WHEN it comes to sporty all-wheel-drive hatchbacks and sedans, Subaru pretty much has the market cornered. Aside from the recently announced 2018 WRX and WRX STi, buyers can sink their teeth into the new look Impreza sedan and hatch.
We put two versions of the hatchback through their paces, test driving the 2.0i-L and 2.0i-S, with both coming up trumps for the new look interiors, bigger cabin space, the bucket load of standard features and significantly improved technology.
For the record, the range also consists of a 2.0i base model, and the 2.0i Premium, which sits between the L and the S, with the S being the pinnacle sports model. Confused yet? You’ll get used to it. It’s the structure for other new Subaru models, including the XV so it’s going to become somewhat of a brand standard.
The Impreza is available as a sedan or hatch variant, but in our case we’re just testing the hatches here. There is a downside to the sedan, in that you can’t fit a tow bar to it, but the hatch is perfectly capable of accommodating one. There is also no manual option.
What you do get is plenty, in either the L or S model variant. Powered by Subaru’s direct injection 2.0-litre boxer engine, all models across the range get a CVT gearbox, smart key with push button start and a reversing camera. The 2.0i-L also gains an 8-inch LCD infotainment system and dual zone climate control.
Of more significance though is the addition of Subaru’s incredible Eyesight driver assist technology, the industry benchmark in safety systems to help drivers in traffic and accident situations. Now in its third generation the technology delivers radar cruise control, and allows the car to automatically brake if you don’t in response to a dangerous situation on the road.
While it still has the high quality cloth seats of the base 2.0i model on board, the 2.0i-L does get a leather steering wheel and gear knob, front fog lights, a six speaker sound system, 17-inch alloy wheels and a chrome grille.
What it doesn’t get as standard is SatNav or an electric sunroof. You’ll need to kick up to the 2.0i Premium or the 2.0i-S for those. But the 2.0i-S gets a whole lot more to boot, including leather accented seats, an 8-way powered driver’s seat, side sill spoilers, aluminium pedals, and LED steering responsive headlights. Eyesight is standard across the range bar the base model.
But wait, there’s more still in the 2.0i-S. You’ll also get auto lights and wipers, and Subaru’s vision assist package – which includes blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert and lane change assist. There’s also 18-inch alloy sports wheels and chrome door handles.
The new Impreza is nice to drive in both variants we tested, in fact from a comfort and features perspective it’s up there with the best in the small car space, but we did find the 115kW engine, which pushes out 196Nm of torque, to be quite revvy and noisy.
Subaru has done a great job making it quiet in terms of inbound road noise, but the engine response is sluggish most of the time. You probably won’t notice the road noise over the whine of the CVT gearbox anyway, as it’s definitely not the 2.0-litre boxer’s best friend either.
It does come with AWD as standard, and we love this as a feature. Does it help the cause in terms of strain on the engine and gearbox, probably not. But it is nice to know that all four wheels are driving the car, and adding that little bit extra to driver safety and manoeuvrability.
It’s also thirsty, for a small car. Subaru claims a combined fuel economy of 6.6l/100km but we couldn’t even get close to that. We managed a 7.8l/100km in the 2.0i-L over the week we tested it, and an 8.4l/100km in the 2.0i-S during its test period.
The Impreza has a 50 litre fuel tank across the model range, and 395 litres of boot space, which when the 60:40 split fold rear seats are down, grows to an impressive 795 litres. Built on the new Subaru Global Platform, designed to improve rigidity and responsiveness in the chassis, it comes with a three year, unlimited kilometre warranty.
Prices for the 2017 Subaru Impreza start at $22,600 (plus on-roads), with the 2.0i-L hatch on the market at $24,690, while the 2.0i-S hits the road at $29,190.
It comes in a range of colours including Crystal White Pearl, Ice Silver Metallic, Pure Red (our 2.0i-L test car), Quartz Blue Pearl, Venetian Red Pearl, Dark Blue Pearl, Dark Grey Metallic and Crystal Black Silica (our 2.0i-S test car).
Our road test vehicles were provided by Subaru Australia. To find out more about the 2017 Subaru Impreza 2.0-L and 2.0-S, contact your local Subaru dealer.
Road Test: 2017 Subaru Impreza 2.0-L and 2.0-S
Pros – technology aplenty; upgraded interior, tonnes of standard features.
Cons – revvy lacklustre engine; average gearbox; thirsty.