The Subaru Impreza is the smallest of the Subie pack and doesn’t compromise on the values of the brand. But does it succeed in being a good all-round car?

The Subaru Impreza is probably one of the best known Subarus thanks to 6 letters slapped to the back of earlier ones: WRX STI. Hailed for its rally capabilities it was a force to be reconned with. Sadly thanks to EU emission regulations the WRX STI has been pulled from a lot of markets. But now back to the Impreza.

Together with its SUV sibling, the XV, the Subaru Impreza is your entry ticket into the world of boxer engines. And you’ve got to love Subaru for sticking to their principles. Where most manufacturers nowadays are stepping away or bending their old principles, the recipe for a Subaru is still the same. A boxer engine sitting low down powering all four wheels through a symmetrical AWD system. (With the BRZ being an exception since it was co-developed with Toyota).

Japanese origins

The Impreza is only available in a hatchback form in the European market. It has a very distinct front end. The C-shaped LED headlights provide a sharp but not too aggressive looking front end. Running along the side it has these subtle arches which form a smooth flowing motion over the doors and onto the angular hips. The rear closes off the car in similar way with C-shaped taillights. It’s a very good looking car and especially in this Ice Silver Metallic it looks extra sleek.

Tech fest

What really sets Subaru aside from its competitors is what’s on the inside. It’s one of the few brands to use a boxer engine. The naturally aspirated 1.6L boxer in the Impreza puts out a respectable 114 hp and 150 Nm. Oh and it sits low, really low in the engine bay. Other advantages are durability and reliable performance. Along with that they provide a slightly different sound to what we’re used to which is always nice.

That boxer is linked to a CVT gearbox. For those who are not familiar with what that is. It is short for continuously variable transmission meaning that there’s not really a first, second, thirds,… But instead, the gearbox can go throughout the whole rev range in one smooth motion. It can also just accelerate whilst sticking to one single rpm.
It was my first time driving a car fitted with a CVT and it was a very weird experience. You’re used to cars climbing up the rev range, falling down in a higher gear and continuing the climb.
And I’m going to be honest. I’m still not a fan of it. It promises to optimize performance but it felt a little slow when you consider the power and weight it has.

From the CVT it runs to the characteristic Subaru Symmetrical AWD system which sticks to the asphalt like nothing else. The added traction increases safety in greasier conditions (rain & snow). We haven’t really gotten to test it but we’ll just throw in this video of the symmetrical AWD to show how good it is.

Zen

The Impreza offers a lot of features to increase comfort. The main one being the EyeSight driving support system. It’s built up from 2 stereo cameras found on both sides of the rearview mirror. These 2 cameras allow the Impreza to build up a 3D color image allowing it to work nearly as well as the human eye. In short: it’s your extra pair of eyes. This makes driving very relaxing on long drives thanks to adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning, lane keep assist, pre-collision braking system and pre-collision throttle management.
In terms of entertainment, you have the option of using the Subaru infotainment system or Apple Carplay and Android Auto. And all this is included in a base Impreza, quite impressive at this price point.

The chassis also knows well how to tackle both city driving and long distances. The suspension is so well damped that Bruges’ cobblestone roads almost go unnoticed. There is body roll but it rolls slowly that it’s hard to feel.
The seats would benefit from some more side support though as they are quite flat. Not so that you would send it on a backroad but just enough to give some support on faster bends.

So what’s the verdict?

I rarely see these on the road and driving it got me wondering why. It drives smoothly, the finish is good and it’s packed with features that are optional on most cars. The CVT is somewhat odd but I don’t think most people would mind this.
And considering a base price of just over 22.000 € it’s a heck of a deal compared to its rivals.