Words: Calvin Chan
Photography: Calvin Chan
Published: March 28, 2017
There’s more than meets the eye with the 2017 Subaru Impreza. It might just look like a facial refresh but the platform that underpins it is entirely new. Made of high-strength steel, it is the foundation that will soon make its way into the rest of the Subaru lineup, including the Forester and WRX.
Subaru says their new platform is 70% stiffer, which means better rigidity and body control, and a 50% decrease in body roll. Noise, vibration, and harshness are also reduced, and the wheelbase has been marginally stretched allowing for greater interior room.
New safety technology makes its way in, as does a new top-trim Sport-Tech model that replaces the “Limited” of late. The 2.0-litre BOXER engine has also been given a slight bump in power thanks to 80% new parts and direct fuel injection.
But enough about the facts. What’s the new Impreza like as a daily companion?
Well our first taste was in hatchback form, but you can still have a more traditional 4-door sedan if you so choose. The new Impreza is pretty much like the old Impreza but improved in almost every way imaginable. There are higher definition displays, more interior space, greater outward visibility, a better ride, and a quieter cabin.
The new Subie is a capable and friendly car that doesn’t try to intimidate you with technology or power. You get that “home” feeling when you first hop inside – all the controls are where you’d expect, the fonts are large and easy to find, and the ergonomics are spot on.
The new exterior design is handsome as well. I’m not much of a hatch person – I like my sedans but even I have to admit that the Impreza 5-door looks good, especially in this red paint. It’s inoffensive, less camouflaged in traffic, and more of a mainstream statement.
Thanks to the new platform, Subaru was able to stretch out the wheelbase, allowing for a substantial upgrade in rear seat legroom. Normally my 6-foot stature wouldn’t fit too well in the back of compact sedans or hatches, but I could sit behind “myself” with a few extra millimetres of wiggle room. Headroom wasn’t a problem either – no sloping roof to get in the way here.
Subaru was never known for their interior design but I must say, I’m sold with this refresh. The new steering wheel is sleeker and looks formidable with cleanly integrated buttons and substantial dials and controls that not only look expensive but feel expensive. Materials seem to be of higher quality this time around – even the door panel controls are shinier and clean cut, and the Impreza has got a proper handbrake unlike the electronic one that the Honda Civic uses.
Probably the biggest upgrade is the new infotainment system, which utilizes a similar two-screen setup to the outgoing Impreza: a 6.3-inch touchscreen flanked by a smaller one up above on the dashboard. Both screens are now higher definition and the larger center screen is more intuitive with larger and more responsive button prompts.
The secondary dashboard display is bigger too and no longer looks like a tacked on 8-bit monitor from the 90s. It now crisply displays anything from the radio station and fuel economy to upcoming weather conditions – convertibles need this function ASAP. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are also standard.
Subaru always had horrible sound systems (sonically abrasive without a pinch of bass), but the new Harmon Kardon system (standard with Sport-Tech) is miles better. I’m not too sure if it’s an entirely different unit from the one before, but it’s seems to be tuned better with more bass, clarity, and balance at lower tones.
Cabin insulation wasn’t exactly great with the last Impreza. CVT drone would always seep in and corrode the ride, but turning up the volume would result in even more disappointment. Luckily the new Impreza has more sound insulation, and even at highway speeds the noise is kept to a minimum. The difference is fairly noticeable.
There’s no shortage of new equipment here: reverse automatic braking, high beam assist, rear/side vehicle detection, and lane keep assist. There’s even a chime that will come on if the car ahead of you has starting moving and you haven’t – a feature seemingly dedicated to those naughty texting drivers.
It’s obvious that technology is one of the Subaru’s main selling points, but there’s something that the automaker has always done right, and that’s with outward visibility. Every time I hop into a Subaru straight from another vehicle, I will look out the front windshield and go “wow.”
