Subaru Impreza 2017 review

RACV RoyalAuto magazine

Subaru Impreza

Subaru has introduced a global platform designed to underpin all new models over the next decade, starting with this 2017 Impreza, the most significant model in Subaru’s small car line-up. The new platform, underpinning Impreza’s revised body and interior, has been designed to carry a variety of model iterations and potential future drivelines. In safety terms it also improves collision energy absorption efficiency 1.4 times over the superseded model.

At this stage Impreza continues with the familiar 2.0-litre naturally aspirated boxer petrol engine and comes with a CVT transmission only. That said, both engine and transmission have benefited from many subtle refinements and upgraded components, resulting in a smoother, more efficient driveline. More importantly, the new frame and body structure provide a significantly stiffer foundation from which improved ride and handling were able to be developed.

Impreza comes in four equipment levels, all available in sedan and hatchback and with the same engine, transmission and, of course, Subaru’s trademark all-wheel-drive. Starting price is $22,400 plus on-road costs for the 2.0i sedan and the range tops out at $29,190 for our test car, the top-spec 2.0i-S hatchback. At each level the hatchback is $200 more than a sedan.

Superior on safety

The entry 2.0i sedan remains an attractive price leader, with seven airbags, rear-view camera and a five-star ANCAP safety rating for the same price as the old model. More advanced safety features, such as Eyesight – Subaru’s forward collision avoidance system – and active cruise control come standard on the mid-spec 2.0i-L from $24,490. The 2.0i-Premium adds sat-nav and sunroof for $26,290, while the 2.0i-S gets vision assistance features – blind-spot, lane-change and rear cross-traffic alerts and steering-responsive headlights – along with more convenience and dress-up features. The introduction of Eyesight on all mid and high-spec models means more than half of all Subarus sold in Australia will now feature this advanced safety tech­nology. The system has been enhanced with longer distance and wider angle recognition and so pre-collision braking now kicks in at up to 50km/h (previously it was 30km/h).

The new cabin, although externally not dissimilar to the old model, sits on a 25mm-longer wheelbase and is lower and wider. In conjunction with detailed reconfiguring of the in­­terior trim, the new Impreza has more front and rear shoulder room and 26mm more rear leg room. Notable is the significant improvement in interior presentation, seat shaping and comfort, particularly in mid and high-end versions. They also get a larger eight-inch touch screen, while all models have the latest connectivity in the form of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

Hatchback versions are the more popular, outselling the sedan three to one, principally for their load versatility and now, surprisingly, better rear seat head and leg room. The hatch is the only version rated for towing. All variants carry a space-saver spare wheel.

Subaru Impreza interior

Dynamic feel

Improved ride quality, sharper handling and better cabin sound insulation are clearly evident with the new stiffer chassis. Combined with a lower centre of gravity, the electric power steering is precise and well weighted, and overall there’s a more enjoyable dynamic feel to the car over all manner of twisting and undulating roads. There’s also reassuring traction provided by all-wheel-drive plus torque vectoring, where cornering balance is maintained by sending drive to the appropriate wheels. Around the city and suburbs, revised gearing in the seven-step CVT disguises the engine’s modest pulling power from low revs, and in this environment Impreza feels as sprightly as its competitors. Cruising at highway speeds is also not an issue, but in more demanding situations the transmission’s inherent tendency to select higher gears for economy results in frequent shifting. In worst-case scenarios, such as when fully loaded on hills or overtaking, the CVT produces a high-pitched whine when pulling hard in the higher rev range, or hunts up and down the pre-programmed ratios, which is distracting.

There are subtle weight-saving measures in all models, such as an aluminium bonnet saving 5.2kg, yet the government fuel consumption figure in the 2.0i-S of 7.2L/100km (all other models are assessed at 6.6L/100km) was difficult to match in real-world driving conditions; our week of testing returned an average 8.0L/100km. There’s also a five-litre reduction in fuel tank capacity to 50 litres.

Impreza is the first Subaru with capped-price servicing over the first three years of ownership, which in conjunction with a revised servicing schedule means a $900 saving.

The vedict

Renowned for enduring build quality, the new Subaru Impreza steps up with an advanced body/chassis to provide better ride and handling along with improved safety. Cabin space and presentation have also improved. While generally competent, the engine and CVT auto struggle in difficult situations.

SUBARU IMPREZA 2.0i-S HATCHBACK

Price

$29,190 + $3800 (est.) ORC.  Model range $22,400-$29,190.

Safety

ESC. 7 airbags. Auto emergency braking. Reversing camera. Adaptive cruise control. Lane-change, blind spot and cross-traffic alerts. Tyre pressure monitor. Auto wipers/lights. Daytime running lights. ISOFIX.

Connectivity

Sat-nav. 8-inch touch screen. Bluetooth. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. 1CD, AM/FM radio and USB connectivity.

Vehicle features

Dual-zone climate-control. Leather-accented upholstery. Sunroof. Stop/start fuel-saving.

Driver features

Powered seat. Steering-responsive LED lights. Electric folding mirrors.

Specifications

Drivetrain: 1995cc 4cyl petrol engine. 115kW@6000rpm, 196Nm@4000rpm. CVT. AWD. 50L tank. 8.0L/100km (RACV test), 7.2L/100km (govt figure). 91-RON petrol.
Wheels: 18” alloy, 225/40 R18 tyres. Space-saver spare wheel.
Acceleration: 0-60km/h, 5.3 secs; 0-80km/h, 7.7 secs. 0-100km/h, 10.7 secs. 50-80kmh, 5.5 secs; 60-100km/h, 8.1 secs; 0-400m, 17.8 secs.
Braking: 20.1m from 80km/h.
Towing: 1200kg braked trailer capacity (120kg towball load).
Environment: 157g/km CO2.

Service/Repairs

12-month/12,500km capped-price services.
3yr/unlimited km warranty.

RACV rating

***1/2

RACV can help

RACV car loans have no monthly fees. Go to racv.com.au/finance for details and online calculators.

Written by Ernest Litera
April 21, 2017