Subaru’s fourth generation Impreza, in sedan or hatchback form, presents well.
The front, with its hexagonal grille and hawk-eye headlights, sets the tone for a modern sporty small sedan/hatch, The flanks of the car are more functional than fashionable, but the styling is rescued at the rear, especially in the hatch, with a neat looking array of lights and neat spoiler.
Explore the 2012 Subaru Impreza range
Subaru’s designers have managed to come up with an aerodynamic shape, with a 0.31 (sedan), 0.33 (hatch) co-efficient of drag. Helping this slippery shape are foglights that aid air flow along the car’s flanks, a large aero enhancing undertray and mudguards and flaps that trim the air ahead of the rear wheels.
Cabin soft furnishings are upmarket, including soft-touch dashboard surrounds and seat covers. Homely, yet with the formality of a maiden aunt’s sitting room.
Comfy seating for five is achieved by there being more shoulder width and rear seat leg room than in the previous model. As is the case with almost all cars it’s better if three of the five are of the child variety, but there good space for a pair of adults back there.
Storage areas include a glovebox that can take the equivalent of 16 compact discs and a centre tray big enough for nine CDs, while the sliding console box between the front seats in the 2.0i-L and 2.0i-S has capacity for 13 CDs, USB and AUX terminals, and 12-volt power.
The golfer is under no handicap with the Impreza’s 340-litre hatch cargo area capable of carrying three golf bags, while the sedan’s 460-litre boot can fit four. The hatch security blind can be stored neatly out of the way under the cargo area floor.
In front of the console is a dual drink holder, while the front door pockets also have space for a bottle. In the back, the centre armrest has dual drink holders.
A new generation four-cylinder boxer engine weighs in with its own fuel efficiencies. Putting out 110 kW of power at 6200 rpm and 196 Nm of torque at 4200 rpm, the long-stroke design delivers a 10 per cent improvement in grunt. The new Dual Active Valve Control System boosts performance and efficiency. Euro 5 compliance makes this the cleanest petrol engine in the Subaru stable.
The result is fuel consumption claims of 7.1 litres per hundred kilometres (manual) and 6.8 litres (CVT) on the combined urban / highway cycle. We used 7.4 litres per hundred kilometres on mixed town and motorway driving in the CVT hatch. So the claims are pretty close to reality, which isn’t always the case.
A multi-function display in the Impreza 2.0i includes a fuel efficiency indicator that includes current and average efficiency and distance travelled. Linked to Auto Start-Stop, it shows length of time the engine is stopped and cumulative time stopped. If the driver prefers, he or she can blank it out.
The premium MFD in Impreza 2.0i-L and 2.0i-S is straight off the computer game shelf, displaying screens to monitor the fuel efficiency of the driver’s style. At journey’s end, there’s an on-screen evaluation of their day’s driving, comparing it with a previous drive.
The MFD is linked to Auto Start-Stop to show engine stop time and the amount of fuel conserved while stopped. Of course, the less fuel is used the fewer emissions are emitted by the Subaru.The premium MFD also shows reverse camera images.
It is inevitable that somebody has to pay the piper for these lessons in responsible ‘drinking’ and that is the driver who likes responsive power delivery in a car. The Impreza manual can be coaxed to do better, the CVT gives the driver good control over by way of preset ratios. Our choice would be the manual, then again we do fall into the keen-driver category.
A major contributor to the new Subaru Impreza’s frugality is an Auto Start-Stop system that stops the engine when the vehicle is stationary, such as at traffic lights. In CVT vehicles the engine stops 0.5 seconds after the car halts. When the brake is released, the engine starts after 0.35 seconds. In the six-speed manual Imprecate restarts after the clutch pedal is pressed.
Studies have shown that cars may be stopped up to 30 per cent of travel time, particularly in rush hour, so savings can be considerable. It takes a while to get used to the fact that the engine has appeared to have stalled, but drivers who stick with the system rather than switching if off, report they do get used to the feeling.
Subaru has long prided itself on occupant safety so it comes as no surprise that the latest generation has won a five-star rating from the Australasian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP). It has an Acceptable rating for pedestrian safety from the same organisation. Every Impreza model has seven airbags, including a driver’s knee airbag, while Impreza 2.0i-L and 2.0i-S run to a reversing camera.