Subaru's new Impreza - now in showrooms around the world -has won the 2000/2001 Car Of The Year Japan 'Special Award' for its widely acclaimed performance and handling.

All passenger cars produced and launched in Japan between 1 November 1999 and 31 October 2000 were eligible. By coincidence, with the award in its 21st year, the 54-strong committee of automotive experts, critics and journalists had 21 new models to choose from.

The Special Award recognises such attributes as outstanding product concepts and mechanical features. The judges stated: "The Subaru Impreza is a sports sedan with the greatest attention to driving pleasure we’ve seen in recent years, and we were impressed by the safety offered by its highly rigid body."