Steering column 06.02.09

Pocket rocket, pocket money price

Subaru has just announced a rather impressive attempt to get us to buy its performance hatchback, the Impreza WRX. It is rolling back the price of the latest model to the price of the first ever model which was launched 15 years ago.

Even in this time of manu­facturers’ gimmicks to get us to part with our cash, this is an outstanding deal. It means you can own a four-wheel-drive hatchback with turbo-charged 2.5-litre engine turning out 228bhp for just £17,998 – that’s £2,100 down on the existing list price.

Lovers of performance Subarus like me will be sad to hear the company has decided it will be building no more WRX Turbos for sale in the UK, but this is quite a way to celebrate the end of the line.

Purists have watched the affordable performance car evolve through many phases since 1994 – some of them elegant, some of them dog-ugly – and many see the latest version as being one of the least visually imposing versions of the lot. However, it is still a strong road-car that’s stiff, powerful and practical. If people aren’t queuing up for this deal, I will be very surprised … and disappointed.

Aygo upgrade

Toyota’s baby hatchback, the Aygo, has been given a few minor tweaks for the coming year. In a nutshell, it has slightly boosted the engines’ performance and cleanli­ness and brought out a couple of special edition models.

The company has taken the little one-litre VVT-i petrol engine and given it what is apparently known as Toyota Optimal Drive. This is described as “a raft of technologies that deliver greater efficiency, improved performance and lower emissions”.

I hope they didn’t put too much effort into it though. The word marginal doesn’t quite convey how small the improvements really are.

The power has leapt from 67bhp to an identical 67bhp, the average fuel economy has less than skyrocketed from 61.4mpg to 62.8mpg and the carbon dioxide emissions level has plunged by 2g/km to 106g/km.

To help you recognise this snorting improvement, the 2009 car looks a bit different with a slightly changed front bumper and grille, some new wheel designs and a few pieces of chrome here and there.

Perhaps more interesting are the specials. The new Aygo Blue comes with Bluetooth phone connection, air conditioning and a special blue paint. The extra kit means it costs about £600 more than the Aygo+ model it is based on.

The Aygo Black is the same price as the Blue, but instead of the technology, it offers leather seats and trim. For an extra £500 again you can have the Black with air-con too.

The cheapest Aygo with the new engine is a three-door with manual transmission that costs £7,040, the cheapest Black and Blue have a similar engine, gearbox and complements of doors and cost £8,250. The most expensive Aygo of all is now a Black with air-con and a MultiMode automatic gearbox which costs £9,570.

Mike Grundon


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