More of the same from safe and secure compact Subaru
Logging into the Subaru website, the friendly young lady in the chat tells you the Impreza is “built for fun”.
Marketing has been hard at work there.
While the Impreza — available in sedan and hatch — is a fine little offering, those shopping in this realm are typically chasing ‘A to B’ transport. Reliability, safety and fuel efficiency are among the vital priorities.
When it comes to ticking those boxes, the Impreza is at the forefront.
Those chasing “fun” would be better suited to the turbocharged WRX at the top-of-the-range tree, anyone wanting something more sedate wouldn’t be unhappy with the Impreza line-up which has been refreshed for 2020.
We jumped into the top-shelf 2.0i-S hatch version, which can land in your driveway for $35,300.
All Imprezas now have a new grille, front bumper and fog light design, as well as an ability to change the personality of the engine and transmission between ‘I’ mode for saving fuel and ‘S’ that’s dedicated to more sporting performance.
The 2.0i-S gains some additional kit as part of the 2020 update, like LED headlights, power folding mirrors, front and side camera views, electric memory for the driver’s seat and fancier piano black finishes around the dual-zone aircon controls.
You also get bigger 18-inch alloys (up from 17s) and leather accented seats, but it’s the same eight-inch touchscreen boasting satnav and partnered to a six-speaker stereo with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto that you’ll also find in lower grades. It also comes with push-button start, electric sunroof as well as the rare inclusion of a CD player.
Colour choices are white, silver, red, two shades of blue, black and the new inclusion of grey. Metallic paint is inclusive, so no additional costs. Interior hues are black or ivory.
Warranty coverage is five years and unlimited kilometres, which is now the standard across mainstream brands. Capped price servicing is also available over five years with intervals annual or every 12,500km. The average cost is $486 which is at the higher end of the scale and more expensive than a Toyota Corolla or Mazda3.
Subaru has always beat the all-wheel drive drum — only the sport rear-drive BRZ throws a spanner in those works.
Cameras now provide side and front views for improved parking vision, combining with the rear and front cameras. The five-star rating is maintained, with technology that applies the brakes automatically if a collision is detected when travelling forward and reverse (many AEB systems only work when travelling forwards).
The full EyeSight package is also standard, inclusive of radar cruise control that keeps a set distance from other vehicles, lane keeping assistant helps maintain the Impreza within painted road lines and functionality which monitors the driver and warns if their eyes stray from the road for a prolonged period.
Steering wheel buttons and toggles can be an initial assault on the senses but the interior design is sensible and straightforward.
Once accustomed to the central dual display set-up — trip and vehicle information features in the small top screen while the lager touchscreen is dedicated to entertainment — it’s easy to navigate through functions.
Leather-trimmed seats (front pair can heat your butt and back on cold days) and provide a level of opulence you’d expect for $35k. Infotainment usability is one of the simplest around and phone connection is fast.
The interior is roomy, with ample space capable of accommodating four adults. Three across the back bench seat can be done for short journeys.
Boot space is reasonable, and the rear seats fold so it’s capable of handling sports equipment or getting smaller household items home from the shop.
Good cup (dual front and back) and bottle holders (each door), as well as storage nooks through the console enable easy positioning of phones, keys and other items.
Solid and consistent, there isn’t anything too inspiring coming from under the bonnet.
Sure-footed courtesy of the permanent all-wheel set-up, the Impreza handles daily activities without fanfare.
Switching between I and S modes changes the throttle and transmission response. It doesn’t transform from a turtle to a hare.
The four-cylinder engine is partnered to a continuously variable automatic transmission, and it can struggle to meet driver expectations when you flex your right ankle. Ask for heavy acceleration and the Impreza can whine as it builds up pace.
Maintain steady throttle and the hatch moves along nicely, rarely raising a sweat, while it feels well controlled when sawing from left to right on twisty rural roads.
Fuel consumption can be heavy for a small car, and we averaged just over eight litres for every 100km.
Keeping the family safe is at the forefront of my mind, and this hatch boasts the best latest kit in a good-looking package.
Japanese build quality, leather trim as well as a big touchscreen, throw in all-wheel drive and that provides all the excitement I need from my hatchback.
Toyota Corolla ZR $36,350 D/A
Smaller than the Impreza with less rear leg room and only a 300L boot, but an excellent drive. Boasts impressive dynamics and powered by a 126kW/ 203Nm 2.0-litre 4-cyl, with fuel consumption of about 6.0L/100km.
Mazda3 G25 GT $37,775 D/A
Good-looking compact offering, but has moved up in the mainstream world. The interior feels a step above, but so does the price. Powered by a 139kW/252Nm 2.5L 4-cyl with average fuel consumption of 6.3L/100km.
Excitement levels remain subdued behind the wheel. Yet the Impreza is solid and reliable, while remaining comfortable and one of the safest hatches on the market.
AT A GLANCE
SUBARU IMPREZA 2.0I-S
PRICE $35,300 drive-away (top of the Impreza tree)
WARRANTY/SERVICING 5yr unlim’ km w’ty (fine); $2433 5 yrs (hefty)
ENGINE 2.0-litre 4-cyl boxer 115kW/196Nm (honest)
SAFETY 5 stars, 7 airbags, AEB, reverse auto braking, blind spot monitoring, radar cruise, eyesight monitor (excellent)
THIRST 7.2L/100km (8.1 on test)
SPARE Space saver (standard)
BOOT 345L/795 (good)