SUBARU IMPREZA 2012 – 2018

2012 Subaru Impreza

2012 Subaru Impreza

Subaru Impreza is a stalwart of the Japanese marque’s range having been on sale here since 1993. Amongst other things it signalled that all Subarus from then onwards would be driven by all four wheels. This unique selling feature added to the brand’s reputation for safety.

(Yes, we know the Subaru BRZ / Toyota 86 are rear-drive sportscars, but we reckon it’s highly likely that the other Subies will continue the AWD tradition just about forever.)

The added traction provided by all-wheel-drive (AWD) makes Imprezas big sellers in Tasmania and the Snowy Mountains. Not that you need to live in slippery areas to appreciate AWD, it’s just as useful in tropical rain in far north Queensland as near the summit of Mount Kosciuszko.

Until the fourth generation of February 2012 the Impreza’s styling was on the bland size, seemingly shaped by engineers rather than full-on stylists. But the that hadn’t hurt sales race as the no-nonsense Subarus appealed to no-nonsense Aussies. Anyhow, from 2012 onward – the models being reviewed in this week’s Used Car review – the Impreza does have more eye appeal.

2015 Subaru Impreza

2015 Subaru Impreza

Gen-four is the one to go for if you’re looking for a family car, because its longer wheelbase provides extra rear legroom compared to the models it superseded.

Subaru Impreza is a midsize car and can generally carry four adults comfortably, though there may be times when you need to compromise on legroom if all four are tall. There is space for a fifth adult at a squeeze, though as is pretty normal in this class four plus a child is better.

The new fifth generation Impreza of arrived in December 2016. It’s a good looking car, being stylish without going over the top. The interior is more adventurous than the exterior, with interesting shapes that and quality soft-feel materials that give it an almost Euro feel.

Like its predecessors, the MY17 Impreza comes as a five-door hatchback that’s almost station wagon in its shape and carrying ability. However, some felt the rear should have been more squared-off wagon, rather than a hatch. The Subaru platform of the impreza later underpinned the upcoming XV crossover wagon. There’s also a four-door Impreza sedan, this time with a semi-sporty look to its tail.


Though the new Impreza is the same length as the superseded model it’s slightly wider and sits on a longer wheelbase. It has extra space in the rear seats and can hold four adults in comfort thanks to extra legroom, headroom and width. Four and a child in the centre will work well.

The 2.0-litre Boxer was significantly improved with the gen-four of 2012, providing an even wider spread of torque and having lower fuel consumption and emissions. Power for the gen-five comes from a heavily revised version of the familiar Subaru 2.0-litre flat-four ‘boxer’ unit. While peak torque is at relatively high revs there’s good pulling power from about 2000 rpm.

The CVT has six pre-set ratios that can be used manually via steering wheel paddles to give a sporting driver added control.

The company’s EyeSight safety system visually monitors what’s happening in front of the car by way of stereo cameras and does its best to keep the driver out of trouble.

Sedans and hatches are on offer, both work well with a strong leaning towards the five-door variants in sales Australia.

Impreza owners often preferred manual gearboxes, six-speed units were introduced in the 2012 model. However, as years pass by automatics are replacing manuals in just about every car on Australian roads. A CVT (Continuously Variable Transmission) was introduced in the 2012 model. It has manual overrides if you think you know better than the transmission’s computer.

Subaru’s popularity in country regions means that there are quite a few dealers outside the major metropolitan areas.

Spare parts prices are about average for a Japanese car in this class and we’ve heard of no real hassles with getting parts. Some less common spares may have to be shipped down from Japan, but that’s seldom take more than a few business days.

Insurance premiums are usually moderate. As always, it’s worth shopping around. Be sure you’re making an exact comparison company to company.

Look for previous crash repairs: the simplest signs are uneven paint matching, paint overspray on glass and other non-painted surfaces, and slight ripples in the panels.

Make sure the cabin doesn’t have any scratches or tears in the trim and carpets. Especially in the back where the kids may have been bored and unkind.

Similarly, check the condition of the boot for signs of damage caused by things sliding about.

Be sure the engine starts easily and idles reasonably smoothly even when cold.

Look for exhaust smoke when accelerating hard after the engine has been idling for a while.

Make sure the manual gearbox changes gears smoothly and quietly and that there’s no clutch slip. The latter showing up when you accelerate hard, particularly in low gears.

If you’ve never driven at car with a CVT it may feel odd at first, if you do suspect problems have an expert check it out. If creates any unusual noises or change ratios erratically it have it checked out by a Subaru specialist.

Expect to spend from $6000 to $9500 for a 2012 Subaru Impreza R; $8000 to $13,000 for a 2013 2.0i-S; $10,000 to $15,000 for a 2014 2.0i-L or a 2016 2.0i Premium; $12,000 to $18,000 for a 2015 2.0i Luxury; $14,000 to $21,000 for a 2016 2.0i-L; $16,000 to $23,000 for a 2017 2.0i Premium; and $18,000 to $25,000 for a 2017 2.0i-S.

Family cars tend to be either treated with respect by all concerned … or bought by uncaring lunatics. No prizes for guessing which one is better.

RECALLS: To browse recalls on all vehicles go to the ACCC at:

About Ewan Kennedy

Ewan Kennedy, a long-time car enthusiast, was Technical Research Librarian with the NRMA from 1970 until 1985. He worked part-time as a freelance motoring journalist from 1977 until 1985, when he took a full-time position as Technical Editor with Modern Motor magazine. Late in 1987 he left to set up a full-time business as a freelance motoring journalist. Ewan is an associate member of the Society of Automotive Engineers - International. An economy driving expert, he set the Guinness World Record for the greatest distance travelled in a standard road vehicle on a single fuel fill. He lists his hobbies as stage acting, travelling, boating and reading.
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