For 2007, the Subaru Impreza undergoes several trim changes. The 2.5i line-up is similar to that of 2006, but with the introduction of a 2.5i Special Edition on the sedan and wagon. The Outback wagon trim line – a confusing option, given that the Outback name is also used on an entirely different vehicle line-up – is gone.

The automatic transmission option has been eliminated from the WRX sedan and wagon, but those models receive a standard sunroof. WRX and WRX STI models receive new audio systems, with MP3/WMA capability, auxiliary input jack and pre-wiring for SIRIUS satellite radio.

Finally, the leather-wrapped steering wheel has been changed on all applicable models, and the gear selector on the 2.5i and WRX models is changed to match the one on the Legacy 2.5GT.

The Impreza is available as the 2.5i sedan and Sport wagon, with 2.5-litre four-cylinder horizontally-opposed engine; as the WRX sedan and Sport wagon, with turbocharged 2.5-litre horizontal four-cylinder engine; and as the WRX STI sedan, which also uses the 2.5-litre but with a high-boost turbocharger and large intercooler with manual water spray. The 2.5i and WRX use a five-speed manual that can be optioned to a four-speed automatic in 2.5i models, while the WRX STI uses a six-speed manual transmission.

All use symmetrical all-wheel drive (the name refers to the symmetrical layout of the components, for better balance); the WRX includes a limited-slip rear differential, while the WRX STI has a helical-type limited-slip front differential, and Torsen limited-slip rear differential.

Features on the 2.5i models include 16-inch five-spoke alloy wheels, front seat side airbags with head and chest protection, heated black mirrors, auto-off headlamps, variable intermittent wipers, six-way manual driver’s adjustment, CD stereo, air conditioning, cruise control, power windows, and power locks with keyless entry. Wagon models include height-adjustable rear head restraints, roof rails, rear washer/wiper with de-icer, and grocery bag hooks.

The 2.5i SE adds 16-inch seven-spoke alloy wheels, body-colour mirrors, fog lights, power sunroof, heated seats, leather-wrapped wheel, six-CD/MP3 stereo with satellite pre-wiring, and automatic climate control. Wagon models add a cargo cover.

The WRX adds 17-inch alloy wheels, engine immobilizer, spoiler, power sunroof, windshield wiper de-icer, aluminum alloy pedals, sport-design gauges and centrally-mounted tachometer; wagon models add lockable roof rack crossbars and cargo tray.

Features on the WRX STI include 17-inch lightweight alloy wheels with unidirectional summer performance tires, Brembo high-performance brake system, quick-ratio steering, high-performance sport-tuned suspension, keyless entry, premium six-CD/MP3 stereo with satellite radio pre-wiring, Xenon headlamps, roof vane spoiler, variable intermittent wipers, blue Alcantara sport seats, aluminum alloy pedals, heated seats, STI gauge package, tachometer red line warning alarm, automatic climate control, cruise control, and power windows.

The Impreza is a sturdy little machine, with the benefit of its all-wheel drive system and a punchy little engine: it’s a lot of technology for the price, which can sometimes be reflected in its interiors, which don’t always match up to those of some lesser-priced competitors. Still, the driving experience is a decent one, even in the entry-level models.

The deletion of an automatic transmission in the WRX models underscores that version’s ability as a compact sports sedan – or wagon, should you want the extra cargo capacity – with excellent performance and a price-tag that’s $13,500 under the STI. But if the budget allows, that fire-breather is tops on the wish list, with its in-your-face styling features, rally-honed driveline and driver-selectable torque split (up to 65 per cent can be transferred to the rear wheels). Its horsepower ratings drop from 2006 (as does the WRX), but that’s only because of new SAE measurements: its impressive output hasn’t changed at all.

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