Parkers overall rating: 3.4 out of 5 3.4
  • Two petrol engines on offer
  • Available in 1.6- and 2.0-litre form
  • All-wheel drive and auto transmissions standard

Subaru Impreza: which engines does it have?

Unusually for a car in this class, the Impreza’s two non-turbocharged petrol engines are only available with an automatic CVT transmission. All-wheel drive is also standard throughout the range.

Petrol engines

The base engine is a 114hp 1.6-litre petrol capable of 0-62mph in 12.4 seconds and onto a top speed of 112mph. Torque is rated at 150Nm.

Upgrade to the 156hp 2.0-litre engine and acceleration is improved, taking 9.8 seconds to reach 62mph. Top speed is 127mph, while torque is 196Nm.

Subaru Impreza: driving impressions

What you’ll make of both engines depends largely on how you drive. When slowly trundling around the 1.6- and 2.0-litre units are quiet and smooth, but depress the throttle pedal any further than halfway and serious shortfalls start to arise.

Both engines are loud and gutless, delivering laborious performance – not helped by the slow-to-react CVT transmission. As a result overtakes need to be planned well in advance to avoid any close calls and even if the driver shifts down through the simulated gears (only possible on 2.0-litre models with paddleshifters) the power is rarely delivered with any real urgency.

The 2.0-litre is predictably the superior engine, offering a much needed extra bit of speed, but make no mistake – what’s under the bonnet of the Impreza is by far its weakest area.

Boxer engine is flatter and can be mounted lower in the Subaru Impreza for better handling

  • All-wheel drive as standard
  • Large reserves of outright grip
  • Safe rather than sporty

Subaru Impreza: how does it drive?

The Impreza’s handling is firmly weighted towards being safe and stable with only limited amounts of fun to be had behind the wheel. In the wet or dry it’s unlikely to do anything that might catch the driver out, not least because of the considerable amount of grip on offer. Push on past the limit of adhesion and the electronic safety systems cut in aggressively, reducing power to the wheels.

Traction coming out of bends in the dry is flawless thanks to the all-wheel drive system and lack of grunt on offer. We’ve not had a chance to try the Impreza in the wet yet, however the benefit of having power sent to all four wheels – instead of the standard two – will be felt most in slippery conditions.

New Subaru Impreza handles well

Turn into a bend and the comfort-biased chassis provides a noticeable – but not excessive – amount of bodyroll (where the body of the car leans away from the corner). The steering is well-weighted and sensitive to inputs, yet there’s little feel of the road transmitted through to the driver’s hands.  

Brake hard in a straight line or into a bend and the Impreza is again very predictable, staying true to its intended line. With the lack of power plus high levels of grip and outright stability, the Impreza is a hard car to lose control of.

Off-roading in the Impreza

We’re yet to drive the Subaru Impreza off-road, however if the capability of previous models is anything to go by this new car should have no trouble on a gravel track or muddy field. The standard all-wheel drive system is constantly sending power to all four wheels, unlike some rivals that only distribute power to all four wheels if a loss of traction is detected.

Our only real concern would be the lowered ground clearance over the previous-generation Impreza, something that could limit its effectiveness over bumpy surfaces.