Subaru Impreza remains a favourite model in the competitive used car market.
The local used car market is extremely competitive with numerous brands fighting to meet the ever changing demands of new drivers. If you are looking for an affordable, reliable car with a reputable solid build quality, you will most likely have considered the Subaru. While the beautiful 2008 Subaru Impreza is clearly something to behold, it unfortunately is out of reach of the used vehicle buyer. That said, Kenya is a used car market with more and more new drivers snapping up the hundreds of brands filtering into the country.
The bug-eyed 2002 Subaru Impreza was released in 2001 with fanfare and debate. The Subaru brand has a somewhat cult following in Kenya and this can be attributed to its rally exploits in the WRC. That said, it is a product to aspire for as it offers the Japanese quality and reliability associated with premium European nameplates. It is a discreet brand that does not have the social baggage associated with more affluent brands like BMW and Mercedes.
This Impreza was a great improvement over the 2000 model it replaces. One immediately realises that it is a different car when you look at it. Its improved looks gives off a mean but refined demeanor.
The shoes, or rims for that matter, of the car seem a bit too small at 14 inches and give of a sort of sunken feeling when viewed from the side; nothing that a set of 16-inch rims with low profile tyres cannot cure.
There was a great improvement to the headlights and taillights going with the trend then to incorporate all the lights into one cluster. The car looks almost comical in appearance and even though the Subaru team is not known for their vehicle naming skills, they can definitely make a design that works.
Sitting in the driver’s seat, one is hugged by the seats which are made with the racing bucket seats in mind. Comfortable, yes they are, but not for the vertically endowed. The steering wheel is made from Subaru’s partnership with MOMO, a manufacturer of after-market competition accessories.
The other major improvement is the sound with a multi-speaker CD/Tape Player; the music literally fills the cabin. This is quite impressive for such an economy-minded vehicle. However, since most people don’t use cassettes any more the CD player is quite sufficient.
The car comfortably sits five adults and the Subaru wagon family does not skimp on boot space as it is quite ample. The boot cover is an added advantage to keep prying eyes away from your belongings.
The controls of the air-conditioning are fairly user friendly.
Driving this vehicle on Kenyan roads, the performance differences with the older 2001 Subaru Impreza starts to emerge. Other than being a head turner, the 2002 Subaru Impreza is more responsive and has improved handling.
But the 1,500cc falls short on acceleration, as one has to almost literally stand on the pedal to overtake the lorries on the road. Assuming that potential buyers are people with families, this may make overtaking with a full load even more challenging especially up hill.
One can thus conclude that it handles like a race car, but accelerates like a bus.
This is one of the more affordable family cars to buy and should be marketed as such. Subaru should de-link this version of the vehicle with racing as this ends up disappointing Subaru rally enthusiasts, who would want to own a WRX but cannot meet the monetary requirements.
The 2002 Impreza is impressive when it comes to handling, but disappointing when it comes to performance, relegating it to the back of the sports car genre.
For use in Kenya however, the suspension system and quick reaction of the steering make it effective to people who need a car that has great handling, is spacious and is more cost effective when it comes to pricing per unit.