The fifth generation Subaru Impreza represents a huge improvement over the last car, as it offers more space inside, a better cabin and surprisingly good road manners. It also looks a whole lot better, with sharp styling replacing a rather frumpy design.
The excellent EyeSight pre-collision driver assist system is fitted as standard, which contributes to a maximum five-star safety rating. It also scored the highest ever rating in Japanese crash testing.
It’s bigger, which translates to a more spacious cabin, while a more rigid body and a lowered ride height ensure that it’s actually pretty decent to drive. There are two petrol engines available – a 1.6-litre and a 2.0-litre – with steering wheel-mounted paddles on the larger engine the only specification difference between the two.
The key to getting the best out of the Subaru Impreza is to approach the CVT transmission with a light foot. Anything resembling a hard press on the accelerator pedal will result in lots of noise and very little action.
It’s far better to let the CVT do the work, although this is easier said than done in the 1.6-litre version, which feels very lethargic, especially when climbing hills. The 12.4 seconds it takes to sprint from 0-100kph only tells half the story – this car can feel painfully slow.
Things are slightly better in the 2.0-litre version, with the 0-62mph time dropping to 9.8 seconds and the top speed increasing to 127mph. The paddles make a huge difference, helping to deliver the impression that the Impreza has a dual-clutch transmission.
The interior feels more spacious than ever, helped in no small part by the additional width. This latest version also offers 26mm more rear seat legroom than before.
Up front, the driver will find it easy to find a good driving position, while there’s no shortage of space for the front seat passenger. Thanks to a recess carved into the roof lining, rear seat occupants will find plenty of headroom, while leg- and knee-room are perfectly adequate for a car of this size.
Adults can sit three abreast in the rear, although the transmission tunnel will make long journeys a little uncomfortable for middle seat passengers as there’s nowhere to place your feet.
Subaru is justifiably proud of its EyeSight technology, which is standard on the Impreza. The technology dates back to 2008 when it was launched as the world’s first safety device using stereo cameras. A decade on, EyeSight has been further developed and, in demonstrations, has proved to be very effective.
EyeSight comprises six pre-collision driver assist systems, namely: adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning, lane keep assist, pre-collision braking, pre-collision throttle management and steering assist, and lead vehicle start alert.
Blind spot monitoring, high beam assist, multiple airbags, rear cross traffic alert and a reversing camera are fitted as standard, plus you benefit from the security of having permanent four-wheel drive.