Colour us ‘Imprezzed’ with Subaru’s new Impreza
Words by: Adam Allen
New? Haven’t I seen these around before?
OK, we admit it: the Subaru Impreza you see here isn’t that new at all. It’s been around now for about a year, but it is new in the sense that it’s completely different from the Impreza it replaces, and it’s the first Subaru to debut the Global Platform underpinnings that will eventually be the foundation for everything in the Subaru lineup. These freshly minted bones promise a much stiffer chassis, better handling and increased protection for the precious cargo on board- you. Subaru is really pushing its comprehensive safety tech these says, and with kit like EyeSight as our tester boasted you can see the effort isn’t just marketing blather. While those are the headlines, having spent time in the previous generation- and some of us having owned Impreza’s of various vintages in the past- we wanted to see how all these new components weave together to deliver the overall Impreza experience.
It might not have a sexy name, but Global Platform has been able to take the Impreza places that would have been nigh on impossible with the outgoing model.
Everyone who has driven a version of yesterday’s Impreza will all usually say the same thing- they’re fun to drive, durable and frugal but are also loud, chintzy feeling and don’t feel particularly substantial. The Global Platform is ushering in a paradigm shift on what you think of when you think Subaru- these criticisms aren’t relevant any longer. The increased stiffness allowed the suspension engineers to offer a more precise calibration, giving the Impreza an enormously improved and composed ride; along with substantially hushed levels of noise, vibration and harshness it lends the Impreza the feeling that it costs more than the number printed on the munroney. From a driving dynamics standpoint, everything has come a long way and you can feel that progress at work whether your swallowing up highway kilometers or chucking the Impreza around some of your favourite twisty bits. The engine and CVT were treated to revisions too, with the engine itself boasting 80% new components- but Subie fans can rest assured that the classic flat-four warble has been left intact. The CVT isn’t our favourite type of gearbox, but it’s hard to complain now that they’ve exorcised the incessant droning and sloppy power delivery. It’s so dialed in that we’d wager most Impreza buyers would never know anything but a conventional gearbox was at work.
Ever been to Vermont, Maine, or Colorado? These things are everywhere.
We Canadians are fond of our Subarus and yearly sales growth around these parts will attest to that. However, if you have visited the U.S. Northeast (and cities up and down the Rockies on the opposite coast) you have no doubt noticed that Subaru enjoys a monumental level of popularity. Some joke that it’s become the Official State Car of these jurisdictions, but you begin to realize that there’s no punchline when it seems like every few cars that pass by have the Pleiades logo on their grilles and decklids. There is a reason why they are so beloved- they are affordable, durable and offer symmetrical four-wheel drive on everything they make. Not only that, but they are a vastly more efficient option for those who don’t want to pilot a pickup or hulking SUV around town or in nasty weather. Should you require proof that a car with an accomplished AWD system is equally (sometimes more so) superior to a truck or SUV at keeping inclement weather at bay, head over to YouTube and search for ‘Subaru towing a Semi’ and you’ll see exactly what we mean.
Subaru is fast becoming another word for safety.
After knocking it out of the park with the incredibly moving “And they lived” ad campaign from a few years ago, mention Subaru to the average person and the first word association that might come to mind would be safety, with standard issue all-wheel drive likely not far behind. Virtually every car in the lineup had achieved the highest rating in IIHS crash tests, plus the aforementioned all-wheel drive makes the car a lot more approachable to folks who reside in the snowbelt. It’s more of a passive safety feature, but the snare drum tight structure tells the subconscious that you are indeed riding in a car that isn’t going to crumple like a discarded pop can in an impact. Our tester was equipped with Subaru’s EyeSight safety system which includes Adaptive Cruise Control, Pre-collision Braking and Throttle Management with Lane Departure and Sway warning rounding out the stuff that comes with this comprehensive package. It’s nice to have the feeling that your car is always watching your back, something its growing legion of customers surely agree with.
What might go wrong?
The biggest issue we have with the Impreza is what is doesn’t have, and that is a more robust drivetrain. That’s not to say that the engine and CVT are junk- far from it- but think of how much livelier the Impreza experience would be if it had a good amount of horsepower and perhaps a dual-clutch transmission. We’d not make a peep of regret if they decided to shoehorn the WRX’s turbocharged four banger under the hood, but that would effectively make it a WRX so there wouldn’t be much point. What we’re clamouring for is the option for more power- please make it so, Subaru. The only other issues we found during our time with the Impreza are hardly deal breakers- we noticed a cacophonous noise from the engine on cold starts in the morning (it settles down nicely once you get some heat into it) and a jumpy throttle pedal when setting off from rest. It appears they’ve done too good a job at erasing the flat footedness CVT’s are famous for when leaving a stoplight.
Should I buy A Subaru Impreza?
If you live in the Subaru hot spots we talked about earlier, it’s likely you already answered this question with a resounding yes. If you have owned an Impreza in the past and weren’t thrilled with it (and you’d be in the minority if buyer loyalty is called into play) you owe it to yourself to check out the 2018 version. We think that the Impreza is a very appealing alternative to a CUV and offers just as much all-weather prowess and practicality with a significant advantage in fuel economy; not to mention the sturdiness that Subaru’s are known for. We wouldn’t hesitate for a moment to recommend putting one in your driveway.
2018 Subaru Impreza Sport Tech 5 door- Specifications
- Price as tested: $32,620
- Body Type: 5-door, 5 passenger Hatchback
- Powertrain Layout: Front engine/all-wheel drive
- Engine: 2.0 four cylinder, DOHC, 16 valves
- Horsepower: 152 @ 6,000 rpm
- Torque (lb-ft.): 145 @ 4,000 rpm
- Transmission: 7-speed CVT automatic
- Curb weight: 1,455 kg (3,208 lbs)
- Observed Fuel consumption: 10.8L/100km (22 mpg)