2012-2016 Subaru Impreza Review
By James Whitbourn, with WhichCar staff
Priced From $21,400Information
What stands out?Expand Section
What might bug me?Expand Section
Driving under 80km/h on the space-saver spare tyre until you can fix your full-sized flat.
What body styles are there?Expand Section
The Impreza drives all four wheels, and it is classed as a small car, lower priced.
What features do all versions have?Expand Section
Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, with a touchscreen interface (6.2 inches on the less costly models), a voice command function, and audio controls on the steering wheel.
An automatic stop/start system, which saves fuel by shutting off the engine when you stop, and restarting it when you press the accelerator to drive away.
Hill-start assist, which operates the brakes automatically to make take-offs on hills easier.
Headlights that turn off when the car is switched off.
All-wheel-drive, which improves drive and stability on slippery surfaces.
Aluminium alloy wheels (and a space-saver steel spare wheel).
Seven airbags: two directly in front of the driver and front passenger; one alongside each front occupant to protect the upper body; a curtain airbag on each side covering the front and rear side-windows; and a knee protection airbag for the driver.
Electronic stability control, which can help the driver to control a skidding car. All new cars must have this feature.
Every Subaru Impreza carries a three-year, unlimited kilometre warranty.
Which engine uses least fuel, and why wouldn't I choose it?Expand Section
With the optional six-speed manual transmission it consumes 7.1 litres/100km, but you can make more of the engine’s modest power output.
The Impreza’s engine differs from every other small-car four-cylinder in that it lies flat across the engine bay rather than standing up vertically. This places the weight of the engine lower in the car, which helps it steer more responsively.
What key features do I get if I spend more?Expand Section
Spend more again for the 2.0i-S and the driver’s seat is power-adjustable. There is a bigger, 7.0-inch touchscreen, and satellite navigation. Dual-zone air-conditioning allows different temperatures for each side of the cabin, and the S has a powered sunroof.
Other changes include side spoilers on the body, a boot lip spoiler on the sedan, and control pedals finished in aluminium with rubber grip pads, for a sporty look and feel. An increase in the wheel size, from 16 inches to 17 inches and with tyres slightly lower in profile, is also mainly a cosmetic change.
Does any upgrade have a down side?Expand Section
You might slide around more on the leather seats than on the more grippy cloth versions.
Choosing the best-equipped version, the 2.0i-S, means you forgo a choice of transmission – it is CVT auto only.
Seven metallic and pearl colours are available, and they come at no additional cost. One of those colours, Jasmine Green Metallic, is only available on the 2.0i-S.
How comfortable is it?Expand Section
The Impreza is among the quietest small cars. Its cabin is well insulated from outside noises, such as the noise of the suspension working, and the sound of the tyres rolling over coarse road surfaces. The only noticeable sound at highway speeds is airstream rustle around the large, door-mounted side mirrors.
The cabin is made from good plastics and textiles, which fit together well. That brings an air of quality to the driving experience that elevates the Subaru above some Japanese competitors.
Supportive standard seats stay comfortable for drives of up to two hours, and the driving position is easily tailored thanks to the standard tilt and telescopic adjustable steering column. The eight-way power-adjustable driver’s seat in the 2.0i-S makes it even easier to get comfortable behind the wheel.
What about safety?Expand Section
The Impreza 2.0i receives the lesser rating of Very Good but the key difference here is its offering a reversing camera as an option rather than standard. Choose that option and it too would be rated Excellent.
Automatic emergency braking is not offered on an Impreza.
The forward location of the Impreza’s A-pillars (those either side of the windscreen) allows good vision for tight corners and roundabouts, increasing primary safety. The door-mounted exterior mirrors aid vision in the same driving conditions.
The Australasian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP) awarded the Subaru Impreza a five-star rating for safety, its maximum.
I like driving - will I enjoy this car?Expand Section
The electrically assisted power steering is weighted just right, and the car turns into corners quite responsively. The Impreza’s body doesn’t lean much when cornering – the flat layout of the boxer four-cylinder is partly responsible for this quality – which adds to the feeling of good handling.
However, for those who sometimes drive with enthusiasm, the Impreza becomes less impressive. Vigorous driving can upset the usually composed suspension, and expose the moderate level of cornering grip.
The engine is a weak link in driver enjoyment of the Impreza. It is very smooth and quiet, and feels good in normal driving. But on hilly roads, or when asked to accelerate the car quickly, it lacks the ability to respond decisively.
The continuously variable automatic transmission can be manually operated using gear-shift paddles behind the steering wheel, which makes it more fun than some conventional automatics.
How is life in the rear seats?Expand Section
The seat can carry three passengers, with lap and sash belts for all.
How is it for carrying stuff?Expand Section
However, the hatchback, with its 40/60 seatbacks folded, offers 771 litres of space when loaded to the window line, or 1230 litres loaded to the roof. The sedan has a big boot, but the hatch body style is more versatile and ultimately offers greater cargo volume.
Where is it made?Expand Section
What might I miss that similar cars have?Expand Section
Some small cars, among them the Golf and the Mazda3, offer low-speed automatic emergency braking on most models, at least as an option. A sensor detects obstacles in front of the car – typically another car that has slowed suddenly – and a computer applies the brakes if it concludes that a collision is imminent.
The Renault Megane and Hyundai Elantra and i30 offer five-year warranties, and the Kia Cerato is warrantied for seven years.
Another small car worth considering is the Honda Civic.
I like this car, but I can't choose which version. Can you help?Expand Section
When did Subaru update this Impreza?Expand Section
An all-new, fifth-generation Impreza arrived in December 2016 for the 2017 model year. It brought better steering and cornering, better economy and a little more power from direct petrol injection, a bigger and much nicer cabin, and automatic braking via Subaru’s EyeSight system.
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