 review – the ‘best car in the world’ just got better

It may be slipping out of fashion, but the institution that is Mercedes’ S-class is only getting stronger
22 Jul 2021
New Audi RS3 revealed – AMG’s A45 S rival returns fitter and faster
2021 Audi RS3 Sportback – front tracking
Audi RS3

New Audi RS3 revealed – AMG’s A45 S rival returns fitter and faster

After months of tech insights, we now finally get to see the all-new Audi RS3 in its finished form
19 Jul 2021