Rumour has it that Subaru is contemplating selling a front-wheel-drive version of the Impreza in Europe, a move that will give the manufacturer a direct competitor to the Toyota Corolla, Mazda3 and Mitsubishi Lancer Sportback.
Subaru currently offers a bum-draggin' variant of the Impreza in its homeland of Japan, where it's known as the Impreza 15S. The FWD 15S deletes the Impreza's weighty transfer case, rear differential and all associated driveshafts for a substantial weight saving. Power from the 1.5-litre EL15 boxer four is a lowly 81kW, with torque pegged at just 144Nm.
But what the 15S lacks in power it more than makes up for in price. At just ??1,470,000, the 15S is the cheapest of the Impreza range and is an attractive choice for those who neither want nor need the performance, weight and AWD grip of the higher-spec models.
The Euro-spec FWD Impreza rumours also mention something about a turbocharged version of the 1.5-litre being offered, with Subaru's new diesel boxer motor also being a possibility. Both engines would bump up the price considerably however (especially as a turbo version of the EL15 doesn't exist yet), and would bring the FWD Impreza's price uncomfortably close to that of its AWD siblings.
But would selling a povvo-pack front-driver alongside the rest of its all-AWD range hurt Subaru's image? In many of its markets, Subaru has built up a reputation as a maker of safe and quick all-weather vehicles. You'd have to think that the introduction of a two-wheel drive model would work against it in the showroom. Then again, low, low prices have a habit of changing customer preferences...