Subaru has chosen the ‘Autosport International Show’ to unveil a new, ‘discreet’ high-performance Impreza for those wishing to combine blistering performance with restrained exterior styling.

Called appropriately, Impreza WRX STI spec.D (for discreet), the new car can be seen on Subaru Stand 734 at the show – open from 12-15 January at Birmingham’s NEC.

Based on the latest facelifted ’06 MY Impreza and featuring a new 281 PS 2.5 litre turbocharged ‘boxer’ engine coupled with symmetrical all-wheel drive, the new model will be available from March priced at £28,495 on-the-road.

Its unique features include a smaller rear boot spoiler, removal of the rear window roof vane, silver instead of gold 17 ins alloy wheels, black leather interior, black instead of blue carpet, extra sound-deadening, front projector foglamps and ‘Prodrive’ lower front grille.

Only available in Crystal Grey metallic, the new Impreza WRX STI spec.D also boasts luxury equipment comprising a ‘SmartNav’ satellite navigation system with ‘Touch Screen’ plus free 12 months’ ‘TrackStar’ and ‘SmartNav’ membership and one month’s ‘SafeSpeed’ subscription.

Also standard is an upgraded 200 watt audio system featuring a Pioneer DEH-P70BT high-quality unit with CD and MP3 compatibility, integrated ‘Bluetooth’ hands-free kit plus RDS and ‘iPod’ adaptor.

With its new, low centre-of-gravity 281 PS horizontally-opposed engine, the latest STI has a 158.4 mph top speed and 0-60 mph time of 5 seconds.

The revised symmetrical all-wheel drive system has both front and rear limited-slip differentials plus yaw-rate sensors for even greater roadholding and interactive handling.

A new, improved version of the Driver’s Control Centre Differential (DCCD), allows the driver to control the vehicle dynamics more precisely.

Other STI features include a six-speed gearbox – now with a slicker shift – and a switch to spray the intercooler with water to retain power during high temperature/altitude driving. Drivers can also preset a warning buzzer and light to guard against over-revving the engine.

Managing Director of Subaru (UK) Limited, Peter Kinnaird – the man behind the spec.D project – said: “This car is a steel fist in a velvet glove, offering all the thrills of the regular Impreza STI but not shouting about its abilities.

“There will always be a strong, enthusiastic following for our more extrovert performance models but this new version will appeal to customers wishing to remain low-profile while enjoying their driving.”