It’s hard to drive it fast in any case, its light steering offering hardly any feedback. And while four-wheel-drive is standard, it actually works against the car, making it unresponsive and heavy. That’s a shame, too, because four-wheel-drive means the Impreza Hatchback could easily have dealt with a bit more power had Subaru been a bit more imaginative or daring.
Worse still, there is no sixth gear. If ever a car needed it, it was this one.
So far, so poor. The Nissan is miles ahead. And without a diesel in its stables, fuel costs are going to be high. Indeed, the 1.6-litre petrol engine is a thirsty power plant. When combined with four-wheel-drive, it returns just 44.1mpg economy.
Unsurprisingly, it’s not a particularly clean car, and emits as much as 147g/km of CO2. This yields a yearly tax bill of £145.
Do things get better inside? Hardly. At first, the cabin impresses you with its smart, clean design. It looks logically arranged, too, with the controls and dials within good reach of the driver.
However, once you get properly acquainted with the cabin, its flaws become evident. The plastics are scratchy, hard and cheap. The central screen is too small and doesn’t come with sat-nav. The stereo’s volume controls are badly positioned, while DAB radio isn’t standard.
We’d like to end on a positive note, and truth be told it’s a fairly usable car. The 380-litre boot is a good size, and competitive for this class. Four adults can sit in relative comfort, and there is a good amount of interior storage space.
Moreover, the light doors open nice and wide, and visibility is good. So, not a total disaster – but the Pulsar is a much better all-rounder.
Subaru – £19,000 – £20,500