Subaru has put its Impreza through little more than a ‘wash and brush-up’ for the MY20 versions of its sedans and hatchbacks. Last upgraded in 2017, Subaru says its aim was to add ‘sporty spice’ to the range. Designers have merely presented a fresh face to exterior styling.

Unfortunately, it appears the engineers missed out on the memo about the potential boost and the powertrain delivers much of the same old, same old – only 5 kW more power and no change in 196 Nm of torque.

It is left to the addition of Subaru Intelligent Drive, with its sporty S mode, and revised suspension and steering in every variant to perk up the mechanical mix

All with CVT transmission and Subaru all-wheel drive, the 2.0i sedan sets the ball rolling at a very competitive $23,740, plus on-road costs, while the range tops out at $31,360 for the 2.0i-S hatchback. The latter was the test vehicle.

Limited to a reworked grille, front bumper and front foglight design, updated LED headlight design, and smoked-finish rear combination lights, the previous Impreza hatch profile is carried over.

Cabin soft furnishings, for that’s what they are, including soft-touch dashboard surrounds, memory driver’s seat, piano black air-conditioning control surrounds and updated interior door trim surround material, speak quality.

There’s more shoulder width and rear seat leg room than in the previous-generation model.

The Impreza 2.0i-S cabin contains more screens than a suburban multiplex.

The premium multi-function display is straight off the computer game shelf, displaying screens to monitor the fuel efficiency of the driver’s style. At journey’s end, there’s an on-screen evaluation of their day’s driving, comparing it with a previous drive.

The MFD is linked to the Auto Start-Stop to show engine stop time and the amount of
fuel conserved while stopped. The premium MFD also shows reverse camera images.

The 2-litre four-cylinder boxer (horizontally opposed) petrol engine puts out 115 kW of power and 196 Nm of torque. It’s mated with a continuously variable automatic transmission and has Subaru’s all-wheel drive system.

With seven airbags and Subaru’s EyeSight system, Impreza maintains its five-star rating for occupant safety from the Australasian New Car Assessment Program.

The EyeSight system consists of a set of dual colour cameras situated near the rear-view mirror, which scan the road for unanticipated dangers. It works in conjunction with adaptive cruise control, pre-collision braking and throttle management, as well as lane keep assist and sway warning.

On a cold start-up, the Impreza engine went off like a wailing banshee, but settled to the unique boxer drone when warmed up and on the go. However, the CVT transmission tended to hold back performance.

As usual, Subaru’s all-wheel drive system added a feeling of confidence in even the most troublesome road-surface conditions.

The stop / start engine idle system is claimed to help keep the combined urban / highway fuel consumption to an impressive 6.6 litres per 100 kilometres. The test car contributed 9.2 litres per 100 kilometres in the city and 5.7 on motorway runs.

With Subaru’s SI-Drive taken up across the range, at the price of fuel efficiency, the Impreza can be unleashed somewhat in S (for Sport) mode, which increases engine speed, hence greater responsiveness.

Intelligent (I mode) moderates power output in response to accelerator operation, creating smooth, environmentally-friendly performance.

While CVT Imprezas feature steering wheel paddle shifters, the 2.0i-S also boasting alloy pedals, these sporting accoutrements are no substitute for vehicle performance.

Storage areas include a glovebox that can take the equivalent of 16 compact discs – Yes, the Impreza has a CD player – while the sliding console box between the front seats in the 2.0i-S has capacity for 13 CDs, USB and AUX terminals, and 12 Volt power.

In front of the console is a dual cup holder, while front doors also have space for a bottle. In the back, the centre armrest has dual cup holders. The golfer is under no handicap with the 340 litre hatch cargo area capable of carrying up to three golf bags.

Putting the sluggish move off the mark in so-called ‘Intelligent’ mode to the side, the generously equipped, quality finished, well-priced Impreza 2.0i-S hatch occupies a premium position in its market segment.


Subaru Impreza 4D Sedan
2.0i (a) $23,740
2.0i-L (a) $25,860
2.0i Premium (a) $28,390
2.0i-S (a) $31,160

Subaru Impreza 5D Hatch
2.0i (a) $23,940
2.0i-L (a) $26,060
2.0i Premium (a) $28,590
2.0i-S (a) $31,360
Note: These prices do not include government or dealer delivery charges. Contact your local Subaru dealer for drive-away prices.

SPECIFICATIONS (Subaru Impreza 2.0i-S 2-litre, 4 cyl Boxer petrol, CVT automatic, 5dr hatchback)

Capacity: 1.994 litres
Configuration: Four cylinders horizontally opposed
Maximum Power: 115 kW @ 6000 rpm
Maximum Torque: 196 Nm @ 4000 rpm
Fuel Type: Petrol 91 RON
Combined Fuel Cycle (ADR 81/02): 6.6 L/100km

DRIVELINE: Continuously variable automatic transmission, all-wheel drive

Length: 4475 mm
Wheelbase: 2670 mm
Width: 1775 mm
Height: 1480 mm
Turning Circle: 10.6 metres
Kerb Mass: 1383 kg
Fuel Tank Capacity: 50 litres

Front: Ventilated disc
Rear: Ventilated disc

Five years / unlimited kilometres

About Derek Ogden

On graduating with an honours degree in applied science in London, Derek Ogden worked for the BBC in local radio and several British newspapers as a production journalist and writer. Derek moved to Australia in 1975 and worked as a sub-editor with The Courier Mail and Sunday Mail in Brisbane, moving to the Gold Coast Bulletin in 1980 where he continued as a production journalist. He was the paper's motoring editor for more than 20 years, taking the weekly section from a few pages at the back of the book to a full-colour liftout of up to 36 pages. He left the publication in 2009.
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