THERE comes a point when you have to grow up.
Always known for its maturity with an edge of daredevil courtesy of the WRX, there is an air of new confidence surrounding Subaru.
This new Impreza is the start of a new foundation for the marque. Coming soon is an impressive new XV, followed by the WRX, Forester and Outback before plug-in hybrids and full electric offerings take hold.
What's most important about the Impreza is what you can't see - the Subaru Global Platform architecture on which it sits raises the refinement to almost European levels.
Hatch versions will be more popular despite the sedan being $200 cheaper.
Four levels of specification start from $22,400, although stretch to $28,990 plus on-roads and you can get into the range-topping 2.0i-S model that comes with some pretty good kit.
There's little doubt why the cabin has just been named among the best interiors in North America. Clean and intuitive with responsive buttons (far improved from the Subaru touch-screens which frustrated us in recent years), it's a well designed layout.
The driver has a colour LCD screen possessing a raft of configurable information, while there is also a main eight-inch touch-screen and a smaller display embedded higher in the dash. Throw into the mix Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity, 18-inch alloys, dual zone climate control, EyeSight driver assist systems that incorporate radar cruise control, blind spot monitor, lane change assist, rear cross traffic alert, along with an electric sunroof, satnav, heated front seats, leather trim, power driver's seat and steering responsive LED headlights.
Those chasing an even more aggressive look can opt for a $1950 sports pack which delivers features akin to a body kit, such as side mouldings, splash guards, rear bumper panel and mesh-style grill.
Capped price servicing is available with intervals extended from six months to 12 (or 12,500km). The total cost for three years is $1298.19.
On the road
From first tug of the steering wheel the Impreza feels confident.
Sitting flat in corners and gripping nicely, its prowess exposes the 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine. While fine around town and through gentle acceleration, if you push hard the four-potter partnered to a continuously variable transmission struggles in the performance stakes.
We suspect that won't bother most buyers who will rarely be pushing the performance envelope, but those chasing perky prowess will find the Impreza wanting. Once under way you can carry speed into bends without scrubbing wide, as the all-wheel drive struts its stuff and the steering is extremely well weighted.
One drawback for the sedan is its failure to tow. The body design doesn't allow for a towbar...so the hatch is your only option for those keen to hook up.
Armed with the full suite of EyeSight kit, it's outstanding technology. In fact, companies who have a fleet of Subarus with the active and passive safety equipment have found accidents and incidents have been severely reduced.
It's like having a second pair of eyes, boasting features which are seen on high-end premium cars. While it doesn't have active steering that can take control to stop you veering out of your lane, there are alerts and there is also a function which bolsters brakes and steering if a frontal impact is detected.
Generous cabin proportions, intuitive interior features and sharp external lines make the top-shelf Impreza a much-improved contender. It's easy to see how it was benchmarked against luxury Europeans.
Get past the lack of towing ability and the absence of a full-size spare (comes with a space saver), and the Subaru sedan is elevated among the top in class.
Subaru Impreza 2.0i-S Sedan.
Price: $28,990 plus on-roads.
Engine: 2.0-litre four-cylinder boxer 115kW/196Nm.
Transmission: Continuously variable auto with seven-speed manual mode.
Thirst: 7.2-litres/100km (combined average).
Spare: Space saver.
Safety: Five star, seven airbags.
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