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New chassis, classy cabin ... but the Impreza still needs an engine to do it justice
IT MAY not look very different but Subaru calls its latest Impreza “95 per cent new”.
The fifth-generation model is based on a new platform that will be used for the entire Subaru range.
The brand is looking to shed its conservative image and target younger buyers, particularly women.
But success could be tempered slightly by a higher entry level price, brought about by dumping the cheaper manual version.
Prices start from $24,990 drive-away and you can buy it online, as with the sporty BRZ stablemate.
There is also an introductory extended five-year warranty for buyers signing up before December 31.
The new hatch and sedan adhere to the tried and tested Subaru formula of all-wheeldrive and a 2.0-litre “boxer” engine.
But the look is sleeker and more attractive, with many technical advances, not the least of which is the all-new stiffer chassis that endows better ride, handling and noise suppression.
The updated engine features higher compression and more efficient direct injection, delivering slightly better fuel
consumption and a small increase in power. Torque stays the same but the peak outputs kick in 200rpm earlier.
The continuously variable transmission has been heavily revised to feel more like a standard auto, with seven steps mimicking conventional gear shifts.
The car sits 10mm lower, is 35mm longer and has a 25mm longer wheelbase that provides an extra 26mm of rear legroom.
Subaru’s “Eyesight” safety tech includes radar cruise control, automated emergency braking with pedestrian and cyclist detection and lane departure warning. It isn’t available on the cheapest model but is standard on other models. Crash test body ANCAP has criticised the maker for not providing the technology across the full range.
“It’s disappointing these technologies have not been provided as standard across their respective model ranges and for the safety of all road users we want to see an increase in the fitting of this technology,” says ANCAP chief executive James Goodwin.
ON THE ROAD
With only a 5kW boost in power and no increase in torque, the Impreza once again fails to deliver in terms of excitement. Revisions to the CVT, including a lower first gear, shave the 0-100km/h time to 10.1 seconds, which is still too slow.
This was confirmed as we pressed the pedal to the metal for the first time heading out of the city. We’re also still not fans of the CVT, despite the changes.
But the car is a revelation in terms of ride and handling, with the confident, planted feel you normally only get with a larger car. It feels tighter, more controlled and responds to the wheel better.
The ride is smoother and the upmarket cabin is quieter and is close to the top of the class for quality of materials and standard equipment.
In more expensive models, the dash is dominated by a large eight-inch touchscreen — the entry model makes do with a 6.5-inch screen. Smartphone users can access Google Maps through Apple CarPlay and, for the first time, Android Auto.
A great car with a chassis that deserves an engine that can deliver some real performance.