Small and sure-footed
Owners are keen on the Impreza’s all-wheel drive safety and blend of economy and performance
The Subaru Impreza has long been a favourite of local small car shoppers who are attracted by its perceived build quality, design innovation and allwheel drive safety.
In 2011, the Impreza came in five-door hatch and four-door sedan body styles, starting with the entry-level 2.0i and rising to the 2.0i-L and 2.0i-S.
For a car of its size the Impreza was quite roomy and accommodated four adults comfortably — it was claimed to be a five-seater but fitting three adults in the rear seat was a squeeze, three kids less so.
Typical of Subaru, power came from a 2.0-litre fourcylinder “boxer” engine with fuel injection and variable valve timing.
Peak outputs of 110kW/ 196Nm gave decent performance across a wide range of engine speeds, while returning good economy on regular unleaded petrol.
The gearbox choices were five or six-speed manuals and, the choice of most buyers, a sixspeed constantly variable transmission.
The safety of all-wheel drive was an important selling point for anyone living in areas prone to wet or slippery roads.
AWD added significantly to the Impreza’s overall security but it also had all the contemporary safety gear to gain five stars from ANCAP. On the road the Impreza felt surefooted with a comfortable ride and decent performance.
The majority of Impreza owners are happy with their cars, although one detailed a commonly heard tale of high oil consumption.
Without driving a car over an extended period of time, it’s very difficult to determine whether it uses more oil than it should.
By all means ask about oil usage in a car you’re considering but a vendor may be loath to disclose such information.
When testing a potential purchase, check for black smoke from the exhaust.
For most owners the performance and economy of the 2.0-litre engine stacks up.
So too does the operation of the CVT. Most owners praise this transmission but if you haven’t driven a CVT auto before it can be off-putting.
Designed to maintain a steady engine speed for fuel efficiency, the transmission infinitely varies the transmission ratios. Conventional autos use fixed ratios and vary the engine speed.
Once you become accustomed to this, it works fine. Just make sure it’s smooth and doesn’t shudder or surge.
Dash rattles are also reported, so take note of any you hear when test-driving a car. A potential short circuit in the wiring loom led to a recall in 2015. It affected model years 2012 to 2014.
Check that the required inspection and necessary repairs have been done.
Bill Hall Our 2012 Impreza has done 40,000km from new and we’re very happy with it. The style is conservative but hasn’t really aged, the size is ideal to get around and park, the allwheel drive makes us feel safe and sure footed, the CVT is very smooth, it’s got plenty of grunt when needed and the fuel economy is excellent. I don’t like the automatic engine shutdown and disengage it. Dealer servicing is too expensive but, overall, we love it.
Alan McDonald I have a 2012 2.0i sedan, which I find roomy, comfortable and a joy to drive. I like the performance and the CVT works well.
Dee Dawson My 2013 2.0i hasn’t missed a beat in the four years I have owned it. I couldn’t imagine buying anything else.
Gilbert McLaughlin I’ve had trouble with my 2012 Impreza from the day I bought it. It uses a lot of oil, the engine is gutless, the stop-start function has been unreliable, and the dash rattles.
Safe and sound car with the added virtue of all-wheel drive.