SUBARU’S model plan often feels like Forrest Gump’s box of chocolates: you never know what you’re going to get next. Sure, with the exception of the Subaru BRZ they’re predictably boxy and send drive to all four corners, but dynamic quality is far more hit and miss.
No longer – the new car is vastly better. If we were handing out a gong for the biggest improvement of the year then the Scooby would have scooped it. It’s across-the-board, from design to handling, with generous standard kit and competitive pricing sharpening its case. While the old car was as blunt as a wooden spoon, this one practically has a serrated edge.
The exterior looks good – taut and muscled where its predecessor was amorphous and flabby – but it’s the cabin that’s the revelation, with smart design and much higher quality trim than any Subaru owner will be used to. It’s spacious, too – not a word used in connection to the last car.
The proving ground element demonstrated the fundamental quality of the chassis, which is both impressively compliant over bumps and taut feeling when asked to play in corners. All-wheel drive is unique to the segment, and comes in the basic 2.0i for under $23,000, while the $29,190 2.0i-S hatch adds torque vectoring that could be felt working to tighten the car’s line in slower corners.
Economy was better than we were expecting given the previous form of over-stretched flat-fours; 9.9L/100km on test put it within a whisker of the supposedly super-efficient Audi A4 1.4T.
The Subaru scored particularly well on safety with the optical Eyesight monitoring system working extremely well, if proving itself to be a bit over-keen when it came to reporting lane departure. Radar cruise is good and in our AEB tests the Subaru Impreza earned a star from teacher, its system working faultlessly at spotting and reacting to threats, putting many (much) more expensive rivals to shame.
The new Impreza is a massive leap forward, and a welcome return to form, for what was once one of the world’s most compelling car brands.