2019 Subaru Impreza – Can it compete in such a competitive market class?
The Subaru Impreza is a small family hatchback which began life back in 1992. For years the Impreza has been competing against the likes of VW Golf, Vauxhall Astra and Ford Focus. However, the Impreza gained legendary status and a cult following, thanks to its success in the World Rally Championships. The iconic Subaru Impreza WRX STi is a firm favourite amongst petrolheads and teenagers alike.
Subaru decided to split the performance WRX models from the standard Impreza range. It began focusing more on comfort and safety, rather than power and performance for the family orientated models.
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Engine, Power and Performance
The Subaru Impreza comes with a choice of two naturally aspirated petrol boxer engines. The entry-level is a 1.6-litre, four-cylinder unit, which develops 112hp and 150Nm of torque. Next is the more powerful 2.0-litre, four-cylinder unit, which generates 154hp and 196Nm of torque. The 1.6-litre engine will get from 0-62mph in 12.4secs and hit a top speed of 112mph, while the 2.0-litre will hit 0-62mph in 9.8secs and go on to a top speed of 127mph. These are not the most impressive figures, especially when compared to some of its rivals like the Ford Focus and VW Golf. The introduction of a turbocharged or hybrid engine would be a great improvement and increase the appeal of the Subaru.
Both engines are mated to Subaru's Automatic Lineartronic CVT gearbox, to give smooth gear changes when driving around town or cruising along country roads. Each Impreza model comes with Subaru's highly impressive Active Torque Split AWD system to increase stability, handling and performance, even in difficult weather conditions.
The engines and transmission are suited more to low speed, casual city driving, not exuberant driving, due to the lack of power even in the 2-litre unit. The automatic transmission can be a bit delayed, which can make you think twice when attempting a quick overtake. Having to work the engines so hard to overtake or get up to speed also impacts the fuel economy, as well as being rather noisy.
Interior Quality and Technology
The interior of the Impreza is the typical Subaru style; functional, hard wearing and long-lasting. However, it's not the most luxurious, unlike most of its rivals such as the VW Golf. The interior is more rugged and robust with Subaru sticking to their roots, making practical and dependable cars both inside and out. I like the simplicity and usability of the Impreza, as its a welcome change to the usual tech-filled gadgetry found in most modern-day cars. It makes you feel like your in charge of the vehicle and its controls, not a computer. I tip my hat to Subaru.
The Impreza is only available in one trim level, the SE, with very few optional extras. Although you do get a large selection of standard equipment, most of which would come at an extra cost in most rival models. The Subaru infotainment system is an upgrade to the previous model and features an eight-inch multi-functional colour touchscreen. It's very responsive, clear and easy to use. Some of the standard features include; Smartphone Mirroring with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, LED Steering Responsive Headlights, reversing camera and dual-zone automatic air-con, to name just a few.
The front seats are heated and adjustable, with the driver seat being six-way manually adjustable to help find that perfect driving position. The Steering wheel is adjustable, both up, down, in and out. There is a small digital screen in between the speedometer and rev counter, displaying information such as fuel consumption. Above the 8-inch touchscreen is a 4.3-inch LCD multi-information display, which shows details such as the outside temperature and clock. The one item the Impreza does not get is a Sat-Nav system and nor is there an option to have one. Subaru believes that most customers will use their mobile phones as their sat-nav device. I am not sure about this one, as I would personally prefer to have an integrated sat-nav system rather than connecting with my phone.
Space, Practicality and Safety
The Impreza has a generous amount of space in the cabin. Upfront the seats are big, soft and very comfortable with a good range of manual adjustments. There is plenty of leg and headroom to accommodate 6ft+ adults with ease. All controls are in easy reach of the driver to reduce distraction. In the back, there is again a generous amount of head and legroom. The Impreza is undoubtedly on a par with the Ford Focus and VW Golf in this respect.
The boot is relatively generous with a capacity of 385-litres and 1565-litres with the rear seats folded down. It trumps the Ford Focus and VW Golf but narrowly misses out to the Honda Civic and cavernous class-leading Skoda Octavia. There's ample storage scattered throughout the Impreza including; a large glovebox, large door pockets, cupholders and large centre cubby underneath the armrest.
In recent years, Subaru have been focusing much of their attention on safety. The Impreza is no different, with a vast array of top-spec safety assists and features as standard across the models.
The Subaru Impreza scored a top 5-star rating at the Euro NCAP safety tests scoring high in all categories. Unlike most of its rivals, the Impreza is loaded with safety features as standard, with two main packages featuring various safety assists. Firstly there's the Subaru Rear Vehicle Detection system with blindspot monitoring, lane change assist and rear cross-traffic alert. Second is the EyeSight system with Lane Keep Assist, Adaptive Cruise Control, Pre-Collision Braking and Lane Sway and Departure Warning. There are countless others, which combine to make the Subaru Impreza one of the safest family hatchbacks available today.
The Subaru Impreza is a well-packaged and reliable car with good all-round versatility. Is the Impreza as good or impressive as the main contenders in the family hatchback market? No would be my answer. Although the Impreza offers a fantastic list of standard features and all-round practicality to rival most of its competitors, it just doesn't perform as well and is too expensive. The Impreza is crying out for a little more power to utilise the superb chassis and AWD system. The introduction of a hybrid version could be a real game-changer in its performance, overall fuel economy and emission levels. So watch this space...