KISS, aka Keep It Simple Stupid, is exactly what Subaru did with the new Impreza.
I was impressed with the new Subaru when I took a turn in it at the local launch.
But what feels great at launch can often feel different when you’re driving it for a week - I spent a week in each of the three grades.
Not only were my initial impressions confirmed, but Impreza excelled.
The body comes in sedan or hatch form. The hatch implies a coupe form, as handsome as this profile is, the sedan does it for me.
The pert rump sports a smart set of tail lights with LED running lights up front.
It feels like it costs far more than it actually does.
On the top models, you can expect lots of goodies like: Adaptive Cruise Control with queue assist, Lane departure warning, Lane sway warning, Lead vehicle start alert, Pre-collision braking system, Pre-collision brake assist, Pre-collision throttle management, Pre-collision steering assist, Brake-light recognition, to name but a few.
Many of these features are provided by Subaru’s stereo cameras ‘Eyesight’ system.
This lofty perch affords good views of the way ahead and will see brake lights and pedestrians, and slam on the anchors if needed.
The smart cruise also uses the cameras to keep a respectful distance from the car in front and will slow you all the way down to a stop in traffic, all without fuss.
The many other warnings are not meant to take the place of driver awareness, but on a long trip these gadgets become life savers.
It is about now that a few little annoyances became apparent. In order to use CarPlay, I need to plug my iphone into the USB socket located behind the gear lever, but my size ten hand full of sausage fingers won’t fit into the dainty Japanese knick-knack cubby holes.
The cabin feels well laid out. Except for the USB ports, everything is extremely well designed.
The materials feel high-end and I particularly like the small LCD screen above the main infotainment unit. It allows some driver info to be displayed, while simultaneously showing functions such as sat-nav or CarPlay.
You’ll be able to navigate home by simply pressing and holding the voice button until you hear the Siri tone, then saying “navigate home”. It’s devilishly easy but requires cell reception to work.
The upper models also have inbuilt sat-nav just in case you’re out of luck with the phone.
The CVT is a much-improved version of the hideous “Screamers” of the past.
Under hard acceleration the transmission will use stepped ratios to simulate gears to prevent the engine from revving like a garden mulcher.
The engine has that familiar “chuff” we all expect from a flat four. The power has a nice linear delivery thanks to the absence of a turbo.
The ride is unbelievably good. You have to remind yourself you’re not in a limo, and the same goes for the quietness, even at speed. Subaru has gone to great lengths to deaden sound without adding much to the weight.
The steering is good, but is not as sharp as it is in the WRX.
We had a good range of driving situations from city chores, to country sprints. I took the top model sedan down the M5, through Bowral, and down the treacherously twisty Macquarie Pass and on to the sea.
Some of the drops off the side of Mac Pass will see your clothes out of fashion before you hit the bottom so sticky handling is essential.
The highway highlighted the big-car ride, and the twists of Mac Pass showed the sportiness of the Imprezas of old has not been lost.
You feel connected to the road without being beaten to death by it.
Potholes are ironed out with immaculate dampening, and almost none of the terrible banging disturbs the occupants.
This is a big call, but there wasn’t anything the Subaru Impreza didn’t do well. The ride and handling were exceptional with an almost OCD attention paid to build quality.
The price range of $22,400-$29,190 means excellent value even on the range-topper. It seems unbelievable that you can so many goodies in such a great package for such a good price.
Would I buy one? Yes, I’d buy the 2.0i-S. The active torque vectoring just adds that little bit of extra sparkle to cornering. I can’t think of another AWD car for this price.
NUTS and BOLTS - 2017 Subaru Impreza
- Engine: 2.0 litre petrol producing 116kW/196Nm
- Transmission: CVT automatic
- Warranty: Three years
- Safety: Five Stars
- Origin: Japan
- Price: from $24,990