Subaru Reboots The Impreza

Edward Niedermeyer
by Edward Niedermeyer
subaru reboots the impreza

Especially since the Legacy/Outback started ballooning and the Forester got a dealer-demanded homogenization, the Impreza has been my personal favorite Subaru (my significant other owns an ’08 wagon). It may not win any fuel economy contests in its size class, but the weight of its AWD system and grunty 2.5 liter engine make it a solid baby grand tourer compared to its front-drive competitors. But with gas prices now climbing steadily towards “freak-out” levels and competitors lounging on the 40MPG beach, a consistent 26 MPG no longer cuts the mustard. And so the new Impreza will lose its 2.5 liter engine in favor of a 2.0 unit which, along with some weight loss and a CVT will power the new Impreza to a 27/36 MPG EPA rating (25/33 with the manual transmission). Far be it from us to complain about less weight and more fuel economy, but it feels like the Impreza may be giving up some of its niche appeal in search of mainstream acceptance… not that there’s anything wrong with that.

Impreza Product Planner Kenneth Lim tells Autoblog

From the last-gen revamp in 2007, we considered things that kept people from buying the car – that was mostly size and price. We got the basics down with that one, now we added fuel economy and space with this one.

As a result, the Impreza remains the same size, but adds an inch to its wheelbase, freeing up more rear seat space. More importantly, it’s lost 110 lbs, coming in at 2,911 lbs (with manual) compared to 2,700 for a front-drive Corolla. Part of the weight-savings: a 2.3 gallon smaller gas tank, but the Impreza can still manage a 520 mile range.

That new 2.0 engine is DOHC, and puts out 148 HP at 6,200 RPM and 145 lb-ft of torque at 4,200 RPM. For comparison, the outgoing engine made 170 HP at 6,000 rpm and 170 lb-ft at 4,400 RPM. But, according to Autoblog

with the CVT and lighter weight it still gets to 60 miles per hour in 9.8 seconds – a 0.3-second improvement. Not only that, but every passing metric, 50 mph to 70 mph, for instance, is improved.

Speaking of the CVT, it comes with a different AWD system than the manual-equipped model, offering “Active Torque Split AWD with an electronically controlled, continuously variable hydraulic transfer clutch” while the manual model makes do with “a viscous-coupling locking center differential with a 50/50 front/rear split.”

The new Impreza’s styling is the result of an effort to create a stronger family resemblance between Subaru’s models, a goal the brand has long struggled with. As a result, it looks very baby-Legacy-like in sedan form. But like almost everything else in the Impreza’s development, one factor took precedence. Says Lim

The profile of the front, the sharpness everywhere, all this was about fuel economy, with considerations of aesthetics afterward.

Manfully admitted. Meanwhile the interior looks vastly improved from the current model, although we’ll have to see how it feels and sounds at speed before we pass judgment. After all, extreme weight savings often have a nasty way of affecting the interior ambience. Compare, for example, the current Impreza with a main competitor, the Suzuki SX4, and the heavier, torquier Impreza offers the far more market-friendly freeway experience for entry-level AWD shoppers. Will that advantage survive the Impreza’s new diet, downsized engine and economy-oriented variable transmission? Only a road test will tell…

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  • GarbageMotorsCo. GarbageMotorsCo. on Apr 21, 2011

    So where is the exhaust outlet on that hatch? Electric model? Hmmmmmmmmmm

  • Kita Ikki Kita Ikki on Apr 21, 2011

    Thin A-pillar. Low cowl. Low belt line. Lightweight. Subaru is doing all the right things.

    • Ubermensch Ubermensch on Apr 23, 2011

      Ditto. The low cowl in particular is nice to see again. The advantage of the boxer engine is you can have a lower hood. The latest Legacy/Outback have gigantic bulbous hoods and a high cowl which makes no sense to me.

  • NotMyCircusNotMyMonkeys for that money, it had better be built by people listening to ABBA
  • Abrar Very easy and understanding explanation about brake paint
  • MaintenanceCosts We need cheaper batteries. This is a difficult proposition at $50k base/$60k as tested but would be pretty compelling at $40k base/$50k as tested.
  • Scott ?Wonder what Toyota will be using when they enter the market?
  • Fred The bigger issue is what happens to the other systems as demand dwindles? Will thet convert or will they just just shut down?