SECRET’S OUT ON IMPREZA
A VERY SOLID SUBARU BUT JUST NOT STUNNING
JAMES Bond would have had a much easier time if he'd had a Subaru Impreza, rather than an Aston Martin, while saving the world from Spectre and such nasties.
That's mainly because an Aston Martin draws a lot of attention, which is the last thing a spy wants, while the latest Impreza remains almost anonymous.
That seems to be just what a lot of buyers want, since Subaru was one of just three brands to achieve positive growth in February.
Its star performer was its new Impreza, with national sales up an incredible 142 per cent for the month and 135 per cent year-todate.
Subaru says the Impreza, now in its fifth generation, is 95 per cent all-new, and a bit wider, lower and longer than its predecessor, but its looks – and prices – haven't changed much.
The Imprezas come in four sedan and hatchback variants, all using a new-generation 115kW/ 196Nm 2.0litre four cylinder boxer engine and a CVT driving all four wheels.
Prices are from $22,400 for the Impreza 2.0i sedan, the 2.0i-L is $24,490 and the top-of-the-pops 2.Oi-S is some $4500 extra at $28,990. The Hatchbacks are $200 more.
Kit-wise, the entry model gets a 6.5-inch touchscreen with Bluetooth connectivity and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone mirroring, and rides on 17inch alloys, while the L adds a bigger (8.0-inch) touchscreen, higher-grade cloth trim and leather-rimmed steering wheel and gearknob, dual-zone climate control, foglights and a smarter multi-function display.
It also has Subaru's excellent Eyesight safety system, which uses a stereo camera mounted at the top of the windscreen to access functions, such as adaptive cruise control and forward collision and lane departure warnings.
For another $1800 the 2.0iPremium comes with an electric sunroof and satnav.
Then there's the $28,990 2.0iS.
Features include active torque vectoring, automatic steering-responsive LED headlights with built-in daytime running lights, leather-accented trim with heated front seats and power adjustment on the driver's side, sideskirts, larger (18-inch) alloys and blind spot monitoring, lane change assist and rear cross traffic alert.
It has very good seating, lots of room front and rear – and in the boot – and it has top-class instrumentation.
It drives well too, though its CVT is not particularly smooth, especially at low speeds.
But it's divine through the corners, the driver seldom having to lift off as the all-wheel-drive and rally-refined suspension keeps the car exactly where intended.
It partially makes up for the engine's lack of enthusiasm.
Our clock stopped at 10.4seconds on a sprint from zero to 100km/h.
But that kind of data has more effect on reviewers than buyers, and I'm confident the otherwise excellent vehicle will continue its sales surge.
Other pluses are a five-star safety rating and a 12,500km/12month capped price service program.
Official fuel consumption is 7.2litres/100km.
A good, solid car with a well-sorted drivetrain. It won't win traffic light grands prix and it won't turn heads, but it excels at almost every other level.
Subaru's sales-surging Impreza. Verdict: