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by Sam Rawlings

Around town, we found a noticeable chink in the Subaru Impreza’s armour. A significant lack of low-end pull that makes getting up to speed quickly, overtaking or accelerating up a hill make it seem like you’re asking so much for the Impreza’s modest 2.0-litre petrol engine.

However, what we did notice was that once you’re up and moving, the Impreza settles to offer a competent and enjoyable ride. With that in mind, we wanted to see what it was like out on the open road.

Unsurprisingly, the only time the engine and gearbox combination comes unstuck on highway driving is during heavy application of the throttle. Ask too much of the engine when wanting to overtake, and you’ll be treated to a considerable amount of engine roar.

Settling in for a long stint and the cabin feels well insulated, with very little in the way of wind noise or tyre roar. The quiet ride is helped by a suspension tune that does a good job of smoothing out coarser surfaces.

Contributing most to the way in which the Impreza handles changing surfaces is the brand’s mainstay, the all-wheel-drive system. Aided by well-weighted steering, having all paws pulling you along goes a long way in terms of instilling confidence as you move.

The open road is also where Subaru’s EyeSight starts to pay dividends. The system, which can be found in all variants except the base model, is a stereo camera technology that takes care of things like lane-departure warning, AEB and adaptive cruise control.

On a highway drive, you certainly get the feeling that the EyeSight system is constantly watching your every move, never hesitating to provide both an audible and visual warning to let you know you’re beginning to wander.

The system isn’t fallible, though, often being confused by the lines caused by road repairs and actual painted lane dividers. While we can’t really blame it for that, the excess warnings can be distracting.

The EyeSight-controlled adaptive cruise-control system is also, for the most part, very handy. Set your cruise control and the system will speed up and slow down with the traffic ahead and will maintain a consistent distance.

Generally helpful too is the AEB system, a feature I only experienced the full force of once, but not due to my own lack of attentiveness. In actual fact, the system cut in while I was approaching a semi-trailer to overtake. Wanting to carry my speed around the truck to overtake it, EyeSight didn’t agree with the speed I was approaching a slower-moving vehicle, applying the brakes quite hard without any real warning from the system.

If you plan on doing any long trips, one downside to keep in mind is that there isn’t much in terms of rear-seat passenger comfort. There are no air vents or USB charge points, though there are two in the front centre console that passengers can access if they need to.

All up, it’s the open road where the Subaru Impreza plays its best hand when it comes to driver enjoyment. The compliant ride and planted demeanor build confidence, but it can feel lacklustre in certain situations. Extra planning may be needed to carry speed up a hill or around another vehicle.

MORE: Impreza 2.0i Premium long-term report one – introduction
MORE: Impreza 2.0i Premium long-term report two – infotainment
MORE: Impreza 2.0i Premium long-term report three – interior
MORE: Impreza 2.0i Premium long-term report four – urban driving
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