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Subaru Impreza 2.0i-S hatch 2017 review

EXPERT RATING
7
Peter Anderson road tests and reviews the new Subaru Impreza 2.0i-S 2017 hatch with specs, fuel consumption and verdict.

Peter Anderson road tests and reviews the new Subaru Impreza 2.0i-S 2017 hatch with specs, fuel consumption and verdict.

It's no secret that I have, on occasion, been a little unkind to the Subaru Impreza. Since giving up my beloved MY2000 WRX, nothing short of complete perfection was acceptable.

Okay, maybe not complete perfection, but a combination of rose-coloured glasses (apart from the seats, that car had a terrible interior, and seemed to have been built by people wearing blindfolds) and a succession of awesome show cars, followed by less than awesome Imprezas, engendered a long period of apathy in my soul.

But then, late in 2016, Subaru gave us our Christmas wish - a cool Impreza. New inside and out, the fresh small Subie suddenly looks like a contender rather than a slightly oddball alternative for people who like their cars weird looking.

Does it represent good value for the price? What features does it come with?

The 2.0i-S sits right at the top of the Impreza range, weighing in at $29,190, $200 more than the sedan. The range itself runs from the 2.0i, 2.0i-L, Premium and then the i-S, from $22,400 and up.

The i-S is loaded up with 18-inch alloys, a six speaker stereo, dual-zone climate control, a comprehensive safety package including EyeSight, reversing camera, keyless entry and start, active cruise control, electric driver's seat, heated front seats, partial leather interior, sat nav, active LED headlights, auto wipers and headlights, sports pedals and a sunroof.

While the new Impreza isn't going to go down as a design classic, it's certainly a big jump as far as presentation goes.

There are no options available and you can choose any of the eight colours available without having to stump up a penny extra.

The big screen is bright and clear and runs Subaru's latest version of Starlink. Past attempts were brave but ultimately ill-fated, with so-so software backed by ho-hum hardware. The ho-hum hardware is still there because you really need to stab the screen to get a response, but it looks a heck of a lot better and has both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto as well as a few thoughtful features built-in.

How practical is the space inside?

Front seat passengers score two cupholders, a situation repeated for back seat passengers bringing the total to four. The front doors each have a bottle holder but the rear doors' receptacles are probably not suitable for anything over about 600ml.

Space is good front and rear for four passengers and a fifth adult would probably not be too unhappy for short trips. The boot will contain 345 litres with the seats in place (that's up 41 litres from the old car). The seats are a 60/40 split and you can also hide some stuff under the boot's false floor.

Special mention should be made of the four USB ports, two under the air-con controls and a further two in central console for charging only.

Is there anything interesting about its design?

While the new Impreza isn't going to go down as a design classic, it's certainly a big jump as far as presentation goes. The old one was okay from some angles but from others it was bizarre, gawky and awkward.

The sheetmetal is now much closer to where it should have been in the first place, the new body a far more coherent design with a more effective masking of Subaru's traditional long front overhang.

Inside is better than any contemporary Subaru, Liberty included.

The paint is top-notch (you can always tell when I've had to wash a car before taking photos) and panel gaps are even and tight.

Inside is better than any contemporary Subaru, Liberty included. The dash isn't just a slab of plastic, but has actually been designed, with a run of stitching and nice twist effect in front of the passenger. The various elements fit together well, including the secondary information display sitting up high under the windscreen that no longer looks aftermarket. The 8.0-inch media touchscreen is within easy reach and, again, looks like it belongs.

The cabin is bigger in almost every direction, the car sits lower and just feels like a quality place to be.

Initially I arced up when I couldn't see rear air vents for the passengers but they're under the driver and passenger seats. Nice.

What are the key stats for the engine and transmission?

Subaru's horizontally-opposed 'flat' four soldiers on in the Impreza (and thank goodness for that) and here is presented in naturally aspirated 2.0-litre form. Much work has been done between models, outputs are now 115kW/196Nm from the 7kg lighter unit.

