Review: 2017 Subaru Impreza 2.0i-S

Review: 2017 Subaru Impreza 2.0i-S
 

Thomas Falkiner answers your most pressing questions about the all-new Subaru Impreza

Oh boy — a new Subaru Impreza! It must be fast, right?

Wrong. While the words “Subaru” and “Impreza” might conjure up images of burning tyres and steely Vin Diesel stares, this particular model is about as lairy as your mom’s Toyota Corolla. Well, at least for the time being anyway because Subaru is yet to release their hot WRX and STI models in fifth-generation Impreza guise.

So for now we’re stuck with a naturally aspirated 2.0-litre engine and, man, is it ever anaemic. Sending what meagre power it does muster through a CVT gearbox and the firm’s famed all-wheel-drive system doesn’t help matters either. Slow off the line, it’s also lazy through the “gears,” which makes every-day driving tasks like overtaking other cars something of a bottom-clenching chore.

Damn, that’s deeply disappointing considering Subaru’s rally heritage. Does it make up for this with handling?

Strange that you bring this up because I thought the new Subaru Impreza was particularly pleasant to throw around the streets at speed. Desperate to get home one night after overdosing on an evil chili sauce, I discovered that it shrugged off hard cornering thanks to its mechanical grip and composed, surprisingly roll-resistant body.

The chassis felt crisp and responsive and capable of handling more power — great news for when the aforementioned WRX and STI do arrive on the scene. I was also impressed with the steering. Using the same ratio as the BRZ, it’s not only quick to react but feels good between your fingers. You get a fine sense of how the car is engaging with the asphalt.

My friend has an old Impreza and its interior is, to be honest, pretty rubbish. This seems to be the car’s downfall. Has it been fixed?

I have to agree with you there. The previous generation cars were ugly tombs of flimsy switchgear and brittle Japanese plastics. I’m happy to report, however, that things have finally changed for the better. Not only has the cabin grown in length and width but also the materials used are considerably more premium. From the soft-touch dashboard to those French-seamed leather seats, the new Impreza no longer has to hang its head in shame when lined up next to its rivals.

Subaru has — in the case of the mid-range 2.0i-S model — thrown in value-adds such as seat heaters, a reversing camera, cruise control, blind-spot monitoring and an eight-inch touchscreen infotainment system. The latter comes loaded with TomTom satellite navigation, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

It seems that performance has taken a backseat to luxury here. Would you say the new Impreza excels as a cruiser?

Out on the highway and once up to speed, the Impreza is a great gobbler of the long-distance mile. Refinement is top notch — there’s more sound-deadening material built into this model – with very little wind or road noise to vex your senses, even when travelling above the legal limit.

The ride quality is equally impressive: there’s a suppleness to the way it smooths over pimply road surfaces that wouldn’t be out of place in cars a class above it. Add in the grip and poise of the all-wheel-drive system and you get a machine that gets you to your destination no matter how gnarly the conditions. I just wish it had a more meaty motor to better dispatch with overtaking manoeuvres.

So it’s worth getting then, yeah?

If you’re specifically looking for a comfortable and practical all-wheel-drive sedan, then the new Subaru Impreza is a no-brainer. Nothing else comes close in terms of price. Not only that, but it also comes loaded with a long and generous list of standard features that shoot it high up the Value-O-Metre. However, if you’re interested in straight-line performance and snappy acceleration times then I’d recommend that you shop elsewhere — at least until the WRX rolls into town. – Thomas Falkiner