By Derek Ogden
CAPTION: The latest example of the popular Impreza holds the key to Subaru’s future.
You don’t need a crystal ball to see what’s going on at Subaru over the next 10 years.
The fifth generation all-wheel drive Impreza is based on the new global platform that will underpin all new models for the coming decade.
The platform is 95 per cent new, so it’s a major step up for a company that is famed for engineering excellence.
Subaru says that the Global Platform offers new levels of agility, crash protection, efficiency and enjoyable driving in a vehicle that sees the biggest step-change in Impreza since the original launched in Australia in 1994.
Also debuting with the new Impreza is a 12,500 kilometre / 12-month capped price service program.
Available as a sedan or hatchback exclusively with a continuously variable transmission, Impreza 2.0i sedan is priced from $22,400, plus on-road costs, with considerable upgrades in specification.
The Impreza 2.0i-S hatch, the test vehicle, tops out the range at $29,190.
The new Impreza is 10 mm lower than the superseded model and 35 mm wider, and maintains Subaru family features, including the classic hexagonal grille and hawk-eye headlights highlighting its wide and low stance.
A further nod to the car’s heritage is a bold bar across the front grille representing a horizontally opposed engine, underlining Subaru’s Boxer engine history. Slim and sharp headlamps with a C-shaped motif boost Impreza’s sporty appearance.
LED lights in the range-topping 2.0i-S include the latest functions such as steering responsive headlamps and LED daytime running lights.
A style line dubbed the ‘dynamic blade’ runs the length of the doors, producing a distinctive sculptured profile while the windscreen angle aids aerodynamics, highlighted in the hatchback by a large rear spoiler.
Every variant features an active shutter grille in the centre of the lower front bumper which opens and closes to control the flow of air through the engine bay and under the cabin floor, thus reducing air resistance and aiding fuel efficiency.
An accentuated horizontal rear light set-up boosts Impreza’s wide and low appearance and matches other new Subaru models.
In the hatch, a lip is added to the outer lens indicator corner is part of the aerodynamic package.
The latest Subaru Impreza has greater interior width and height. Wheelbase is increased 25 mm for greater legroom. Cabin width is up 29mm at the front and 34mm rear, and distance between seat centres up 21mm. Rear legroom is up 26mm.
Textured stitching pattern, soft texture armrests and extensive sound-deadening applied to almost every section make for quiet surroundings.
At first the presence of three screens of information may seem daunting but familiarity takes away the fears and co-ordinated control and connectivity between the multi-information display and multi-function display, enhance operation and improve safety while driving.
The simple layout of gauges and controls makes them easy and intuitive to control.
In Impreza 2.0i-S the widescreen full colour MFD, situated in the top of the central dashboard, provides a stack of information, including Vehicle Dynamics Control and fuel efficiency, additional navigation information and an automatic display of essential information in pop-up screens.
The LCD located in the instrument cluster, between the gauges, includes graphical information for driving and control, without the need to read, while the infotainment unit shows information including rear view camera display and entertainment information. Smartphone connectivity is available by way of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
All Imprezas are powered by a 2.0-litre direct-injection flat-four engine, producing 115 kW of power at 6000rpm, and 196Nm of torque at 4000rpm.
Major improvements have been made throughout the engine, including higher power output in the most useful range.
It has a higher compression ratio, better gas flow and high-flow exhaust gas system. Weight savings throughout the drivetrain add their part.
It uses a CVT with what Subaru calls Auto Stepped Speed Control, this gives it a pseudo seven-speed manual mode.
Subaru Impreza has earned a five-star rating for occupant safety from the Australasian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP).
Subaru is confident that its new platform will enable Impreza to gain the highest safety ratings out to the year 2025.
Wider range within the CVT helps produce a pleasant feel. Vibration and noise characteristics are improved.
Impreza’s braking benefits from new-generation callipers and high strength material brake pads.
Fuel consumption on our test car was up to 12 litres per 100 kilometres in day-to-day city running. That was not particularly good but the 5.7 litres per 100 on the motorway made up for the thirst around town.
Subaru’s award winning forward facing Eyesight, using the third generation driver assist system, includes stereo camera images in colour and vision of multiple items at the same time.
Other EyeSight features include enhanced pedestrian avoidance, pre-collision braking assist and pre-collision steering assist, plus advanced performance of adaptive cruise control (brake light recognition etc.). It all gives added confidence to the driver and passengers.
Subaru is obviously well aware of the dangers of driver inattention such as daydreaming at the traffic lights or working on a text message. The Impreza gives a warning ding and info screen gives a message saying, ‘The vehicle ahead has moved away’.
Audible warnings include rear cross traffic alert and blind spot vehicle alert via as flashing light in the exterior mirror housings.
The Subaru Impreza is a star performer, recently named Japan Car of the Year and is already showing the way with 962 Australian sales in February. Having just spent a week in one it’s not hard to understand why.
Impreza 2.0i sedan $22,400; Impreza 2.0i-L sedan $24,490; Impreza 2.0i-Premium sedan; $26,290; Impreza 2.0i-S sedan 28,990; Impreza 2.0i hatch $22,600; Impreza 2.0i-L hatch $24,690; Impreza 2.0i-Premium hatch $26,490; Impreza 2.0i-S hatch $29,190.