MENTION to most people that you drive a Subaru and you are guaranteed to get a quizzical look.

MENTION to most people that you drive a Subaru and you are guaranteed to get a quizzical look.

Why? Well, it's not really one of those mainstream vehicles that clog our roads from Beit Bridge to Buffelspoort.

Of course it's won more World Rally Championships than a Zimbabwean politician has farms, but that success has not spilled over to sales of their cars (locally at least).

Pity, but a positive is it has helped to maintain that sense of exclusivity that surrounds the Subaru brand. That might change, though, with the new Impreza WRZ.

For here is a car that mixes attractive looks with an engine that is like a rocket launcher.

Whereas the WRXs from the past were at times overstated in their design details, this time we have a muscle-car that hides the animal lurking beneath the bonnet quite nicely.

Admittedly there are twin exhausts poking out that are the size of Mike Tyson's biceps. There is that trademark gaping hole in the bonnet that acts as an air filter. You have the 17-inch low-profile tyres with attractive rims. Also don't forget the rear spoiler that is there for a purpose.

But where the Impreza WRZ scores top marks is its ability to combine functionality with full-on adrenaline. It performs its day job of urban commuter with a minimum of fuss, but come the weekend it can shed its nice-guy image and turn into a total hooligan.

Stab the accelerator with your right foot and it propels you forward with indecent haste. Keep your foot planted and the scenery suddenly becomes blurred and your concentration levels are stretched as it sinks in what a lethal car this actually is.

Power comes via a 2,5litre turbocharged engine that will see you clocking 100kmh in five seconds. That is seriously fast and puts it in the league of cars that will easily cost double what the WRX sells for.

The WRX is available only in a five-speed manual - though an automatic is available in the smaller 2,0litre - and when cruising on the open road a sixth gear would have been nice to slip into.

Safety wise the Subaru is loaded. The body shell is reinforced with four different types of steel in critical areas which helps spread the impact in the event of a collision.

Airbags are provided in the front, side and curtain and the seats are designed in such a way as to reduce whiplash.

As you would expect from a car of this quality, ABS brakes and brake assist are standard features to help keep you safe and on the road.

The interior is subtle, but with the goodies you would expect when shelling out R359000. Climate control, CD player and sporty front seats give it that upmarket feel, and the ride is comfortable for what is really a sports car.

The car is available in six colours and the interior comes in standard jet black, which suits the feel of the vehicle down to a tee.

Overall the WRX is an awesome car to drive. It's designed for those who love their cars . where motoring is not simply a case of getting from A to B as fast as possible but for those who enjoy the journey all the way.

The symphony emitting from the exhaust is pure magic.