Warwick Daily News - - NEWS - Richard Black­burn

More screens than a sports bar. That was our first im­pres­sion of Subaru’s new Im­preza hatch. Apart from the cen­tre screen, there’s an­other atop the dash and a dis­play be­tween the speedo and tacho. There’d be cock­pits of pas­sen­ger planes with less sen­sory over­load.

If I’d handed back our new long-ter­mer after a week, the lay­out would have got the thumbs down — but after spend­ing some time be­hind the wheel I’ve grown ac­cus­tomed to the set-up.

The mu­sic menu sits on top, there’s sat­nav on the main screen and the trip com­puter is in front of me, as well as the dig­i­tal speedo.

The speedo dis­play in­cludes traf­fic-sign recog­ni­tion that picks up the changes in speed lim­its ac­cu­rately, in­clud­ing school zones, al­though th­ese stay on during school hol­i­days — bet­ter safe than sorry.

Over­all the cabin is a serene place for the daily com­mute. The ma­te­ri­als are high qual­ity, the seats com­fort­able and vi­sion is good all round.

It also has an ar­ray of stan­dard driver aids that would put some lux­ury makes to shame. Us­ing radar and cam­eras it can main­tain a safe dis­tance to the car in front on the free­way, as well as de­tect po­ten­tial im­pacts with pedes­tri­ans, cy­clists and other cars — and slam on the brakes to avoid or mit­i­gate a crash.

The sus­pen­sion does a good job of soak­ing up bumps, al­though the larger di­am­e­ter wheels and lower pro­file tyres don’t de­liver the magic car­pet ride of cheaper mod­els in the Im­preza range.

The main gripe with the Im­preza at the mo­ment is the en­gine-trans­mis­sion com­bi­na­tion. Con­tin­u­ously vari­able trans­mis­sions, which don’t change gears as a con­ven­tional auto would, leave me cold.

The Subaru’s doesn’t drone as no­tice­ably as oth­ers but in bumper to bumper traf­fic it is jerky when you ap­ply light pres­sure to the ac­cel­er­a­tor. The en­gine is no marvel of modern engi­neer­ing, ei­ther, with only ad­e­quate ac­cel­er­a­tion off the mark.

Over­all, the Im­preza gets the thumbs up so far.

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