|Photo by Curtis Reesor|
The Impreza is available as either a four-door sedan or a five-door hatchback, as seen here with the 2.0i Sport Premium. The Sport Premium is set apart from the other Impreza models by its gunmetal alloy wheels, roof rails, and fog lights.
I think the new design is handsome and sportier than the previous Impreza five door. A number of people commented to me about the new design saying it looks a bit like the larger Subaru Legacy, which is evident in the front end. A few people also think it looks a bit like Hyundai’s new Accent, which is evident from the back end. This Sport Premium model’s 17” gunmetal-colored wheels, which come with 205/50/17 tires, received nearly universal praise. I think it’s a good, fresh-looking car in all respects.
Speaking of looks, the new Impreza looks large. Parked next to my own Suzuki SX4, I didn’t think it was much bigger. However, upon some research, the Impreza is nearly a foot longer, measuring in at 173.8”. It is also about 132 lbs. heavier. Otherwise, many of the dimensions are quite similar to my SX4.
Inside, the Impreza is comfortable, solid, and generally improved compared to the previous model. What is very similar to the previous generation is the interior’s unflashy appearance. Although it’s attractive, it’s understated, and there’s a lot of black materials with hints of brushed aluminum finishes. There aren’t any bold design moves; no flashy interior tricks. It’s a no-nonsense approach, but very functional. The front seats are supportive and comfortable, and you sit in a low, reclined position. The gauges are easy to read, including the center-mounted temperature and fuel economy information. The stereo is straight forward (although someone generic looking), and sounds great. The common three-dial climate control is intuitive and simple. The trip computer displays temperature and fuel economy information, and there are steering wheel controls for audio and Bluetooth connectivity. This model also had heated cloth seats and a good amount of interior storage space.
Also new for 2012 is the engine: A 2.0-liter horizontally opposed “boxer” four cylinder making 148 hp and 145 ft./lbs. or torque. This is actually less power than the previous model, and by quite a bit. The last-gen Impreza made 170 hp and 170 ft./lbs. of torque. However, the new model delivers faster acceleration, but achieves better fuel economy. In fact, the 2012 Impreza is rated at 25 city and impressive 36 MPG highway. During my week with the car, I got right around 26 MPG, in mostly city driving. This is better than our ’10 Suzuki SX4 AWD with a manual transmission, which is rated at 22 city and 30 highway.
|We got a bit of snow just in time for photographing the Impreza. Photo by Curtis Reesor.|
Thanks to the combination of all-wheel drive, 17” wheels/tires, and sport-tuned suspension, the Impreza sticks well when the road gets “fun;” it’s entertaining to drive on the back roads. I felt as if the steering could be a bit quicker, and the car felt heavy at times in the corners, but again, this is not a WRX. I feel my Suzuki SX4 is a bit more flingable, but that may be due to its smaller size. The Impreza certainly feels like it pulls harder under throttle, and definitely has better throttle response than the SX4. The Impreza’s ride is on par with other compact cruisers, and the overall feel is very solid.
|Photo by Curtis Reesor.|
It’s good to know there is another option for those of us who are looking for smaller, affordable, efficient, AWD vehicles with manual transmissions, and this one is a must-drive for fellow fringe lunatics looking for just this type of vehicle.