There is nearly a clear 180-degree view around you – the side mirrors are located on the body panels so that they don’t block your view out the A-pillar, and the glass is thin and wide, helping to keep you visually aware of what’s around. It makes you a confident driver.
I’m sold on the interior packaging, but what’s the Impreza like to drive?
Subaru says body roll has been reduced by half, which it has, but only when compared to the outgoing Impreza. Body roll is still readily apparent – be prepared to be shoved into the side bolders when you’re making hard turns. Luckily the stiffened up Impreza stays relatively flat and reassured without tipping the balance off, but there’s more body roll than they make it seem in the press releases.
Handling is quite good too, especially in Sport-Tech trim where the Impreza is equipped with 18-inch wheels, a sport-tuned suspension, and torque vectoring which will lightly brake the inner front wheels during cornering for sharper turn-in. The front end bites pretty hard, while the all-wheel drive system shuffles power to the appropriate wheels in a seamless manner.
The “mostly” brand-new 2.0-litre boxer-four engine, which now has direct injection, could use a little more power. On spec it delivers 152 hp and 145 lb-ft, but you only notice it’s lacking when driving aggressively and overtaking vehicles at triple digit speeds. At city limits the Impreza has just the right amount of juice. Okay, a little more wouldn’t hurt.
The new Sport-Tech trim, which replaces the previous Limited model, can only be had with a Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT). I know, boohoo, but hear me out.
I adored the CVT in the last WRX Sport-Tech I had, and the same goes for the new Impreza. No, it’s not a driving enthusiast’s box of choice, it doesn’t sound very good, it’s harsher than the one in the Civic, but it gets the job done in the most fuel-efficient and hands-free manner possible.
The majority of the Impreza clientele probably don’t even know what a CVT is. My girlfriend drives a Forester but does she know that it’s not the same gearbox as the one in her Toyota Venza? No, not at all and to be honest most people wouldn’t know any better either.
Fact of the matter is, if you wanted a fun performance sedan from Subaru you’d probably be flocking over to the WRX. But for everyone else, i.e. 99% of us, we wouldn’t mind the CVT and live out our days in ignorant bliss. Power is there when you want it, and fuel is sipped at a leisurely rate.
I haven’t had the chance the drive the manual but our Chief Editor did, and he told me, “the manual feels sportier than the CVT, most definitely, but after driving both back to back on the track, the CVT isn’t exactly a deal-breaker. It juices out all the power in the most effective and efficient way possible. I don’t think most people would mind it.”
Steering feel on the other hand is numb and electric but not overly boosted. It feels natural, yet the steering ratio needs to be a bit tighter if they really want a “sporty” hatch. The Impreza fits right between the Civic and the Elantra in this regard.
The new Impreza ranks right up there with the Civic, the latter of which was the best compact sedan we drove last year. In fact, now I’d say they’re pretty much on par. Pricing is similar, and so is the drive. Though the Civic might have the better engine and steering feel, it’s the Impreza’s interior packaging and technology that give it a headstrong entry into the market.
Now just imagine all of these improvements making their way into the WRX – now that’s something I’m waiting to see.
型号 Model: 2017 Subaru Impreza Sport-Tech
顏色 Paint Type: Lithium Red
廠方建議售價 Base Price: $30,995
試車售價 Price as Tested: $30,995
軸距 Wheelbase(mm): 2,670
長闊 Length/Width/Height (mm): 4,460 / 1,775 / 1,480
車重 Curb weight (kg): 1,455
引擎 Engine: 2.0-litre flat-four, direct injection
最大馬力 Horsepower: 152 hp @ 6,000 rpm
最高扭力 Torque: 145 lb-ft @ 4,000 rpm
波箱 Transmission: CVT
擺佈 Engine & Drive Configuration: Front engine, AWD
油耗 Fuel Consumption ( City / Highway / Combined ) L/100km: 8.4 / 6.5
油耗 Observed Fuel Consumption (L/100km): 8.9
輪胎尺碼 Tires: Bridgestone Blizzak