A lasting impression
The all-new Subaru Impreza’s advances go beyond its body
The Japanese carmaker debuts the Subaru Global Platform with this ride. Impressive, as always.
Most carmakers, when they introduce an all-new model, first hype up the vehicle’s looks. They cite an interesting element here, a taut line there. They reveal a new wheel design as if they’ve reinvented, well, the wheel. The latest car is an order of magnitude better than the old one, they say. Never mind if it’s just a mid-cycle facelift.
Subaru isn’t most carmakers. Just before launching the all-new Impreza, the company released teaser photos—of the car’s chassis. This platform would be the basis of nearly all of its upcoming vehicles. Promised are advances in safety, packaging and handling.
Of course, this frame comes with the most important factor: a completely new body. Nothing too unusual here—the next Impreza displays classic sedan proportions and features. The pertinent pieces are there, as if they were items on a checklist: sensible-looking face, beady headlamps, LED daytime running lights, body creases on the sides, door-mounted mirrors for better visibility. In contrast to many designs nowadays, the grille is simple: a small trapezoid, afforded a touch of sportiness with the winglike Subaru logo cluster, and black wire-mesh insert. There’s also a pronounced air dam molded as part of the front bumper. Alloys are the standard 17in units on the top-of-the-line 2.0-liter variant.
Perhaps the biggest challenge that will face Motor Image’s salespeople is that the front looks similar to the previous car’s at first glance. Then you look again, and the new car seems to squat closer to the ground. It is lower, by 10mm. You get to the side view, and you see that the new car looks longer. The rear marks the biggest difference, with the horizontally oriented taillights helping to make the Impreza look wider.
It’s all neat and predictably understated, if perhaps lacking a bit of pizzazz. In the competitors’ looks department, there’s one big challenge, and it wears a big H badge. The new Civic rewrote the rulebook where styling is concerned, and Honda came up with a compact sedan that’s edgy and dramatic. Once you
‘THE CARMAKER RELEASED TEASER PHOTOS OF THE NEW CHASSIS’
see a Civic, your eyes can’t help but lock onto it. By comparison, the Impreza plays it safe.
The car continues the conventional but handsome theme when it comes to the interior. It’s as gray as Batman’s wardrobe in here, with some matte-metallic inserts to break the monotony. The shapes, though, look engaging. Vents, steering-wheel spokes, and gauge cluster all share angular design cues. At the center is a large 8in touchscreen that controls the infotainment system. Connectivity should be excellent, given that the system includes both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto software. You can pipe in your calls or favorite soundtrack via Bluetooth.
There’s about an inch more space between the Subaru’s axles, and indeed, rear knee room has benefited from this. Photographer Alfred Mendoza, aka Size 14, could fit in the seat behind the driver’s perch when the latter is adjusted to his driving position, without being uncomfortable. There’s plenty of foot space under the front seat, but the floor isn’t completely flat, what with the trademark Subaru driveshaft bump in the middle. It’s definitely roomier, with Subaru’s American arm claiming that the new Impreza has the biggest passenger space in its class.
With the large key fob in our pocket, we push the starter button. The result is mostly silence, as the 2.0-liter boxer-four fires up. The engine is reportedly 80% new, with the changes aimed toward delivering better torque and fuel efficiency. Power is a relatively modest 154hp, with 196Nm of torque. The engine is mated with a CVT that has also been revamped, with a wider spread of gear ratios for improved acceleration. Off the line, the Impreza won’t scorch the pavement. Takeoff is decent, though, with a notable increase in low-end torque. The familiar paddle shifters are there behind the steering wheel, should you wish to order up a lower gear ratio.
You’ll have to wait till about 2020 for Subaru to come up with a WRX version. The standard Impreza sedan,
and even its XV derivative, was never noted for its acceleration. Where Subaru does shine is in its handling and cornering. This is mostly due to the engine’s 180-degree V-angle, with the mass of the engine aligning with the car’s bumper. The low-mounted engine gives Subarus a more planted feel around corner. The new Impreza goes lower still—it’s reckoned to have a center of gravity 5mm lower than the previous model’s. Our maneuvering is limited but the handling still provokes a smirk or two.
The other half of the Subaru handling equation is the symmetrical all-wheel drive, with major drive components mounted on either side of the car’s
‘THE BIGGEST IMPROVEMENT IS IN RIDE QUALITY AND COMFORT’
centerline. All Imprezas will of course have all-wheel drive as standard.
When Subaru first launched the hatchback version of the Impreza, the question was: Where is the sedan? Now that the sedan is taking a bow, the inevitable query would be: Where is the hatch? The short answer: Nowhere, for now. The Philippine market will only get the sedan, and in top-variant form at first. The sleek-looking hatchback will be sacrificed in favor of the taller XV version, perhaps to be seen later in the year.
Where the Impreza delivers the biggest improvement is in its ride quality and comfort. The previous car had a firm ride, and whether you found that desirable or not would depend on your age and perhaps the condition of your back. The new car seems to absorb bumps with more compliance. The chassis is key to this feature: Its rigidity is up 50% compared to the outgoing model’s, thanks to joints that are both glued and welded. The Impreza makes first use of this platform, but it will also be the basis of bigger, more luxurious vehicles like the next-generation Legacy and Outback, and an upcoming seven-seat crossover. The Subaru Global Platform is also meant to take alternative-propulsion assemblies, like a gasoline-electric hybrid powertrain.
The latest Impreza is not so much a pretty wrapper for what is underneath a mundane product. What we’ve constantly felt with the new car is that Subaru has spent the most effort on what lies beneath, on a new platform that can deliver the goods both on good roads and bad, and in all weather conditions. All it takes is a corner or two to appreciate that.
Engine: 2.0-liter H4 Power: 156hp @ 6,000rpm Torque: 196Nm @ 4,000rpm Transmission: CVT SUBARU IMPREZA
The tiny details are a delight once you notice them
Center of gravity is even lower this time around. You will feel the change As always, the Impreza offers a driver-centric cabin. Let’s hit the road
Alloys aren’t a crazy size, and that’s something we appreciate very much This car begs to be driven around corners swiftly. Any takers?
Those who have grown to love the edgy lines won’t be disappointed
You get the familiar design cues with some surprising new details