By Antony Dickson
Subaru has always catered to adventure-oriented customers with its AWD line-up. So most of its customers didn’t really care about its looks but stayed focused on its performance on and off road. The Impreza in particular was a favourite choice for small families keeping in mind its AWD capabilities. And more often the Impreza’s other twin – the WRX STI usually stole the thunder because of its raw power and handling and domination in the rallying world. They had however one major issue and that was poor fuel economy.
For 2012, Subaru has tackled that issue and are offering an all new Subaru Impreza that promises an increase in fuel economy with an all-new 2.0 litre Subaru Boxer engine. Not only that, but the new Impreza has undergone a major makeover in the looks department for 2012, looks refined and classy with sharper edges and comes with Subaru’s integral design elements like the hawk-eye headlights. Powerful wheel arches make a strong statement of ifs AWD capabilities and overall, the 2012 Impreza is pleasing to the eye. With the 2012 model, Subaru is eyeing customers from competiton like Toyota Corolla, Mazda3, Honda Civic and Ford Focus. And they could be successful because the Impreza has an edge over them. It’s an all-wheel drive that provides a great drive in all weather conditions.
The new Impreza’s new 2.0 litre boxer engine is surprisingly smaller than the previous one, but according to the manufacturers is quicker than its outgoing model. They also claim current engine offers the highest fuel efficiency of any all-wheel drive car in North America with fuel efficiency ratings of 7.5 litres/100 km in the city and 5.5 litres/100 km on the highway. However, te test car we feature here – the Impreza 2.0i Sport Package 5-door CVT – gave us an impressive 8.4 litres/100 km in city driving. The new Impreza comes with a choice of five-speed manual transmission or the second-generation CVT (Continuously Variable Transmission) automatic. It produces 148 horsepower and 145 pound-feet of torque. That’s a drop of 22 horsepower from its previous engine.
Though the engine has got smaller, driving around town wasn’t a drag and performed considerably well. The gear changes felt sporty thanks to the CVT. CVTs are a little different from regular automatics. CVTs don’t shift from one gear to another, but infinitely adjust the car’s gear ratios, maximizing efficiency. The tester also came with wheel mounted paddle shifters to add that little quotient of fun for the driver.
With the windshield further raked than the previous model and thinner A-pillars, once seated inside, the new Impreza offers increased visibility all around. The fresh look from the outside continues to the interiors. The dash offers tons of information besides speed. Besides plenty of storage options, the Impreza offers increased connectivity to electronic devices. The music system, however, doesn’t live up to expectations and hopefully in future models, Subaru wil work on the sound department. The Impreza Sport Package adds power sunroof, leather-wrapped steering wheel and gear selector, upgraded gauges, automatic climate control, aerodynamic side ground effects, front fog lights, rear spoiler, and a stainless steel exhaust tip on 4-door models. A 4.3-inch multi-function display – a fully bilingual system that is only available in Canada – offers a wide array of fuel consumption data as well as maintenance reminders. Also included in this system is a Vehicle Dynamics Control monitor that displays All-Wheel Drive in action on slippery surfaces.
For a small car like this, interior space is more than sufficient for four adults without sacrificing cargo space in the boot. The 2012 Impreza’s longer wheelbase has given an extra 50mm of legroom for rear-seat passengers. Tthe Impreza features 60/40 folding rear seatbacks for extra cargo room. The ride itself was comfortable and the Impreza took the little bumps in its stride riding on 17-inch smart alloy wheels.
Coming to the safety department, the new Impreza offers as standard equipment front seat side-impact air bags and side curtain air bags that offer additional head protection for front and rear occupants. The new driver’s front air bag offers added protection for drivers who position themselves close to the steering wheel. Immediately after deployment, the driver’s air bag spreads thin and wide, then thickens as deployment reaches completion. The passenger-seat front air bag features a shell-type design with a centre groove, thus decreasing the impact force upon deployment. All 2012 Impreza models add a new driver’s knee air bag to the roster of safety features. All 2012 Impreza models are also equipped with standard 4-wheel disc brakes with Subaru’s 4-wheel, 4-channel, 4-sensor Anti-lock Braking System (ABS) with Electronic Brake-force Distribution (EBD) and Brake Assist.
The Impreza comes in a variety of trims and starts at $19,995. With its offerings at this price, the all new Subaru Impreza will definitely give the competition a run for the money.