IMPREZA REBOOTED (some text hidden)
By Jonathan Crouch
New from the ground up, Subaru's fifth generation Impreza hatch smartens up its act but sticks with the brand's unique formula of Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive paired to a Boxer engine. Jonathan Crouch weighs up its chances.
Ten Second Reviewword count: 76
The fifth generation version of Subaru's Impreza brings four wheel drive traction within the affordable reach of family buyers who neither want or need any kind of SUV. It's a conventional Focus-sized family hatch with very unconventional underpinnings, the Symmetrical AWD system paired to uniquely-configured 1.6 and 2.0-litre petrol Boxer engines. Not a package likely to suit everyone but perfect perhaps for those in search of something that's just that little bit different in this segment.
Backgroundword count: 210
As you can see, this isn't an SUV. It's not even one of those trendy Crossover models you see so often these days, cars that seem to promise 4WD capability but usually don't deliver it. No, this is instead a means of affordable family transport that delivers everything you need - and nothing you don't. Like its predecessors, the fifth generation version of Subaru's Impreza is the only sensibly-priced C-segment model that delivers its power to all four wheels yet, on paper at least, there seem to be few compromises to make for that kind of all-weather capability. It's not overly expensive, it's tough and durable and, provided you're happy with a five-door hatchback bodystyle, it's just as practical as that comparably-sized ordinary 2WD Focus, Astra or Golf you might have been thinking about. True, there's no diesel engine option and the 1.6 and 2.0-litre petrol units you do get don't trouble the class front runners in terms of fuel consumption or cleanliness. Still, the running costs are affordable and you get a lot of extra standard features that you'd have to pay more money for if you went for the kind of cars I just mentioned. So, does it all add up? That's what we're here to find out.
Driving Experienceword count: 220
If for you, the idea of a 'Subaru Impreza' conjures up images of World Rally Championships, Sonic Blue paint, gold wheels and big spoilers, then you're probably no longer target market for this car. What does remain here though, are two genuine Impreza reliables, namely all-wheel drive and the flat-four 'Boxer' powerplants that I'll start by telling you about. In this case, given that there are no diesels this time round, we're talking of a 114PS 1.6-litre petrol unit or a 156PS 2.0-litre powerplant. Subaru's Lineartronic CVT automatic transmission is now a conditional part of ownership. Onto this car's other more important unique attribute, its 'Symmetrical AWD system' a package the brand has been perfecting since 1972. No other family hatchback in this class offers 4x4 traction and it's even a very rare feature to find in affordable compact Crossover models. Even better, this is a 'proper' four-wheel drive layout - by which I mean a set-up that constantly shunts power to each wheel, rather than, as with cheaper systems, simply reacting when the front wheels slip. As for handling, well Subaru claims the new chassis increases body rigidity by as much as 70% in comparison to the previous model. The centre of gravity has been lowered by 5mm, too, which the brand claims will boost handling, steering and responsiveness.
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Category: Compact Family Cars
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