Morph for the money
The Impreza takes a step forward and the XV a leap
XV is described as a subcompact SUV, smaller than a Forester, but bigger than a small hatch.
The XV arrives in January, followed a month later by the new Impreza sedan and hatch.
The outgoing Impreza range starts at $21,490 and goes to $28,490, excluding thewrx ANDWRXSTI. Not only do the sports models lose the Impreza name, they have their own build program.
The previous Impreza RX sold for $25,990. The closest competitors for the new XV are the Mitsubishi ASX (from $25,990) and Nissan Dualis (from $24,990).
Both new Subarus come in three lines: 2.0i, L and S.
Even the base models come with Bluetooth, while the L adds satnav and the S gets leather seats with heating for the front pews. Rearview camera, foglights and a sunroof are optional on the L and S Impreza, but are standard on
Already fivestar crash test performers, the Impreza and XV come with seven airbags, including fulllength curtain airbags and a kneebag for the driver. A major safety improvement is in the driver’s vision. The front seats have been raised, the windscreen pillar has been narrowed and the door mirrors are 20 per cent bigger.
The body and chassis are 20kg lighter but are also 10 per cent stiffer.
The Impreza will be the first conventionally powered small car in Australia to have auto stop-start across the range and the XV will be the first compact SUV with this fuel-saving technology.
Subaru quotes fuel savings of 5 per cent from the technology, but those are in-house figures and not Australian standards.
‘‘ It will debunk the theory that all-wheel-drive cars aren’t fuel-efficient,’’ says product manager Akihide Takeuchi.
Stop-start automatically switches off the engine in 0.5 seconds when the car is stopped and restarts in 0.35 seconds when the brake pedal is released.
A new 2.0-litre version of Subaru’s trademark boxer engine, new transmissions, improved aerodynamics and electric power steering drop fuel economy to below 7.0L/100km, a claimed 20 per cent improvement.
The engine has the same power and torque as before but now has a longer stroke for more torque at lower revs, which translates to better acceleration.
The manual now has six speeds, with a taller top gear that reduces engine revs from 3000rpm at 100km/h to less than 2500rpm, which is not only more economical but also quieter.
The inadequate and outdated four-speed auto is gone in favour of a continuously variable transmission with paddle shifters and six presets.
Screens abound inside: one in the centre of the instruments, one in the centre stack and a third on the dashboard.
The larger multi-function display has up to eight displays, which can be personalised to show a range of useful information and can even send you a happy birthday message.
The upgraded audio also has USB, MP3 and iphone connectivity and there is a new satnav system with voice control and predictive text when entering an address. It will even offer you a more economical route to save on fuel and CO emissions.
All-wheel-drive is, of course, standard.
Criticism of the outgoing Impreza’s exterior shape and hard plastic interior materials has been heeded. The windscreen is more steeply raked, the bodywork more sculpted and the headlights sharper and more defined.
The XV has high ground clearance of 220mm (the same as the Forester) but has a lower body height than most compact SUVS for a rakish, sporty crossover look.
The wheelbase is 25mm longer that the old RX but the overall length remains the same, which means interior legroom is improved.
That’s further enhanced by higher front seats while both models now have scalloped out seat backs on the front pews. Revised door geometry improves access, too.
The interior feels more airy, thanks to the thinner front pillars and the horizontal lines across the dashboard.
Storage bins abound in both models with door pockets that fit a water bottle and an A4 folder or laptop. The centre console has a handy clip-holder for a notebook and a pen.
Paired up: The Impreza, left, will arrive in sedan and hatch form in February, joining the XV, a ‘‘subcompact SUV’’, right