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The all-new Subaru Impreza has landed in Australia and is of vital importance to the Japanese company as it’s built on a modular platform that, with variations, has been used in every new model Subaru builds for many years.
On a trip to Japan a few months ago I was in a small group of Australians comprising the first foreign journalists to see the all-new Subaru Impreza. Subaru’s Australian operation is very highly regarded by Subaru’s head office as it has played a big part in the company’s global success for decades.
Now the first new Imprezas have arrived in Australia and we were invited to Canberra for a serious of technical presentations, followed by an extensive drive program around the nation’s capital.
New Impreza is a good looking car, being stylish without going over the top - which is exactly the way owners like their Subarus.
The interior is more adventurous than the body, with some interesting shapes that neatly highlight the large dials and the screen used in the infotainment system. Quality soft-feel materials are used throughout the interior and give this Japanese machine an upmarket feel similar to that in expensive European cars.
The added rigidity the all-new platform gives to the Impreza’s body was evident in the way the cars handled at the limit.
Like its predecessors, new Subaru Impreza comes as a five-door hatchback that’s almost station wagon in its shape and carrying ability. Indeed, we would have preferred it to be even more wagon in the rear as that shape has proven popular for many generations of Subaru in this country.
There’s also a four-door Impreza sedan, this time with a semi-sporty look to its tail, achieved by having a neat visual kick-up in the rear quarters, and an unobtrusive spoiler at the rear of the boot. Sedan sales are expected to make up about 25 per cent of Australian sales.
Next to be built on the all-new Subaru platform will be the XV crossover wagon, which will arrive in Australia midway through 2017. This will provide a neat middle ground for buyers between the Impreza hatch/wagon and the full-on Forester SUV.
Though the new Impreza is the same length as the now superseded model it’s slightly wider and sits on a longer wheelbase. It has extra space in the rear seats and can hold four adults in comfort thanks to extra legroom, headroom and width. Four and a child in the centre will work well.
There are four different models: Impreza 2.0i comes with Apple CarPlay and Google Android Auto connectivity. It rides on 17-inch alloy wheels.
Impreza 2.0i-L adds an 8.0-inch touchscreen, premium cloth trim, Leather accented steering wheel and gear shift, dual-zone automatic air conditioning, upgraded Multi-Function Display EyeSight driver assist, front foglights with integrated Daytime Running Lights (DRL)
Impreza 2.0i-Premium adds (to 2.0i-L specification): electric sunroof, satellite navigation powered by TomTom
Impreza 2.0i-S adds (to 2.0i-Premium specification): 18-inch wheels, leather trim, powered driver’s seat, active torque vectoring, automatic lights and wipers, heated front seat and heated door mirrors. Safety features on this model include lane-change assist, cross-traffic alert and blind-spot monitoring.
Power for all four models comes from a heavily modified version of the familiar Subaru 2.0-litre flat-four ‘boxer’ unit. It’s naturally aspirated and produces 115 kW of power and 196 Nm of torque at 4000 revs.
While the peak torque figure is at relatively high revs there’s good pulling power from about 2000 rpm. Subaru’s expertise in CVT transmissions is impressive and during our drive program we found it worked well to keep the engine is at the best revs for the road conditions and the driver’s desires.
The CVT has six pre-set ratios that can be used manually via steering wheel paddles to give a sporting driver added control.
The company’s EyeSight safety system, which monitors what’s happening in front of the car by way of stereo cameras, has been further refined and will be standard fitment in all but the lowest cost Impreza model.
During our Australian drive program we felt EyeSight still has a little way to go, it didn’t always spot the car crossing double centre lines and the roughish road edges sometimes confused it. Nevertheless it’s a worthwhile system that will save an increasing number of lives as it is further developed.
Our initial testing was done on sort-of-racetrack conditions on a closed circuit at the Isu Cycling Center in Japan earlier this year. The added rigidity the all-new platform gives to the Impreza’s body was evident in the way the cars handled at the limit.
Australian road testing out of Canberra again showed handling is very good on the standard version of the Impreza; even better on the upmarket variant due to the installation of torque vectoring. This electronically monitors the Impreza’s body attitude in bends, changes engine settings and brakes the appropriate wheel to further improve cornering ability and safety.
The suspension soaked up bumps well and gave us a relaxed comfortable ride. The topline Premium model was firmer in its ride due to the larger (18-inch) wheels and lower profile tyres. Perhaps test the two back to back from your local Subaru dealer if your driving involves a lot of rough and ready Australian backroads.
Steering feel is good and the cars certainly tell the driver exactly what is going on, a real pleasure on extended country driving on interesting roads.
All-new Subaru Impreza for 2017 is an impressive piece of automotive engineering. The new platform takes a very European route in providing a stiff ‘chassis’ that provides safety and security. Styling is likely to remain timeless and the traditional high resale value the car carries downunder looking like continuing for many years, perhaps decades, into the future.
2.0i sedan - $22,400
2.0i hatch - $22,600
2.0i-L sedan - $24,490
2.0i-L hatch - $24,690
2.0i Premium sedan - $26,290
2.0i Premium hatch - $26,490
2.0i-S sedan - $28,990
2.0i-S hatch - $29,190