A glimpse at the new Subaru Im­preza.


Town & Country (Philippines) - - CONTENTS / APRIL -

It’s been al­most 20 years since I first sat be­hind the wheel of a Subaru Im­preza. Well, sort of. Af­ter quit­ting my en­try-level bank­ing job in the late 1990s, I would kill time at the mall with two of my sim­i­larly di­rec­tion­less friends. We’d nurse our cups of cof­fee for hours while peo­ple watch­ing, and when that got old, we’d head over to the video ar­cade. We weren’t re­ally gamers, but for that much needed adren­a­line rush that our lives sorely lacked we’d play a few games of that car racing clas­sic, Sega Rally. The ve­hi­cle of choice? The one that pro­pelled the late, great Colin McRae to World Rally Cham­pi­onship supremacy in 1995—the Im­preza, of course.

Many things have changed—for Subaru and me—since those days. The Im­preza has gone through sev­eral meta­mor­phoses, with mod­els in­clud­ing sedans, coupes, hatches, and sta­tion wag­ons. For the Im­preza’s fifth gen­er­a­tion, Subaru, dis­trib­uted in the Asian re­gion by the Mo­tor Image Group, un­veiled the car’s most rad­i­cal re­design yet at the Sin­ga­pore Mo­tor­show 2017 ear­lier this year. It’s built around what’s called the Subaru Global Plat­form—the ar­chi­tec­ture or car body frame­work that all fu­ture mod­els of the Ja­panese au­tomaker will be based upon. “The en­hance­ments to the new plat­form set a new bench­mark in driv­ing com­fort, per­for­mance and safety, promis­ing driv­ers an ex­pe­ri­ence like no other,” said Glenn Tan, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of Tan Chiong In­ter­na­tional, Mo­tor Image’s par­ent com­pany.

Be­sides the im­prove­ments promised to the car’s oc­cu­pants, the tech­nol­ogy stream­lines Subaru’s ex­ist­ing man­u­fac­tur­ing pro­cesses, as all the dif­fer­ent mod­els of­fered by the brand can now be built or as­sem­bled in a one-fac­tory setup. Com­pany ex­ec­u­tives claim that the cost sav­ings will ul­ti­mately ben­e­fit the con­sumer as Subaru’s prod­ucts be­come more com­pet­i­tive in the mar­ket.

It all sounds good in the­ory, but would it per­form on the road? To get a glimpse of what the car is ca­pa­ble of, mo­tor­ing jour­nal­ists were treated to a dis­play of stunt driv­ing by Russ Swift, the glo­be­trot­ting English­man fa­mous for pre­ci­sion park­ing with in­cred­i­ble speed and pin-point ac­cu­racy. In the Im­preza he made it all look so easy. Pow­ered by a 2.0-liter, four-cylin­der boxer en­gine, the car ac­cel­er­ated quickly on the short course while the ven­ti­lated disc brakes al­lowed it to stop on a dime; the pre­cise steer­ing brought the Im­preza to wher­ever the stunt driver had in mind. While I didn’t get to try the same tricks— ob­vi­ously that would take more than a day’s training—I did get to drive the car and see what made it all pos­si­ble.

In a se­cluded part of the is­land na­tion, Subaru set up sev­eral short tracks to test the three C’s—Con­fi­dence, Con­trol, and Com­fort—in the Im­preza plus a few other cars in the same class from other man­u­fac­tur­ers.

The Con­fi­dence track tested pri­mar­ily our faith in the car’s safety equip­ment, most im­por­tantly the trac­tion con­trol and brak­ing sys­tems. Fol­low­ing the in­struc­tor’s lead I floored the gas, get­ting up to speed be­fore zoom­ing through a wet, slip­pery metal plate on a chi­cane—no prob­lem, all thanks to the All-Wheel Drive sys­tem. Pi­o­neered by Subaru for pas­sen­ger car use in 1972, it’s among the fea­tures that el­e­vate

the Im­preza from most other cars in its class. Later, while mak­ing a sharp turn at con­sid­er­able speed, the in­struc­tor com­i­cally screamed “brake!” which was eas­ily done with­out skid­ding or los­ing con­trol—signs that the anti-lock brakes where work­ing per­fectly. This, com­bined with a low cen­ter of grav­ity (5mm lower than the pre­vi­ous model), ac­counts for the car’s abil­ity to han­dle sud­den twists and other sur­prises on the road.

On the Com­fort track, what im­presses most is the rigid­ity of the Im­preza’s chas­sis—on the most bumpy part, where you’d ex­pect a lot of vi­bra­tion, creaks, and thumps from var­i­ous parts of the car (and groans from pas­sen­gers), it was ad­e­quately smooth, with the sus­pen­sion ab­sorb­ing most of the pun­ish­ment. On quick turns, the Im­preza also showed less body roll, let­ting pas­sen­gers sit com­fort­ably in the cabin with­out much slid­ing around.

The Con­trol track, while be­ing the short­est of them all, showed how Swift was able to per­form his pre­ci­sion stunts. While ac­cel­er­at­ing, I make a tight full cir­cle—the clos­est thing to recre­at­ing Swift’s dough­nuts—be­fore zip­ping through a twisty chi­cane and pulling off an­other quick brak­ing test. Un­like other cars that give a sharp jolt when you fully de­press the gas pedal, the new Im­preza doesn’t jack rab­bit or emit tire squeal. In­stead, it picks up speed smoothly. To those used to more ag­gres­sive driv­ing, it might seem like a draw­back, but this no­tion is coun­tered quickly by Subaru’s en­gi­neers. It’s de­signed that way to “give the driver more con­trol,” they say. Power with­out con­trol is noth­ing, af­ter all.

The all-new Im­preza, ini­tially of­fered in the Philip­pines in the 2.0i-S four-door ver­sion, gives jus­tice to what its name sounds like—im­pres­sive—and you can’t ar­gue with that. Af­ter more than 20 years on the road, what peo­ple still de­bate about is whether it’s im-pret-za or im-pre-zah (the Ja­panese en­gi­neers I spoke to pro­nounce it the lat­ter way). It may be just a made-up word, but type “Im­preza” in Google Trans­late and you’ll get a sur­prise. Maybe the Pol­ish know what it re­ally means. Wink, wink. Mo­tor Image Pilip­inas 187 Epi­fanio de los Santos Av­enue, San Juan; 727.8333; subaru-global.com.

By Pierre A. Calasanz

MoVE ALonG the Subaru Im­preza is of­fered in the Philip­pines ini­tially as a four-door sedan with a 2.0-liter, four-cylin­der boxer en­gine.


In & out Clock­wise: the spa­cious cabin has enough room for a small fam­ily; fea­tures like the sun­roof and en­ter­tain­ment sys­tem make long drives fun; the hatch­back model is com­ing soon.

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