CURSE the rise of the SUV. Sales of the jacked-up, high-riding hatches and wagons now comfortably dominate Australia’s new-car landscape, and it’s coming at the cost of our once-strong love for traditional passenger vehicles, especially sedans.
Down Under is now a marketplace where small cars, such as Subaru’s Impreza, need to make a big noise to stand out.
Generation G5 of the Impreza, a 2017 Wheels Car of the Year finalist, has introduced the world to the Subaru Global Platform (SGP): a lighter, stiffer all-new modular chassis that will underpin future models, including plug-in hybrids.
COTY testing clearly showed that the SGP is able to reacquaint the driver with something long absent from Subaru’s DNA; a level of dynamic prowess for which the Japanese carmaker was once renowned.
A booted version of the Impreza now joins the Wheels garage as a long-termer. Just like the five-door, the G5 sedan introduces a better-looking design featuring much sharper looks than the dowdy cardigan the previous generation wore. It’s something that will help it stand out in what remains a cut-throat segment in Australia, and one where the Subaru-badged contender snares only one in every 20 sales.
The SGP’s improvements extend to the inside as well, where Holden Commodore-rivalling interior space and comfort mark the Impreza as a genuine cross-shopping alternative to the doomed large sedan.
We’ve already pegged the fitout of our long-termer, the richly equipped 2.0i-S, as the pick of the Impreza litter. This is largely down to the generous equipment list, which includes heated leather seats, LED headlights, a torque-vectoring diff, and stickier 18-inch Yokohama Advan Sport rubber.
It will have a big burden to carry: there’s been a hole in my driveway for a number of years, a space set aside for the 1990s-era bug-eyed Impreza Sportback my wife has always dreamed of, but never owned.
That driver’s DNA is something I’m keen to explore over the coming months, and given Subaru’s renewed interest in rallying in Australia, I’m also keen to extend at least a small part of that testing to gravel surfaces.
What’s welcome most of all, though, is that generous-sized boot. At 460 litres, the sedan’s 115L advantage in luggage capacity over the hatch is bound to come in handy with four children in the brood.
One of the technologies we will be keen to test in our new long-termer is EyeSight, Subaru’s dual-camera system that scans the road ahead and jumps in to slam on the brakes when it thinks the Impreza is about to crash.
We’re not off to a good start, though, with heavy fog blinding EyeSight and forcing a warning on the dash that the system was unavailable.
We would, however, buy shares in Subaru’s windscreen wiper supplier; the wipers work hard to keep the EyeSight cameras clear of any condensation or raindrops.
First published in the September 2017 issue of Wheels Magazine, Australia’s most experienced and most trusted car magazine since 1953.