When Subaru introduced its unique boxer diesel in its larger cars a year or two back, this won widespread praise for its distinctly undieselly free-revving smoothness. But the company made the mystifying decision not to offer the attractive new engine in its popular Golf-sized Impreza model – at least not at first.

Now Subaru has relented and diesel-powered versions of the Impreza are going on sale at prices starting at £20,000, which represents quite a premium over petrol-powered Imprezas, prices for which start at £12,725 (1.5 litre) and £15,170 (2.0 litre). Even the WRX, the cheapest of the out-and-out sporty 2.5 litre Imprezas, is available for slightly less than the cheapest diesel model.

Nevertheless, the diesel Impreza seems likely to represent a very interesting option for buyers who really appreciate Subaru's uncompromising engineering. The boxer engine's horizontally opposed cylinder layout means high levels of smoothness and a low centre of gravity, which helps stability and handling; like other Subarus, the diesel Impreza has four-wheel drive as standard too.

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