Car Reviews

2017 Subaru Impreza review

Isaac Bober’s first drive 2017 Subaru Impreza review with pricing, specs, performance, ride and handling, safety, verdict and score.

In a nutshell: The all-new Subaru Impreza is the first application of Subaru’s new global platform and delivers a more dynamic drive and more premium cabin feel.

2017 Subaru Impreza

Pricing From $22,400+ORC Warranty three years, unlimited kilometres Service Intervals 12,500km or 12 months Safety 5 star ANCAP Engine 2.0-litre four-cylinder Boxer petrol Power 115kW at 6000rpm Torque 196Nm at 4000rpm Transmission CVT Drive permanent all-wheel drive (default 60:40 split) Dimensions Sedan: 4625mm (L); 1775mm (W); 1540mm (H); Hatch: 4460mm (L); 1775mm (W); 1540mm (H) Turning Circle 10.6m Kerb Weight 1386kg-1438kg Fuel Tank 50L Thirst 6.6-7.2L/100km

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Editor's Rating

What's it like inside?
What's it like on the road
What about safety features?
Practical Motoring Says: The new Impreza is better looking inside and out, and much better to drive than ever before. In fact, I’d go so far as to say it’s the best driving car in its class, it’s also probably the quietest, and it’s the only one in the segment with permanent all-wheel drive. Sure, it’s a shame the entry-level Impreza doesn’t get EyeSight, but it’s available in the 2.0i-L which lists from $24,490+ORC and that’s impressive. Subaru is hoping for big things from the new Impreza, and they’ve every right to be quietly confident. It’s a cracker.

THE ALL-NEW SUBARU Impreza was launched in Australia this week with Subaru claiming it’s the brand’s most important vehicle in decades. See, the new Impreza is the brand’s first outing for its new global platform which, going forward, will be used under everything from Impreza to Forester and Outback.

More than just being the debut of its new platform, the new Impreza marks, the Japanese car maker says, a step-up in quality and connectivity. Marketing materials claim the new Impreza is only 95% all-new, but the company says the only common bits between this new car and the old one are some nuts and bolts here and there, meaning that everything you look at and touch is brand spanking new.

2017 Subaru Impreza 2.0i sedan and 2.0i-S hatch
2017 Subaru Impreza 2.0i sedan and 2.0i-S hatch

The new Impreza went on-sale in October with Subaru claiming 700 pre-orders; deliveries are beginning this month. Besides the interest in the new Impreza, it’s worth making note of the new 12,500km/12-month capped price servicing schedule, a program that will surely roll out across all new Subaru models (the next to arrive will be the XV towards the middle of next year). Indeed, according to Subaru, “In the first three years of the CPS, the total cost of servicing new generation Impreza is $1298.19, which is $918.86 less than the superseded model”.

While some might argue there’s little difference between the two cars as far as exterior looks go, I’d argue the new one looks more sophisticated than its predecessor, especially the 2.0i-S variant (pictured) which gets steering responsive headlights and LED daytime running lights and 18-inch alloys. The new Impreza sits 10mm lower and is 35mm wider than its predecessor, and is available in both hatch and sedan variants.

2017 Subaru Impreza key features:

Impreza 2.0i

  • New generation touchscreen infotainment system featuring: Apple CarPlay; and Google Android Auto
  • Tyre pressure warning light 

  • 17-inch alloy wheels

Impreza 2.0i-L adds (to 2.0i specification):

  • 8-inch touchscreen 

  • Premium cloth trim 

  • Dual zone fully automatic air conditioning 

  • Electric folding mirrors with integrated indicators 

  • EyeSight driver assist 

  • Front fog lights with integrated Daytime Running Lights (DRL) 

  • Leather accented trim steering wheel and gear shift 

  • Tyre pressure monitoring system 

  • Upgraded Multi-Function Display

Impreza 2.0i-Premium adds (to 2.0i-L specification):

  • Electric sunroof 

  • Factory fitted SatNav powered by TomTom

Impreza 2.0i-S adds (to 2.0i-Premium specification):

  • Active Torque Vectoring 

  • Automatic head lights 

  • Automatic front wipers 

  • Heated front seats 

  • Heated mirrors 

  • Leather accented trim 

  • Power driver’s seat 

  • Side skirts 

  • Steering responsive LED head lights with integrated DRLs 

  • Vision Assist features: Blind Spot Monitoring; Lane Change Assist; and Rear Cross Traffic Alert
  • 18-inch wheel – pattern unique to the variant.

2017 Subaru Impreza pricing – Excluding on-road costs

 

Sedan

Hatch

2.0i

$22,400

$22,600

2.0i-L

$24,490

$24,690

2.0i-Premium

$26,290

$26,490

2.0i-S

$28,990

$29,190

What’s it like inside?

