WHEN you hear the name Subaru Impreza, it conjures up images of 90s and 2000s world rally cars, with blue paint and gold rims. You think of Colin McRae and his almost artistic ability to dance his way through opposite lock in those very same vehicles.
And finally, you think of the performance editions of the humble Impreza family car, the WRX and WRX STi. We’re not out driving the latter though, those are a standalone thing these days, instead our journey finds us in the 2020 Subaru Impreza 2.0i-S.
The range-topping all-wheel drive hatch is the pinnacle of a rather large model range, that also includes sedan versions of its four specification levels, making for eight individual options to choose from.
Draped in Quartz Blue Pearl, the Subaru Impreza looks a little clinical in its design. Like many brands in this space, the Japanese car maker seems to be struggling to make a an affordable hatch that stands out from the crowd. It’s a bit same-same.
The latest generation 2.0-litre boxer four banger under the hood has also undergone an overhaul, with an extensive redesign bringing with it, direct fuel injection. It supplies fuel, well directly, to each cylinder at high pressure.
This allows the engine to use less fuel while delivering more power. But it’s also meant that the once constantly raspy Impreza power plant is now quieter than it was before, unless of course you’ve asked it to move along, quickly.
Thanks to the added bonus of start/stop technology, which aims to save fuel in the city or when you’re stuck in traffic, you can also achieve a claimed 7.0-litres/100km. Official testing gave us an average of 9.7-litres/100km.
Offering 115kW of power and 195Nm or torque, the Subaru engine does lack a little oomph, and there’s a fair bit of lag between pumping the go pedal and movement occurring.
The 2.0-litre power plant is teamed with a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT), the only option across the entire range. When you accelerate hard, it uses artificial ratio steps to mimic the feel of a 7-speed conventional automatic.
It okay, but still doesn’t avoid the irritating engine squealing under moderate to hard acceleration that seems to be the curse of all CVT transmissions. Importantly though, the upsides outweigh the downsides.
Driving the Impreza feels poised and solid from behind the wheel. Steering response is superb into bends. While it can feel a little whale like at times, grip levels are high, and the Yokohama rubber keeps you planted on the road.
Inside the Impreza is, dare we say it, impressive (that almost feels like a dad joke). The quality of the finishes are outstanding, and while some bits are designed for durability, you’ll be hard-pressed to find any scratchy plastic, no matter how much you look.
Everything looks and feels good. There’s also acres of space, and five adults should be able to sit in the Impreza in total comfort. The boot is slightly bigger than before too, and has a more usefully-shaped aperture, to make loading bulky items easier.
It also comes with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, intuitive touchscreens with a great sound system, satellite navigation, seven SRS airbags, touch to unlock and lock, voice commands, and an electronic handbrake with auto vehicle hold.
The driver gets an 8-way power seat with dual memory, and there’s heated front seats, dual zone climate control, paddle gear shifters, sports pedals, smart key and push-start ignition, tyre pressure monitoring and steering responsive headlights.
And if all that wasn’t enough, the Subaru Impreza 2.0i-S is filled to the brim with safety technology, including the car maker’s exceptional EyeSight driver assistance package, which includes vision assist.
It also scores lane keep assist, lane sway warning, lead vehicle start alert, pre-collision brake assist, a pre-collision braking system, pre-collision throttle management and loads more. Subaru definitely has safety nailed, but it does need a little fine tuning.
For example, we found that the lane keep assist and lane departure warning systems were a little too intrusive. Even actual lane changes on the motorway were a bit of a fight as the car tried to keep us in the current lane, even with the indicator on.
That aside, the Subaru Impreza is one of the most technologically advanced cars on the road, from a company renowned for pushing the safety envelope in new and innovating ways. It’s an impressive small car, even if it does feel a little plain to look at.
Subaru wants to leverage its robust reliability, its symmetrical all-wheel-drive know-how and the EyeSight safety tech as key selling points. And if you don’t need it to have instant get up and go, then it could be the car for you.
The 2020 Subaru Impreza 2.0i-S is available in an array of colours, including Crystal White Pearl, Ice Silver Metallic, Pure Red, Quartz Blue Pearl, Dark Blue Pearl, Magnetite Grey Pearl and Crystal Black Silica.
Our test vehicle was provided by Subaru Australia. To find out more about the 2020 Subaru Impreza 2.0i-S, contact your local Subaru dealer.