Latest Impreza built on new foundation

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Talking points

  • Subaru Global Platform makes Impreza 95 per cent new.
  • Lacklustre matching of engine torque and CVT auto performance.
  • Mid and high-spec models get full ‘EyeSight’ safety technology.

It’s late December 2016 and Subaru has introduced a substantially new Impreza, the most significant model in Subaru’s small-car line-up. Revealing the all-new platform, body and interior designed to carry a variety of iterations and potential drivelines through the next decade could not wait ’til 2017.

While at this stage Impreza is still sporting the familiar 2.0-litre naturally aspirated boxer engine and CVT automatic transmission only, its slightly larger cabin and significantly stiffer body and frame structure are a new foundation from which improved ride and handling were developed and future powertrains can be installed.

Impreza comes in four equipment levels, all available in either sedan or hatchback and all powered by the same engine, automatic transmission and of course Subaru’s symmetrical all wheel drive.

Starting price is $22,400 plus on-road costs for the 2.0i sedan, stepping up to $28,990 for the top-spec 2.0i-S. In each case the hatchback is $200 more.

Nice price leader

The entry 2.0i model is an attractive price leader. Although it misses out on Subaru’s more advanced safety features, such as vision assist, active cruise control and Eyesight, it comes with seven airbags, rear-view camera and a five-star ANCAP safety rating.

The introduction of Eyesight, Subaru’s driver assistance system, on all mid and high-spec models, means more than half of all Subarus sold in Australia will now feature this advanced safety technology.

Notable is the interior presentation upgrade, particularly in mid and high-spec models, which also receive a larger 8-inch touchscreen while all models get up-to-date connectivity in the form of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

Hatchback versions are most popular, outnumbering the sedan three to one, principally for their load versatility and rear-seat headroom.

More space in back

Increases in wheelbase and floor width have added 17 millimetres to the front and 72 millimetres to the rear occupant space, which in the hatch delivers a most accommodating space for four adults. The hatchback is the only version rated for towing, while all variants carry a space-saver spare wheel.

Impreza is also the first Subaru to introduce capped-price servicing over the first five years of ownership.

Improved ride quality

The launch drive focused on high-speed rural roads where the improved ride quality, cabin insulation and chassis stiffness were on display.

This engine’s inherent lack of torque at low engine revs meant constant transmission shifting on hills and the CVT produces a high-pitched whine when pulling hard in the higher rev range, all of which proved a distraction. Perhaps this was not the best environment in which to fully evaluate the new Impreza, which should be much more at home with everyday or suburban use.

Government fuel figures listed from 6.6 to 7.2 also appear to be difficult to match in real-world driving conditions. A full RoyalAuto road test is scheduled for early in 2017.

Price: 2.0i, $22,400. 2.0i-L, $24,490. 2.0i-Premium, $26,290. 2.0i-S, $28,990. Hatchback $200 extra.
Estimated on-road costs: $3583 to $3791.
Warranty: 36 months/unlimited km.
Capped-price servicing: 60 months or 62,500km.
Engine: 1995cc – Flat (Boxer) four.
Power: 115kW@6000rpm.
Torque: 196Nm@4000rpm.
Transmission/drive: Seven-speed stepped CVT auto/AWD.
Fuel: GVG 6.6 to 7.1 L/100km. Co2 emissions 152 to 163g/km. 91 RON petrol. 50L fuel tank.
Standard safety/2.0i: Five-star ANCAP. Seven airbags. ABS and DSC. Hill Holder. Reversing camera. ISOFIX child seat mounts.

Written by Ernest Litera
December 22, 2016