The continuously variable transmission (CVT) has made a return, too, but is much improved with the addition of a torque converter to make it feel more like a traditional automatic. As with previous iterations, there are seven 'gears' in manual mode.

The CVT-only 2.0i-S's 0-100km/h time of 10.1 seconds is, shall we say, leisurely.

How much fuel does it consume?

Subaru claims 7.2L/100km for the i-S (smaller-wheeled versions come in at 6.6L/100km) and according to the car, we managed 9.4L/100km, which isn't bad as it included messing about for a photo shoot and being stuck in several traffic jams.

What's it like to drive?

The Impreza is built on a new platform, which means that it will be re-used underneath other Subarus and has the knock-on effect of having more money spent on it ($1bn, according to Subaru). The company says the new car is 70 per cent stiffer than the old car and claims it's quieter and a better handler as a result.

The thrum of the boxer engine is well isolated from the cabin, as is the sound of the CVT.

Well, it's hard to believe this is an Impreza. This new car is so much better than the old one. Refinement is through the roof and the scrubby understeer significantly reduced, even with a front-biased all-wheel drive system.

The thrum of the boxer engine is well isolated from the cabin, as is the sound of the CVT. I thought I could hear it rattling at first until I worked out it was the rear number plate (see? I went looking for things that aren't there anymore).

Only really rough surfaces make their presence felt in the cabin, with just a bit of tyre roar over nasty surfaces. All of this adds up to a car that is far more mature and feels rock-solid. And no more shouting yourself hoarse at your passenger, and they at you.

The only let-down is the performance. While the Impreza has never been a fireball, a 0-100km/h time of over ten seconds puts it in with smaller hatchbacks like the Yaris. The response to a foot-to-the-floor is the traditional CVT 'big revs, not much action', and while many buyers won't mind, this is not a car you'd duck out into the fast lane for a cheeky overtake. If you want that, wait for the new WRX.

What safety equipment is fitted? What safety rating?

Standard active and passive safety kit includes seven airbags, ABS, stability and traction controls, and reverse cross traffic alert.

The EyeSight package (standard on all but the entry level) is a camera-based system mounted inside the windscreen. This brings with it lane departure warning, forward collision warning and auto emergency braking. 

Like its installation in the Liberty and entirely unlike the Forester, EyeSight works very well in the Impreza.

This newer version has a higher contrast camera to improve performance in poor conditions, something we found a bit of an issue during heavy rain at night in the Levorg. The new version also recognises brake lights ahead of it while active cruise is in use.

What does it cost to own? What warranty is offered?

Subarus come with a three-year/unlimited km warranty and one year of roadside assist via an arrangement with your local motoring organisation (NRMA, RACV etc.).

The company also offers a two part servicing regime including consumables for the first three years (aka capped price servicing), and then 'transparent pricing' for a further two years, with total coverage for the first five years or 62,500km. Services costs range between $348.30 and $757.81, averaging out at $480 each year. The big services come at 24 months/25,000km ($601) and 48 months/50,000km ($757.81).

Verdict

The new Impreza is a quantum leap for Subaru. Sometimes we forget that they're actually a tiny company.

The billion dollar spend on the new platform appears to be money well spent. The new car feels so much tighter and more planted on the road, and on in the inside you'll have happier passengers.

It's also well-priced, looks good and has that unique selling proposition of all-wheel drive. The Impreza has suddenly gone from weirdo alternative to mainstream contender. That's quite a feat on its own but it also pitches the Impreza straight into contention.

Has the new Impreza put Subaru back on your new car map? Tell us what you think in the comments below.

Pricing Guides

$22,990
Based on 124 cars listed for sale in the last 6 months
Lowest Price
$18,993
Highest Price
$28,990

Range and Specs

VehicleSpecsPrice*
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
EXPERT RATING
7
Peter Anderson
Contributing journalist

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