The new Subaru Impreza is 35mm wider than its predecessor, has a 25mm longer wheelbase, sits 10mm lower, and gets 29mm more shoulder room in the front and 34mm in the back with 26mm more legroom for backseat passengers. In a nutshell, it means there’s more room inside the new Impreza than the old one, and noticeably so.

But it’s likely to be the dashboard and quality of the materials used inside the car that you’ll notice first. Gone are the days when Subaru used to use, or so it seemed, the same plastic as that used in lunchboxes for its interiors.

MY17 Subaru Impreza 2.0i-S hatch interior.
MY17 Subaru Impreza 2.0i-S hatch interior.

Feel around the dash and there’s good-quality soft-touch plastics, and even where hard plastics have been used, like on the transmission cover leading into the centre console box (which is nicely padded), and the dials for climate control, it’s all nicely textured and feels good to the touch. Indeed, the quality of the materials used is on-par with anything out of the VW Group which is widely considered the gold standard when it comes to interior quality.

The dash is simply laid out with, thankfully, climate control functions (all models above 2.0i offer voice control for heating and cooling) separated from the infotainment touchscreen. Depending on the model, you’ll get either a 6.5- or 8.0-inch touchscreen that behaves much like a smartphone and features both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity. The layout of the system is very simple; it’s very unlikely you’ll get lost using this system, but we’ll perform a full test of it when we’ve got the thing for longer than a morning.

The screen itself is pushed up towards the top of the dashboard making it easy to glance across at while driving and use on the fly. It was a bright sunny day for the local launch and the screen remained easy to see even in direct sunlight. More than that, the virtual ‘buttons’ are nice and big, making them easy to target on the move and offer a sensitivity that’s just about perfect. There’s a USB and 12V outlet in the centre console.

MY17 Subaru Impreza 2.0i-S hatch interior.

The front seats are nice and comfortable and there’s plenty of adjustment on them meaning drivers of all sizes will be able to get comfortable behind the wheel. The front seats now slide further, up from 240mm to 260mm, and there’s more space between the seat and the underside of the dash below the steering wheel making it easier to get in and out of the Impreza. The steering offers reach and rake, both of which offer considerably more travel than the old model.

Subaru said it had worked hard to make the back seats, well, the two outboard ones at least, as comfortable on long journeys as the front seats. And it might well have. I didn’t get a chance to travel in the back seat at the local launch but there’s certainly plenty of leg and knee room (thanks to the front seat backs being 27mm thinner). Indeed, the slide rails for the front seats have been pushed further apart by 66mm and seen the height between the floor and the underside of the front seat rise by 12mm, meaning backseat passengers get more foot room than before.

2017 Subaru Impreza review

Getting into and out of the back is easy and while the door trim is now thinner, to increase interior space, the arm rests are bigger and more padded than before making them properly usable for both front and backseat passengers.

What about headroom? Well, I’m just under six-feet tall and I found headroom acceptable, and on-par with key competitors in the space, like Mazda3 and VW Golf.

The boot space offers an extra five litres of storage, taking it to 345 litres (for the hatch and 460L in the sedan), but the space is easier to use now thanks to the opening on both the hatch and sedan being wider. Drop the back seats down and boot space grows to 795 litres in the hatch. Quality touches include sturdy eyelets that click back into place when not being used, and a system that allows you to angle up the rear of the boot floor to hide odds and ends away from prying eyes without being obvious about it.

2017 Subaru Impreza review

Underneath the boot floor is a space saver spare only, and that’s standard across the range with no full-size option available. That said, looking at the boot floor, it’s obvious that Subaru will be able to include a full-size spare beneath the floor for the XV (all Subaru SUVs get a full-size spare) and only give-away a small amount of storage space. It will also mean that when the 60:40 split-fold rear seats are folded down (there are toggles on top of the outboard seats which you simply lift to fold down the seats) the floor will be flat. On the Impreza there’s a lip up when the seats are folded down.

What’s it like on the road?

The improvements to the interior and connectivity are impressive, but it’s the chassis, thanks to the new global platform, that’s the defining feature.

The local launch of the Impreza was held on some tight and twisting backroads around Canberra that were littered with humps and bumps; the kinds of roads that will very quickly show up a chassis shortcomings. That the Impreza ate up the roads is testament to just how good Subaru’s new global platform is, and just how epic it will be when the all-new WRX hits the road.

For a start, the new platform is an impressive 70-100% stiffer than the chassis under the old Impreza, and thanks to ride and handling work carried out in Australia, we get our own tune which is slightly sportier than other markets, or so Subaru Australia told us.

MY17 Subaru Impreza 2.0i-S hatch.

