THE 2017 Subaru Impreza will go into production later this year and will ride on the company’s all-new platform, with the North American arm of the company telling New York showgoers that there’s more to the market than SUVs.
“Millennials are buying compacts,” said Subaru North America boss Tom Doll, adding: “There will be 80 million of them in the United States by 2020.” Doll confirmed the US-built Impreza shown in New York is the same (apart from spec/trim levels) as the car that will go on sale here late this year. “That’s my understanding – yes … [but] the Australian market [Impreza] will be from Japan.”
The New York reveal of the production version of the new Volkswagen Golf, Mazda 3 and Toyota Corolla rival included both the sedan and the five-door hatch. The handsome duo carries familiar Subaru styling cues, and, as Doll told Wheels at last year’s LA motor show, they aren’t far removed from the 2015 concept cars.
At 4625mm, the well-proportioned production version is a substantial 40mm longer than the current Impreza sedan, and is 38mm wider but sits 10mm lower. It’s also 5mm longer, 2mm wider and 5mm lower than the current Thai-built Toyota Corolla sedan, but not as long or wide as a Mazda 3 sedan (4580mm and 1795mm respectively).
Crucially, the Impreza rides on the company’s all-new Subaru global architecture which will underpin its entire range of cars through to its best seller, the Forester. Engineered to enhance dynamics with a low centre of gravity, the new platform is 70-percent stiffer than the current Impreza’s underpinnings, and comes with electric power steering as well as torque vectoring.
A 1995cc 2.0-litre boxer four-cylinder engine making 113kW will power US market models, and now features direct fuel injection. That compares with the current US model’s 110kW, identical to the current Australian-market Impreza 2.0-litre. Fuel economy figures are yet to be disclosed.
The Impreza will continue with a continuously variable transmission, with no dual-clutch transmission planned. “In that market, it’s not a dual-clutch market… it’s hard to justify,” Doll said.
When Wheels suggested that the lack of a dual-clutch transmission may catch out Subaru given the Impreza is all-new, Subaru North America’s Michael McHale responded: “Maybe, but the market is where it is.”
For Australia, the Impreza will not come from the Indiana factory that shifts manufacturing of the C-segment Subaru outside of Japan for the first time. It allows Subaru North America to produce more cars, which was the only thing that prevented it surpassing 600,000 sales in the US in 2015. In 2016, the company expects to sell more than one million vehicles globally for the first time in its seven decades of history.
Subarus sold in Australia will continue to be sourced from Japan, something confirmed by local managing director Nick Senior at the launch of the updated Forester, Outback and Liberty models in February.
Subaru Australia sold a record 43,600 cars in Australia in 2015. Although the Impreza was officially its fourth-best selling nameplate, the Impreza-based Subaru XV sold strongly enough that – if added to Impreza’s sales – the model would have outsold the most popular car in the range, the Forester.