This Car Review Is About: Subaru’s oft overlooked contender in the small-mid sized sedan market, the Impreza. It could be said that in real terms it’s one of just three of its kind from Japan, the others being Corolla and Mazda3.
Subaru is a niche player but that niche is a good size. And by staying with its own formula of all wheel drive powered by a flat or boxer four, Subaru continue to build upon that part of its brand recognition.
The Impreza comes in a four tier range, is available in hatch or sedan, and currently does not offer a hybrid and there are currently no plans to offer one. We drive the top of the tree Impreza S.
What Does It Cost?: Subaru lists the Impreza sedan with a starting price of $23,740 plus on-roads for the 2.0i. The 2.0-L starts from $25,860 and the Premium starts from $28,390. The range-topping 2.0i-S kicks of at $31,160. Drive-away costs will vary from state to state and city to city. Our drive-away price was circa $35,000.Under The Bonnet Is: The very familiar 2.0L boxer four and CVT. Peak power is 115kW, peak torque of 196Nm is had at 4,500rpm. CVTs are sparkle sapping and it’s no different here. There’s a sense of something energetic but dulled down and blunted in the real world. It’s a seven step programme for the CVT.
Our economy figure on a 80:20 urban/highway drive worked out to finish at 7.1L/100km. In context, that is a far better figure than the Forester Hybrid and XV Hybrid we’ve bracketed the Impreza with. They came in at 7.7L/10km… Subaru’s official combined figure is 7.2L/100km. Fuel is 91RON minimum.
On The Outside It’s: Sleek and slim. Imprezas of years past have had looks varying from round to bloated to bug-eyed. Subaru have got it right with the current version and although not quite as visually appealing as the offerings from Hyundai and Kia in particular, in sedan form it’s a prettier car than Toyota’s heavy looking Corolla sedan. There’s been some subtle updates to the front end, with the lights and lower air intakes given some quiet makeovers.
The rear lights feature the now familiar C motif, and each end has the solid black urethane additions. Wheels are machined and black painted 18 inchers and clad with Yokohama Advan Sport at 225/40. At 4,475mm it’s right in the middle range of medium size sedans.On The Inside It’s: A clean and user friendly design, with a Euro inspired dash. Open the front doors and immediately the large proscenium arch sweep from side to side captures the eyes. Fine lines from the A-pillar head towards the centre stack, bringing a V-shape that houses the centre air-vents and Subaru’s useful twin screen layout. There’s the upper screen with road angles, fuel usage, drive indicators whilst the larger centre console screen houses a simple to use interface in a 8.0 inch touchscreen. Common across this and the Forester & XV was the lack of DAB information displayed even after ticking (inside the settings box) to enable DAB display.Classy piano black surrounds contrast and complement the drilled alloy pedals and carbon-fibre look inlays in the. the leather seats have heating and they come on stream quickly. Looking forward the driver sees a pair of analogue dials with a classic font, and is also monitored by a part of the safety system, detecting drowsiness and wandering eyes. Convenience comes with two USB ports and a 12V socket, albeit, like Forester and XV, buried in an awkward location at the base of the centre stack.
Each door has the now ubiquitous bottle holder and there are cup holders for the front and rear seats. The boot is large at 460L but does not have folding seats, unlike the hatch.On the Road It’s: Typical small petrol engine and CVT. Gentle squeezing of the accelerator does a better job than a heavy foot. This way, getting underway is a more linear process, otherwise it’s engine noises and little result for it. Using the manual shift mode does see, especially when requiring rapidity from a standing start, to be a better end result. Given there is just on 1,400 kilograms to move before fuel and passengers, it does a reasonable job overall, and considering that fuel economy too, it’s useful enough. However we can’t help but wonder how a dual clutch or, better, a traditional torque converter auto would perform.
On the road, a light throttle is generally enough to have the Impreza moving along without fuss. The actual ratio changes as such will vary in intensity depending on how hard or soft the accelerator is pressed. It’s more a “normal” shift from medium application upwards, slurs nicely otherwise.
Ride and handling is class competitive. The steering is light but not lacking feel, the suspension absorbent but, again common with XV and Forester which share the same platform, the front suspension has short travel, meaning anything over 20kph and hitting speed humps, has a solid bang thump as the front end crashes into travel stops. The AWD system brings confidence in handling and allows the 2.0i-S Impreza to be punted hard through sweepers and minimal steering adjustments are required.The front end rarely runs wide thanks to the torque split system Subaru engineers in. When it does so, and it rarely does, a gentle dab on the brakes and an adjustment of the tiller has the nose settle and the chassis square off once again. Mid range acceleration is better than standing start, and comes with a sense of more connectivity between the engine and the rubber-band sensation of the CVT.A handy feature from Subaru’s systems is the forward looking alert setup. If the driver is doing something and hasn’t noticed the vehicle ahead has moved on, an alert noise is made and a flash on the driver’s display backs that up.
What About Safety?: Five stars thanks to Forward Collision Alert, Blind Spot and Front View Monitor plus Side View Monitor, Lane Change Assist and Rear Cross Traffic Alert. Seven airbags including driver’s knee is standard.What About Warranty And Service?: Five years and unlimited kilometres which is also owner transferable inside those five years. Conditions will apply. There is capped price servicing on a 12 month cycle or 12,500 kilometres, whichever arrives first. There is a complimentary checkup at the first month and then $350.25, $588.31, $354.83, $784.77 at the 48 month mark, and then $354.86.
At The End Of The Drive. It’s a strange disparity the Impreza has compared to the two other cars that share the basics and are hybrids. Using the same engine, driven on the same drive cycle, and coming out measurably more economical was not the result expected at all. It may “only” be just over a half litre per 100 kilometres but there is also an extra 130kgs in the XV Hybrid and close to 250kg in the Forester Hybrid. It then makes it a coin toss as to why the Hybrid duo would appeal and over the 2.5i Forester as well.