With two large handfuls of compact cars to compete with (nearly two dozen by my count) and perennial class leaders constantly flexing their muscles, it would be a daunting task to dethrone those at the top.
But in the competitive automotive landscape, each manufacturer is trying to build a better, stronger, more attractive mousetrap, so to speak.
While the Mazda 3s and Toyota Corollas are commonplace on the road, the Subaru Impreza is quietly working its way up the ladder.
I’ll start with this: 97% of all Subarus sold in the past 10 years are still on the road today (figures as of June 30, 2014). Impressive, isn’t it?
Maybe that’s why you’re not seeing as many new Subaru’s on the road as you’d think. You’re likely seeing the same ones over and over again due to their longevity and reliability. And of course, happy owners. Or happy second and third owners.
I’m surprised Subaru doesn’t splash that figure in an oversized and glowing font across every single print and digital ad.
Or it could be that according to www.alg.com, Subarus hold their value better than all other mainstream brands in Canada, which is also something to be quite proud of. So when and if Subaru drivers decide to part with their car, they’ll receive strong value for it.
And then there’s this: Subaru is the only manufacturer with a maintenance guide for up to 500,000 km.
They want the cars driven so much that they’ve mapped out maintenance route for you to get there.
I wonder if they had words with my old 1987 Volvo 240DL that nearly hit half a million clicks.
Enough about how impressive Subaru is on paper; Let’s see what it’s like in a practical application.
The 2015 Impreza is Subaru’s offering in the active compact sedan market. With a sedan and hatch to choose from, their initial strategy is bang on by giving choice to the polite yet sometimes picky Canadians. My tester was the sedan so keep that in mind as you read on.
All Imprezas are given a 148 horsepower engine and 145 lb-ft of torque, all-wheel drive and the Subaru BOXER engine and is available with a CVT or 5-speed manual transmission. I can feel some of you cringing after reading “CVT”. But hold on a minute, would ya? Subaru’s CVT isn’t bad. In fact, I found it to be good. There. I said it. Just like I said it about the new Maxima. But to have a good CVT through 145 lb-ft of torque isn’t easy to do. It still has decent pickup and a smooth, energetic feel to it for a CVT. I got on the highway worry-free and was able to move around slower moving trucks with confident grace. Fuel efficiency is the concern for most new car purchasers and at the end of the day, the CVT helps produce cost saving figures. For city vs highway consumption, the autobox gets 8.5/6.4 L/100km and the DIY-box gets 9.5/7.0
The ride quality is very comfortable, handling receives high marks and the Impreza is obedient in taking direction from the driver.
Styling of the sedan and hatch are attractive (I personally prefer hatch’s stance) and there’s a conservative-esque beauty about them. The front end is styled nicely as is the rear with larger brake lights making it easy for other drivers to see when you’re stopping.
Inside, there’s an available 7-inch touchscreen infotainment system complete with GPS and SMS capabilities. There’s a standard 6.2-inch touchscreen for those who don’t select the “Limited” package. The larger screen was easy to navigate and provided clear readings for me and most importantly, I didn’t have to hammer my fingers on the screen to produce a response. Audio quality is good as well through an iPhone, CD and the radio.
The EyeSight technology (cool name, Subaru!) is only available on “Sport” and “Limited” trims and offers a host of safety features, including pre-collision braking and brake assist, pre-collision throttle management, adaptive cruise control, lane sway warming and others.
I’d like to see EyeSight as a standard feature on all trims over the next few years. I don’t think charging a bit extra for it would be met with the oxymoronic “angry Canadian”. With more cars on the road than ever before, the chances of a collision are also increased.
Bluetooth and a backup camera are, however, standard on all 2015 Impreza’s and that’s a great touch in this class.
Aside from the 2.0i and 2.0i Touring package, there’s a 4.3 inch colour screen above the centre console giving you fuel consumption information.
The seats are comfortable but I could’ve used more thigh support. Not much, maybe an inch or so. And the same goes for side support. I’m not looking for Recaro racing seats…but for skinny chicken legs, I’d appreciate them.
Also, all 2015 Imprezas come with a six-way manually adjustable driver’s seat, regardless of cloth or leather, which was a bit surprising. With all of the great technology jammed in there and a great fit and finish, it was hard to believe that power seats weren’t even an option.
If that’s my only real “oh, I wasn’t expecting that” moment, I wouldn’t classify it being a deal breaker for potential buyers.
Overall, the Impreza is a well put together vehicle from a company that’s made a name for itself on its SUV’s and WRX’s.
They’ve given buyers six model trims each (sedan and hatch) ranging from about $20K to nearly $30K so there’s a good chance buyers will find something to their liking.
Subaru has a large hill to climb to knock of the usual suspects. They’re going about it the right way by producing a solid offering that’s got good looks, great technology and bathed in confidence.
2.0i Touring Package $21,695
2.0i Sport Package $23,895
2.0i Sport Package with Technology option $26,395
2.0i Limited Package $26,895
2.0i Limited Package with Technology option $29,395
2.0i Touring Package $22,595
2.0i Sport Package $24,795
2.0i Sport Package with Technology option $27,295
2.0i Limited Package $27,795
2.0i Limited Package with Technology option $30,295
Yay: Styling, CVT is responsive and surprisingly fun to drive, standard Bluetooth and backup camera on all models, comes with a reputation for longevity
Nay: No power seats available and the drivers seat could use a bit more thigh and side support