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The all-new Subaru Impreza isn't just the all-new Subaru Impreza, it's the dawn of an all-new Subaru.
That's because under that new metal is an even newer platform, and one that will underpin just about every new Subaru for decades to come. And that's not all; under the bonnet there's been a new focus on refinement while inside there's been a noticeable shift towards a tech-heavy and 'premium' feel cabin.
And that's especially true of the 2.0i Premium we've tested here, which sits above the 2.0i and 2.0i-L and below only the top-spec 2.0i-S in the Impreza line-up.
The keen eyed among you will notice there's no enticing WRX in that model range, with the 2018 version of the go-fast Subaru yet to arrive in Oz. And when it does, it will still be riding on the old platform - though one that's had its dynamics "optimised", whatever that means.
In the meantime, though, the 2.0i Premium might just be the pick of the Impreza bunch.
|Subaru Impreza 2017: 2.0P PREMIUM (AWD)|
|Fuel Type||Regular Unleaded Petrol|
This all-new Impreza has been doing big things for Subaru, with more than a 1000 people a month taking one home since it launched. That's almost enough for it to take the title of the brand's best-selling model. Almost, but not quite. But still, it's pretty impressive.
But crucially, they haven't been taking home this sedan. The hatchback version has so far proven about twice as popular, despite being slightly more expensive. But having spent a week with the 2.0i Premium, it's hard to immediately understand why.
For one, we think it looks pretty damn good. There's a definite attempt at Euro style here, with the flat and wide grille, the sharp body creases and the vaguely coupe-style roof line that fades into the squared off boot.
But it is inside the cabin where the biggest strides have been made, with most of the plastic chintziness replaced with a well laid out, classy interior, even with the cloth seats. Most of the materials, including the thick-stitched dash covering, have a quality feel to the touch and the twin-screen set-up (with a smaller screen housed above the main, 8.0-inch touchscreen) is stylish and practical.
But this new platform is designed to create more interior space, helped along by reshaping parts of the interior fit-out, like the air-con ducting and rear door trims, and it does feel spacious, especially in the back, with Subaru claiming an increase in hip, shoulder and elbow room.
Believe it or not, there's actually more boot space in the sedan (at least with the rear seats in place), with 460 litres versus 345 litres. But Subaru doesn't quote a seat-down number, as the partition above is fixed in place, limiting floor-to-ceiling space even with the rear seat folded down.
Elsewhere, up-front passengers share two cupholders, and there's room in every door for bottles. There are two ISOFIX attachment points, one in each window seat in the back.
The $26,290 Premium's standard feature pantry is actually pretty well stocked. Outside, the alloys are 17-inches, and you'll find fog lights with DRLs at the front, privacy glass at the rear and a sizeable sunroof up top.
Inside, the Apple CarPlay and Android Auto-equipped touchscreen is 8.0-inches, and you'll find dual-zone climate control, sat nav, a leather trimmed wheel and gear shift and proximity unlocking with push-button start.
Sure, the seats are cloth, but they feel pretty good, and they're nice and comfortable, but more than that, there's a reassuring quality to the interior fit out, like it'll stand the test of time.
Under the bonnet is an updated take on a familiar favourite for Subaru, a naturally aspirated 2.0-litre 'boxer' engine - the only engine available anywhere in the range - that's paired with the one transmission on offer, a CVT auto, and Subaru's all-wheel drive system.
The 2.0-litre unit will produce 115kW at 6000rpm and 196Nm at 4000rpm, and while Subaru isn't quoting an official 0-100km/h time, don't expect it to be breaking any land speed records.
Which brings us to the only real disappointment in this new Impreza range, and that is that the steering, suspension and chassis feel capable of so much more than the low-output engine and whirring transmission can produce.
Official claimed fuel use is pegged at 7.2L/100km on the combined cycle, making the Premium one of the thirstiest models in the Impreza range (the cheaper variants sip 6.6 litres). Emissions are a claimed 163g/km of C02.
Subaru has done some great things with this new platform, and with the new Impreza. It is composed over rough and choppy road surfaces, and quiet in the cabin when you're not too heavy on the throttle. But more than that, it feels perky and engaged, and is far more fun that you might expect to throw into a corner.
While the Premium feels potent enough off the line, the power fades as you set the speedometer climbing.
The downside, though, is an engine and gearbox combination that can't quite keep up. While the Premium feels potent enough off the line, the power fades as you set the speedometer climbing, a sensation that's not helped by the whining CVT that fails to transform noise into power.
Now none of that'll bother you in the slightest if you intend on keeping the Impreza in the city, where it will happily pounce to from stop to stop, and gearbox aside, I really like the way this car drives, and it feels plenty dynamic and responsive.
In fact, it feels like it could handle a lot more oomph. Which is good news for future Subarus, including those with the letters W R and X stamped on the boot, despite the next one missing out on this model's platform update.
3 years / unlimited km warranty
ANCAP Safety Rating
Every single Impreza scores a fairly solid standard safety package that consists of seven airbags (dual front, dual front-side, dual curtain and a driver's knee airbag), along with a reversing camera, tyre pressure monitoring, cruise control and the usual suite of traction and dynamic systems.
Only the top-spec model gets blind spot monitoring, lane change assist and rear cross-traffic alert.
But shelling out for the Premium model adds the best of Subaru's 'EyeSight' stuff, which is the Japanese brand's AEB system that warns you of an impending collision, before automatically applying the brakes if you don't react. Only the top-spec model gets blind spot monitoring, lane change assist and rear cross-traffic alert.
The Impreza will require a trip to the service centre every 12 months or 12,500km, with costs capped at $1298.19 for the first three years.
Subaru has invested heavily in this all-new Impreza, and the results are pretty Impreza-ive (we're truly sorry about that... ). It might not be perfect where its drivetrain is concerned, but the overall package paints a plenty rosy picture of Subaru's future.
|2.0i (AWD)||2.0L, ULP, CVT AUTO||$18,993 – 21,990||2017 SUBARU IMPREZA 2017 2.0i (AWD) Pricing and Specs|
|2.0i Premium (AWD)||2.0L, ULP, CVT AUTO||$24,500 – 24,990||2017 SUBARU IMPREZA 2017 2.0i Premium (AWD) Pricing and Specs|
|2.0i-L (AWD)||2.0L, ULP, CVT AUTO||$21,990 – 25,888||2017 SUBARU IMPREZA 2017 2.0i-L (AWD) Pricing and Specs|
|2.0i-S (AWD)||2.0L, ULP, CVT AUTO||$23,987 – 28,990||2017 SUBARU IMPREZA 2017 2.0i-S (AWD) Pricing and Specs|
|Price and features||7|
|Engine & trans||7|