While most Imprezas will get their hardest workout on the school run and schlepping about in traffic, it’s nice to know that Subaru’s ‘fun to drive’ claim for the new Impreza isn’t just marketing nonsense. On tight and twisting corners, the new Impreza impresses with minimal body roll, improved bump control and stability when flowing from a left- into a right-turning corner.

Parts of the road we drove across had massive out-of-nowhere bumps in them that saw the thing get very light indeed, however it settled comfortably and quickly, and without bobbing. And no matter how hard the hit the suspension dealt with it admirably, with almost nothing making it through to the chassis or, thus, into the cabin. Subaru claims a 50% reduction in vibration through the rear suspension, and I’d believe it.

The steering is well weighted, consistent and direct in its action with enough feel to elevate the Impreza from being mere transport. The straight-ahead feel is good at highway speed with weight and response building nicely in the first few degrees off centre.

MY17 Subaru Impreza 2.0i-S hatch.

The brake pedal feels like the pedal’s travel has been reduced but the action remains nice and progressive, meaning it’s easy to bleed speed without having the passenger head-bang the dashboard.

At the launch, I was able to sample both the 2.0i-P and 2.0i-S, the latter gets torque vectoring which shuffles torque away from the side losing grip and applies the brakes to the inside wheels to help keep the car turning into the corner.

Perhaps that’s testament to the inherent grip provided by Subaru’s permanent all-wheel drive system which runs a default 60:40 drive split (front:rear) and the Bridgestone Potenzas it’s shod with. This driver would have run out of talent long before the Impreza ran out of grip.

2017 Subaru Impreza review

While the new Impreza is much more agile than ever before, it’s not a whole lot more powerful. The 2.0-litre four-cylinder Boxer engine has been overhauled to make it more efficient and 10% lighter, but the engineers could only liberate an extra 5kW, bringing output up to 115kW at 6000rpm while torque is unchanged at 196Nm at 4000rpm.

All Imprezas are equipped with CVT only, but it’s a brand new CVT that gets simulated seven-gear ratios (up from six) when in manual-shift mode and while CVTs aren’t everyone’s cup of tea, Subaru’s is easily the best on the market. Left to its own devices and driven at about seven-tenths, the Impreza’s transmission is smooth and responsive, and only on long, steep hills does it feel like more torque wouldn’t go astray, but we’ll reserve ultimate judgement until we’ve had the car for a longer test and loaded it up with the family.

MY17 Subaru Impreza 2.0i-S hatch.

In manual mode and using the steering-mounted paddles, the transmission is responsive and absolutely does feel like you’re firing through ‘real’ gear ratios.

One thing that particularly stuck out was how quiet the new Impreza is with virtually no wind or suspension noise leaking into the cabin. Sure, there’s some road noise across course surfaces but it’s generally a much quieter place to be than ever before.

What about the safety features?

The new Subaru Impreza carries a five-star ANCAP rating, realising 35.80 out of 37 in testing. Subaru claims the design of its global platform and the strength of it mean the Impreza can achieve a maximum safety score up to 2025.

The Impreza offers standard active and passive safety features, including permanent all-wheel drive, stability and traction control, airbags (dual front, side, curtain and driver’s knee), and reversing camera (with guidelines that move as the wheel is angled – a first for any Subaru model). Both mid- and top-spec models add Subaru’s clever EyeSight system to the mix which uses stereo cameras at the top of the windscreen to monitor the road ahead (they provide a 35-degree field of view to the front and can see out to around 100m). Featuring the third-generation EyeSight system means it can ‘see’ in colour and thus recognise brake lights, when they’re on or off.

MY17 Subaru Impreza 2.0i-S hatch interior.

The top-spec Impreza gets Vision Assist features, including blind spot monitoring, lane change assist and rear cross traffic alert.

Why you’d buy one

Because you want something small-ish to get around town but with the added safety benefit of all-wheel drive. The new Impreza is more expensive than its key rivals, but none of them get all-wheel drive and permanent all-wheel drive, particularly in the wet, is worth its weight in gold. Add to that the fact the new Impreza gets EyeSight, is more agile and comfortable than ever before with the best quality interior it’s ever had. And, now the service schedules have been pushed out to 12 months or 12,500km you’ll save money.

MY17 Subaru Impreza 2.0i-S hatch.


Isaac Bober

Isaac Bober

Isaac Bober was born in the shadow of Mount Panorama in Bathurst and, so, it was inevitable he’d fall into work as a motoring writer. He began his motoring career in 2000 reviewing commercial vehicles, before becoming editor of Caravan & Motorhome magazine. He then moved to MOTOR Magazine before going freelance and contributing to Overlander 4WD, 4×4 Australia, TopGear Australia, Men’s Health, Men’s Fitness, The Australian, CARSguide, and many more.