The recent news that Subaru is not to bring the next generation of its WRX super-saloon to UK showrooms will dishearten many of Britain’s motorists. The WRX – or Impreza as it was formerly known – has earned itself a cult following here thanks to its prodigious performance and near fool-poof handling.
However, with something of a boy-racer image, the Impreza’s customer appeal was rather narrow – something that has been attributed to its discontinuation. Regardless, we feel that the Impreza, along with the its four-wheel-performance brethren, are ideally suited to the needs of UK motorists: relatively compact, family friendly with accommodating rear seats and large boots, and with the all-weather security missing from more obvious sports cars, only heavy maintenance schedules and a thirst for fuel are the real negatives for potential customers.
So, if you’re after a car that will fulfill your performance desires, while being able to accommodate your children AND get you there when the weather turns against you, here are our top five four-wheel-drive performance specials.
Subaru Impreza RB320
The last Impreza to bear the iconic name, the RB320 was created to honour British rally legend Richard Burns, who passed away in 2005 from cancer. A UK market special, the RB320 was available solely in black and featured specially developed suspension by long-time Subaru rally partner Prodrive. It retains all the usual Impreza strengths, though with additional power over the standard model. Considered to be one of the finest Imprezas created, its kudos is further boosted by the fact it was limited to a production run of just 320.
Search for a used Subaru Impreza here.
Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution IX
The Impreza’s natural enemy, the ‘Evo’ treads a similar path to its Subaru rival, being honed on the stages of the WRC. Despite the similarities – turbocharged engine, four-wheel-drive and a bloomin’ great rear wing – the Evo offers a completely different driving experience, being much more ferocious and aggressive. Pick the right model and you’ll have the performance to shame exotic supercars, which isn’t bad considering its 2.0-litre engine. We’ve recommended the Evo IX as it best represents the hardcore ethos the model line came to represent far better than the later X, which was softened to appeal to a broader market.
Search for a used Mitsubishi Lancer here.
You’re unlikely to have heard of Nissan’s line of Skyline performance coupes unless you or your children are fans of the Gran Turismo PlayStation game. While it was arguably brought into the mainstream by the race simulator, the Skyline name has been around for decades, and has a cult following amongst tuners and racers alike.
The latest iteration is badged simply ‘GT-R’ and takes the model line to new heights. Displaying a typically Japanese method to performance motoring, every aspect of the car’s design and manufacture has been approached with the aim of extracting maximum performance. As a result, the GT-R will get from 0-62 mph in three seconds and was faster round the fearsome Nurburgring racetrack than the mighty Porsche 911 Turbo.
Search for a used Nissan GT-R here.
The car that defined the performance 4×4. When the Quattro burst onto the rally stages after its launch in 1980, rivals were left trailing in its wake, and its revolutionary quattro four-wheel-drive system changed the face of the sport forever. Highly collectible today, the Quattro is desired not only for its unique driving experience but also for the evocative noise of its turbocharged five-cylinder engine. It may be 33-years-old, but don’t expect to bag yourself a bargain. Having acquired classic status amongst car fans, Quattros now change hands for many times its new list price of around £14,000.
Search for a used Audi here.
One for the well-heeled sports car fan. The Porsche 959 came onto the scene in 1986 and was the German firm’s rival to the iconic Ferrari F40. While it was famously stripped of its title as world’s fastest production car by the Italians (195mph playing 202mph), the Porsche was a gadget-laden engineering showcase, to the Ferrari’s glorified go-kart. Built to compete in the notoriously dangerous (and later banned) Group B of rallying, the 959 came with a twin-turbocharged 2.8-litre engine, and was the first car to have tyre-pressure sensors and featured lightweight wheels made from a magnesium alloy.
You’ll be extremely lucky to find a 959 advertised in the classifieds, but you can search our stock of used Porsche 911s here.