A niche choice, and likely to stay that way
- Standard kit and safety technology
- Good reliability
- Comfy ride
- Impressive practicality
- All-wheel drive flexibility
- Gutless engines
- Lacklustre transmission
- High fuel consumption and emissions
- Parts of cabin look and feel cheap
- How will the finance offers stack up?
The Subaru Impreza is a medium-sized family hatchback that the Japanese brand hopes will help the close the gap to its European rivals.
Despite enjoying a reputation for making rugged, dependable family cars Subaru is still seen as a distinctly left-field choice. Will this change with this Impreza? Read on to find out.
Only one trim level on offer
Unusually, the 2017 Impreza is only available with one trim level – SE. The good news is that it’s a generously kitted out spec with all of the equipment – bar sat-nav – most customers would want on medium-sized family car.
Dual-zone climate control, adaptive cruise control, Android Auto/Apple CarPlay, keyless entry/ignition, LED headlights and high-beam assist are all standard on the Impreza. And that’s before we get on to the levels of safety kit…
Extensive range of safety technology
Subaru talks proudly of its pioneering work in improving the safety of its cars, and it’s plain to see the effects of this on the Impreza. There’s a vast suite of safety equipment as part of the standard-fit EyeSight package, including autonomous emergency braking, lane-departure warning and lane-keeping assist.
Adding to this is the Subaru Rear Vehicle Detection System, bringing with it blindspot monitoring and rear-cross traffic alert. And while the Impreza is yet to be tested by European safety regulators Euro NCAP, it’s already performed exceptionally well in Canadian, Japanese and American crash tests.
Two petrol engines to choose from
Customers can choose between two petrol engines in the Impreza and, unfortunately, they are the weakest part of the car. The base 114hp 1.6-litre motor feels desperately slow and unrefined under load. And while the more powerful 156hp 2.0-litre is a little quicker, it’s just as noisy, making a real racket at anything more than half throttle.
Part of the issue comes from the standard-fit CVT transmission that’s sluggish to respond and relies on high amounts of revs to make any real progress. It’s smooth, but that’s its only real redeeming feature. A manual gearbox option would improve the car greatly.
Handling is safe and stable, but not fun
Turning into a sharp bend demonstrates the Impreza’s safe and stable handling down to a tee. Bodyroll is noticeable yet not excessive, plus there’s plenty of grip on offer to stop the car leaving your intended line. It’s not particularly good fun, though, with the Impreza feeling set up far more for comfort – something that it excels at.
There’s a lovely supple quality to the ride that feels pliant and well-damped in pretty much all conditions.
Passenger and luggage space is another of the Impreza’s strengths, with more than enough room for four adults in the cabin and ample capacity in the boot. Rear seats in place, the Impreza manages to outdo the Volkswagen Golf, Ford Focus and Vauxhall Astra for bootspace.
There’s also a good smattering of pockets and cubbyholes in the interior, with the particularly deep central armrest storage a welcome highlight.
The Parkers Verdict
Despite operating in an incredibly competitive sector of the market, the Impreza can still mix it with the class leaders in a number of crucial areas – yet it’s the overall package that lets it down. As while its reliability, safety, standard equipment and practicality levels are second-to-none, the Impreza needs to excel in every category to be considered among the best in class.
The lacklustre engines, transmission, efficiency and small matter of how much value for money it will cost on finance are the car’s biggest failings and need to be addressed in order for it to appeal to a wider market.