Subaru’s fourth-generation Impreza has finally arrived, but it’s an evolution rather than revolution, reports CHRIS RILEY
THE quieter and more refined Impreza continues to boast a flat-four boxer engine and symmetrical all-wheel drive with a heavy emphasis on safety and better fuel economy.
Subaru sees the car as an alternative to the frontwheel-drive “clones” that comprise the segment.
Market research has identified fuel economy as the key feature that buyers are looking for and the investment in this area is apparent, but at what cost?
I’ve never been a big fan of the Impreza’s styling and can’t say I’m overly impressed with this one, but style is a personal thing.
It’s the same basic engine as in Forester, but with the addition of dual-valve timing. It produces 110kw of power and 196Nm of torque, exactly the same as before. However, it gets a timing chain this time around which means no more expensive timing belt services.
The crusty old five-speed manual and four-speed automatic have made way for a six-speed manual and six-speed Cvt-style auto.
The big news is the CVT and the big gains in fuel economy that it promises.
It’s expected to account for 80 per cent of sales. CVTS or continuously variable transmissions are designed to find the perfect balance between power and economy in all situations.
It has a six-speed manual mode, with change
paddles to make the most of f it.
The CVT is the pick in the performance department. The sprint from 0-100km/h for the CVT is 10.5 seconds and for the manual 11.1 secs. That’s better than the previous auto, but not nearly y as quick as the old five-speed ed manual at 9.6. So in the broader ader context it is not that quick at all.
The Impreza runs on standard unleaded petrol. Subaru is claiming 6.8 litres/100km for the CVT and 7.1 for the manual. That’s a 22/20 per cent improvement.
During the drive program, however, the CVT returned 8.2 litres/100km and the manual, 9.0 litres/100km – nothing like what it should be getting.
All models are fitted with auto start/stop which shuts the engine down at traffic lights to save fuel and reduce pollution.
Subaru says studies have shown that cars may be stopped for 30 per cent of the time, so there are big gains to be had in this area. If you don’t like it, you can simply disable the function.
Impreza scores a full five stars for safety, with not six but seven airbags. This time around it includes a
driver’s knee bag to protect the lower
legs in a an accident.
Exterior dimensions a are the same as the previous model but it sits 10mm lower, has a 2 20mm wider track and 25 25mm longer wheelbase. The body is 10kg lighter, but 25 per c cent stiffer. The redesign provides more mor room inside too, with more rear leg room and more elbow and shoulder room.
The seats are more comfortable and the ride quality is very good, apart from the occasional intrusion of tyre noise on coarse bitumen.
Sadly there’s no digital speedo in sight and still no one-touch blinkers for lane changing.
It’s more refined – that’s for sure – with a lower centre of gravity and it hugs the road like a thoroughbred. It’s quieter inside too.
But, and it’s a big BUT, you really have to push this car hard to get it moving, especially the manual with it’s tall gearing. The result, not unexpectedly, is poor economy which was reflected in the figures we got.
The CVT in comparison doesn’t have to work as hard and is the pick as far as we’re concerned.
It also feels more responsive to the throttle.
All models get Bluetooth phone connection, with steering wheel phone, audio and cruise controls, climate airconditioning, USB input and multi-function display with distance to empty.
WHAT YOU DON’T GET
The are no alloy wheels for the 2.0i and no fullsize spare for any of them. Inside, there’s no leather unless you buy an option pack, and no mention of parking sensors.
Sat-nav costs an arm and a leg (packaged with the sunroof as a $3000 option).
The model designations are different this time around. R, RX and RS have been replaced with 2.0i, 2.0i-l and 2.0i-s. The 2.0i kicks off from $23,990* for the sedan and hatch, but the CVT will cost you another $2500. The flagship S starts from $31,490*.
It’s quieter, more refined, roomier inside and better equipped than ever before and all for the same price.
Subaru has managed to pull off the impossible by making its boxer, all-wheel drive mainstay the class leader in fuel economy with a Green Guide rating that’s almost as good as a Prius.
But it’s not enough to be fuel efficient. It needs to be fun to drive, too, and sadly it falls short of this mark. * For drive-away prices contact Trinity Subaru, 455 Mulgrave Rd, Earlville, phone 4081 5000.