What stands out?
The comfort, the high-tech safety, and how confident you feel behind the wheel. In this new-generation Impreza, Subaru has built a very practical small hatchback and sedan that can engage someone who appreciates a sporty car. A roomy, well equipped and well finished cabin looks after rear-seat passengers well. Most versions supply sophisticated active safety aids, including auto braking that works in town and out on the highway.
What might bug me?
That you can’t tow a trailer with your new Impreza sedan: its body is not designed to accept a tow-bar. You can tow with an Impreza hatchback, however.
If you like to drive your Impreza quickly through corners, you might wish that the seatbacks had bigger bolsters on each side, to hold you in place better. You might also wish for more precise backrest adjustment than you can get from the ratcheted lever that handles this on all but the 2.0-S (which has powered adjustment).
Driving under 80km/h on the space-saver spare tyre until you can fix your full-sized flat.
What body styles are there?
Five-door hatchback and four-door sedan.
The Impreza drives all four wheels, and it is classed as a small car, lower priced.
What features does every Impreza have?
Cruise control, and air-conditioning that maintains a set temperature. Controls on the steering wheel for operating the cruise control, the audio system and your phone.
A colour touchscreen for controlling cabin functions. An MP3 compatible sound system with a radio, CD player, Bluetooth connectivity for voice and audio streaming, and Aux and USB inputs.
Support for Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, which lets you display some apps from compatible smartphones on the touchscreen and control them from there.
Aluminium alloy wheels, and a space-saver spare wheel. A tyre pressure monitor, which warns you if a tyre is going flat.
All-wheel-drive, which improves traction and stability on slippery surfaces. Automatic transmission.
Hill-start assistance, which controls the brakes to help you take off on uphill slopes.
Electronic stability control, which can help the driver to control a skidding car. All new cars must have this feature.
'Subaru Intelligent (SI) Drive' that lets the driver choose between the efficient I (Intelligent) mode and S (Sport) mode for when quicker throttle response via the CVT auto
Seven airbags, and a reversing camera. (For the placement of airbags, and more on Impreza safety systems, please open the Safety section below)
Every Subaru Impreza carries a five-year, unlimited-kilometre warranty.
Which engine uses least fuel, and why wouldn't I choose it?
The sole engine available with the Subaru Impreza is a 2.0-litre petrol four-cylinder. When teamed with the continuously variable automatic transmission, it uses about 7.0 litres/100km on the official test (city and country combined).
In real-world comparison testing conducted for the January 2017 issue of Wheels magazine, an Impreza 2.0i-L hatch with this engine averaged 9.1 litres/100km. That left it near the middle of the 12 popular small cars reviewed, consuming marginally less fuel than an accompanying Toyota Corolla and five per cent more than a Mazda3 Maxx.
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 – in theory anyway – helps it steer more responsively.
While the engine in this Impreza shares its layout and 2.0-litre capacity with the car it supersedes, it has been redesigned extensively. The most prominent change is a move to direct petrol injection – which supplies fuel directly to each cylinder at high pressure, allowing the engine to use less of it while making more power.
The Impreza can shut down its engine when you are stopped, restarting automatically when you take your foot off the brake pedal to drive away. That saves fuel in the city.
Every Impreza comes with a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT). When you accelerate hard, it uses artificial ratio steps to mimic the feel of a seven-speed conventional automatic – avoiding the irritating engine droning that some CVT cars exhibit.
What key features do I get if I spend more?
The least costly Impreza, the 2.0i, comes with a 6.5-inch central screen and premium cloth seat trim.
Paying more for a 2.0i-L brings you a lot of extra kit, perhaps most importantly Subaru’s EyeSight active safety suite. EyeSight includes adaptive cruise control (which can accelerate and brake to match the speed of a car in front), auto emergency braking that works at city and highway speeds, and a lane departure warning. Lane-keeping assist (which recognises lines on both sides of the lane and helps steer the car between them) was added in September 2017. (For more on these systems and other Impreza safety features, please open the Safety section below.)
The 2.0i-L also has an 8.0-inch touchscreen, and two displays on the instrument panel, controllable from the steering wheel, that can show your EyeSight settings and other helpful stuff. You get leather on the steering wheel and gear lever, and dual-zone climate-control allows individual temperature adjustment for the driver and front passenger. And the exterior mirrors can be power-folded, to keep them out of harm’s way when you’re parked.
Spending more again for an Impreza 2.0-i Premium gets you a powered sunroof and satellite navigation – the latter including the ability to have turn-by-turn instructions shown on the instrument-panel display rather than just on the central screen. Blind-spot monitoring, lane-keeping assistance, reverse autonomous braking, rear cross-traffic alert and front-view parking monitor enhance safety.
The most expensive Impreza, the 2.0i-S, adds luxury, safety, and cornering verve. It has part-leather seat trim, with the power-adjustable driver's seat with memory settings to make it easier to readjust your seat after someone else drives it.
Windscreen wipers operate automatically when it rains. Headlights use very bright and long-lived LEDs, switch on automatically when it’s dark, and swivel to shine into corners. Side-skirts and bare-metal control pedals present a sportier aesthetic. The parking monitor also has a side view that's great for helping to avoid small obstacles or scraping your wheels on the kerb.
And there are wider, grippier tyres on bigger, 18-inch wheels, and a torque-vectoring system that lets the car turn more keenly.
Does any upgrade have a down side?
The bigger, 18-inch, tyres on the 2.0i-S will cost more to replace, and will feel a bit bumper to drive on than the taller-profile tyres on other Imprezas (because their shallower sidewalls leave less air and rubber between you and the road).
Eight colours are available, and choosing a metallic, silica or pearl finish does not add to the price.
