Polar aggression 2008 Subaru Impreza
- Andy Leuterio () - November 28, 2007 - 12:00am

Unless you’ve been living under a rock the past few years, you already know that the Impreza is one serious driving machine. Bestowed with a horizontally opposed engine for a low center of gravity, symmetrical all-wheel drive, and a turbocharger in “Fast” and “Very Fast” versions in the WRX and STi, the Impreza has long been a favourite of enthusiasts that want their speed the way they like their steak: just a little bit bloody. Fast? Yes. Refined? Not very. But for a fraction of the price of a Porsche Boxster, a well-driven Impreza could embarrass many a sports car owner. You might not love the looks, but you had to respect the goods.

Of course, just because Subaru never had much of a problem selling its pugilistic street racer before, it doesn’t mean there wasn’t room for improvement. The boxy, P-51 Mustang look was looking a bit old, and interior room was being put to shame by subcompacts like, oh, the Honda City. Apples and oranges, yes, but even driving nuts have to keep the peace with the spouse and the kids sometimes.

So, to perhaps pacify both the style-conscious and the family men and women out there, the 2008 Impreza sports a new look and a little bit more room. And with the newest iteration, the usual questions arise. What does it look like? How much does it cost? And, (gasp)... is it slower?

In typical Subaru fashion, the new look is not necessarily drop-dead gorgeous. The 2.0R and 2.0R Sport models have a rather derivative look that brings to mind a rally driver’s interpretation of what the baby of a BMW 1-Series and the Mazda3 would look like, while the hood scoop-equipped WRX looks like an anime jet fighter minus the wings. Available courtesy of Motor Image Pilipinas in the 5-door hatchback configuration, the serpentine profile and trademark, square-jawed “face” of the basic shape make it attractive in the same manner Hillary Swank was sexy in Million Dollar Baby.

Even if you didn’t like her there, you knew she could punch your lights out. And just like before, the Impreza has got quite a punch to send all comers reeling.

The WRX model still features the horizontally opposed, turbocharged and intercooled, 2.5-liter powerplant rated at 230 PS and 32.6 kg-m of torque. With all-wheel drive provided by a center differential gear coupled with a viscous Limited Slip Differential, it still promises scintillating speed for not much cash: P1.750M. Shiftless folks need not apply as only a 5-speed manual is offered.

What if you don’t have that much moolah? Subaru has even bigger news for you: an Impreza can now also be had for just a little over a million in the 2.0R Sport. It loses the turbo, a half liter of engine displacement, and the F-16 intake on the hood, but otherwise it’s still a serious driving machine. So (un)-equipped, the Impreza gets by with a 2-liter naturally aspirated boxer engine rated at a not-insubstantial 150 PS and 20 kg-m of torque. Five-speed manual and 4-speed automatic transmissions are available.

Clearly targeted at the 2-liter segment currently populated by the Honda Civic, Ford Focus Sport, and Mazda3, the difference is that the Impreza has all-wheel drive. Casual enthusiasts will discount its value, but bang-for-the-buck and perennially harried drivers will surely appreciate the added traction and peace of mind of all-wheel drive. And let’s not discount the relative rarity of the Subaru badge, a distinction that will likely appeal to buyers that want to set themselves apart from the rest.

The 2.0R Sport  features an aero body kit; sequential manual override (for the automatic); 17-inch wheels; leather wrapped steering wheel and shifter; 10-speaker stereo with AUX inpute; info display; sport seats; HID headlamps; front and rear foglamps; ABS, SRS airbags; rear seat headrests; retractable cargo cover and a muffler cutter. The manual transmission 2.0R Sport retails at P1.060M, while the automatic retails at P1.140M.

Sit inside any variant and the fighter plane ambience is effected with the wraparound design of the cockpit, red instrument lighting, and the no-nonsense black and gray interior color scheme. The 3-spoke steering wheel feels meaty, the shifter feels like an aircraft control stick, and the sport seats feel supportive without being constrictive. At the back, there’s also marginally more legroom thanks to a new double wishbone rear suspension. The new system is said to absorb road surfaces better than the old dual-link struts, although we’ll find out whether the endearingly sticky, confidence-inspiring, point-and-shoot handling of before has been preserved with a proper test drive.

So, yes, it’s still fast. Yes, you’ll still either love or hate the looks. And yes, the Impreza just got a little bit closer in budget to reaching more motorheads’ garages.

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