We got our hands on the 2017 Subaru Impreza and while it looks like it got a slight update, the truth is that it has received a huge retooling for this generation. Here’s the lowdown.
The old Impreza was a solid but slightly boring compact. Despite it being the only affordable compact car on the market that came standard with all-wheel drive, it was missing a few important elements to help it stand above the rest of the segment.
For starters, it wasn’t very engaging to drive. All-wheel drive added surefootedness, but not fun. Then we have to talk about the interior — it looks like Subaru forgot to design an interior until the last second.
With the 2017 Subaru Impreza, the Japanese automaker took the opportunity to redo its compact, addressing its low points while hopefully maintaining or improving its advantages. We had a brief test of the new car, and here’s what we found was worth mentioning.
It Has an All-New Platform
First of all, the 2017 Subaru Impreza rides on a brand new platform, and it’s the first Subaru that will underpin the future of the brand’s lineup. While the car basically features a slightly revised engine and transmission from the last generation model, it has received a total bone transplant. The new modular architecture is a big deal for the automaker since it will underpin a variety of upcoming vehicles, including hybrids. The new platform has a number of benefits, especially in terms of performance, but buyers should know that the crash worthiness of the compact has been improved from the previous generation, as the new platform absorbs crash energy 40 percent better than the old one.
In terms of size, the Impreza is slightly larger than before, with a one-inch longer wheelbase, while overall length of the car is increased by 1.6 inches. Width is increased by 1.5 inches. Nearly half an inch has been chopped from the height, which is said to improve aerodynamics.
Fortunately, the new platform isn’t a mess, and the car is actually a blast to drive. Subaru says the new platform is 70 percent stiffer, and the car definitely feels sharper on the road. This is due to a revised rear suspension setup that sees the rear stabilizer bar mounted directly to the body. As a result, body roll is reduced by 50 percent when compared to the last Impreza.
And due to the boxer engine, the car features a low center of gravity, which also contributes to the car’s new responsive chassis. The Sport trim is now available on both sedan and five-door models and gets unique suspension tuning and active torque vectoring.
It’s Made in the U.S.
Subaru currently splits its production of cars between the U.S. and Japan, and the Impreza used to hit our market after being assembled in Gunma, Japan. For this new generation, though, the car gets the full U.S. treatment and will be made in Lafayette, Indiana.
The automaker invested $1.3-billion into the Lafayette plant over the past four years and hired an additional 1,400 staff in the past year. This indicates that the future of Subaru’s mainstream products – which are slated to use the new global architecture – will likely be made in the U.S. for years to come.
Since it’s a Subaru not called the BRZ, the Impreza will continue to have standard all-wheel drive. Engine output is slightly improved, now peaking at 152 hp instead of 148. That small increase won’t change your life, but the transmission has been improved as well and makes a bigger difference. While a manual transmission is still expected in the near future, we had a chance to drive the CVT-equipped model. Still capable of delivering 32 mpg combined, this all-wheel drive model returns some impressive fuel economy.
Higher trim levels of the Impreza gain a new feature for the CVT. It can now swap between seven pre-set gear ratios and can be switched between gears using paddles mounted on the steering wheel. This is an interesting evolution from what we’ve seen in turbocharged Subarus in the past, as the WRX and Forester XT featured the ability to switch between six or eight preset ratios depending on which drive mode they’re in.
The Interior is Drastically Better
The most improved part of the new Impreza is the interior. As mentioned before, the past model had a boring, unimpressive cabin. Almost everything felt like an afterthought, like the low-resolution displays and unimpressive materials. But the new model has a completely reworked and modern interior. There’s nice leather seats in higher trim models, with slick carbon-fiber-esque trim.
The displays also look much cleaner. The multifunction display is bright and easy to read, and there’s a pair of displays in the center of the dash that are also solid. The StarLink infotainment system seems a bit more responsive, and now includes Apple CarPlay and Android Auto support. It seems like the automaker took all the criticisms about the interior of the last model, and addressed each one. For example, the location of heated seat controls has been moved to a more convenient location.
Starting at $19,215 USD or $19,995 CAD for a base Impreza five-speed sedan, and climbing to $29,260 USD or $30,995 CAD for a fully loaded CVT-equipped Impreza five-door, the latest generation of Subaru compact is still a mighty fine bargain. It’s much improved in every conceivable way, and we can’t wait to have it for an extended test drive.
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