How comfortable is the Subaru Impreza?
In a word, very. The new Impreza is roomier inside than the car it replaced, and the cabin is smartly designed and trimmed to a standard much higher than seen in earlier-generation Imprezas.
Tilt and reach adjustment for the steering wheel makes it easy for the driver to get comfortable, even if the seat backrest could use finer adjustment. A chunky steering wheel, leather-bound on most versions, and neat new switchgear imbue the Impreza with a level of class beyond its relatively meagre price point.
Even the 2.0i-L, the least costly Impreza but one, supplies loads of eye-pleasing exposed stitching and a lovely dashboard finish, with two info screens in addition to the big central touchscreen.
Dash-mounted air vents sit high and proud, filtering climate-controlled freshness in typically chilled Subaru fashion.
The ride may feel a little busy at low speeds around town but mostly the Impreza feels smooth and easy to control, handling the bumps silently and insulating you very well from the road and the airstream outside – qualities supported by what Subaru claims is a body much stiffer than the unit it supersedes.
The soothing flat-four engine responds more crisply to the accelerator than those in previous Imprezas and handles city and highway driving without fuss, with help from the bigger ratio spread in its CVT auto transmission.
The Active cruise control and its accompanying EyeSight driver aids work seamlessly, showing the benefits of Subaru’s lengthy development of these systems. All-wheel drive enhances security in poor driving conditions, among other things facilitating smooth take-offs from traffic lights on wet and slippery roads.
What about safety in an Impreza?
The Impreza comes with seven airbags: one each ahead of the driver and front passenger; a knee airbag for the driver; an airbag outside each front occupant at chest level to protect from side impacts; and side-curtain airbags extending past both seat rows at head level.
The mandatory stability control, seatbelt reminders for all seats, seatbelt pre-tensioners on the front and outer rear seats, and a reversing camera, contribute to a secure safety package.
Augmenting this on the Impreza 2.0i-L, 2.0-i Premium and 2.0i-S is Subaru’s EyeSight active safety suite, which brings you Active cruise control, autonomous emergency braking, lane-keeping assist and lane-departure warning among other features.
Based on stereo cameras, the auto braking works at city and highway speeds, warning of an impending collision and braking automatically if you fail to react. Subaru says this third-generation system uses better image sensors that detect hazards – and endangered pedestrians – under a wider range of contrast conditions and at longer range.
Lane departure warning alerts you if you have begun to drift out of your lane on the highway, perhaps through distraction. Lane-keeping assist takes this a step further by recognising the lines on either side of the lane and providing steering assistance to keep the car in the middle of the lane.
There is also a Lead-vehicle start alert, which lets you know when a vehicle ahead of you in a queue has moved on.
The Impreza 2.0i Premium and 2.0i-S improve on this with a Vision assist suite, which uses radar-based sensors to scan behind you. It warns you if you are about to change lanes into the path of an adjacent or overtaking car. And when you reverse out of a driveway or parking space, it alerts you to vehicles crossing your path to the rear. Should you get too close, reverse autonomous emergency braking will bring the car to a stop.
The Australasian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP) awarded the Impreza a five-star rating for safety, its maximum, in December 2016.
I like driving - will I enjoy this car?
Yes you will, and even if you like driving quite hard. The Impreza feels poised and fluid from behind the wheel, nosing crisply into bends with fine support at the rear from its sophisticated double-wishbone suspension. Grip levels are high, and the more you ask of the car the more you respect its abilities.
The supple damping does not feel quite as finessed as that on the Mazda3 or Toyota Corolla, from time to time letting a wheel reach its limits with a thump on a big bump. But that mild deficiency never fazes the prodigious purchase of the Impreza’s all-wheel-drive chassis. The most obvious improvement here would be more side-support from the seats.
Spin the engine hard and there is as much power as you will find in most popular small cars, and more than many. However, depressing the go-pedal does not generate the instant shove you get from turbocharged alternatives, and compared with nearly all others there is more weight to get moving. The CVT works nicely with the engine in manual mode, even offering surprisingly effective engine braking from down changes.
How is life in the rear seats?
It’s great for a car of its type, and better than in the already good outgoing Impreza, with a comfortable seat and enough leg and shoulder room to keep two big adults quite happy.
The stadium-style seating provides a superb outlook as well, and dedicated vents supply heating and cooling. It is hard to think of a small car that looks after you better.
How is it for carrying stuff?
Boot space is about the same as in the superseded car, with a capacious 460 litres in the sedan – as much as the mid-sized Ford Mondeo supplies, for example – and 345 in the hatchback. Boot openings in both are slightly wider than before. Seats split-fold 60-40 for extending the load space.
Because of its design, you can't tow anything with an Impreza sedan, however, the hatchback can tow up to 1200kg with a braked trailer
Where does Subaru make the Impreza?
The Subaru Impreza is manufactured in Japan.
What might I miss that similar cars have?
I like this car, but I can't choose which version. Can you help?
You get a lot for your money with any Impreza, but arguably the best value comes at the top of the price scale with the 2.0i-S. The leather, advanced headlights and all-round safety monitors are nice to have, and the improved grip and torque vectoring make it even more fun to drive. Hatch or sedan (which cost the same) is up to you; unless you'll need to tow something which rules out the sedan.
Are there plans to update the Impreza soon?
This fifth-generation Impreza arrived in Australia in December 2016 as an all-new model.
Lane Keeping Assist was added as a standard EyeSight function in September 2017 .
In February 2020 the Impreza received a facelift that also brought premium cloth seats to the 2.0i and 2.0i-L and added the additional safety features available in the 2.0i-S to the 2.0i Premium.
Expect an all-new version sometime in 2022.