From £25,0106
It's safety first for Subaru's reimagined Impreza hatchback, but a thirsty engine and CVT gearbox don't make for a rewarding drive

Our Verdict

Subaru Impreza

It may not be an obvious choice for most buyers, but this four-wheel-drive, sub-£20k hatch does have merit

  • First Drive

    Subaru Impreza 2.0i SE Lineartronic 2018 UK review

    It's safety first for Subaru's reimagined Impreza hatchback, but a thirsty engine and CVT gearbox don't make for a rewarding drive
  • First Drive

    Subaru Impreza 2018 review

    The fifth-generation Subaru Impreza is much improved from top to bottom, but a poor engine and gearbox keep it trailing in this competitive class

What is it?

The understated family hatch you see before you is the fifth-generation Subaru Impreza. Twenty years ago, that nameplate might’ve been one to make you sit up and pay attention - particularly if you were an ardent follower of the World Rally Championship at the time.

Now, though, the Impreza isn’t quite as exciting. There are two reasons for this: namely, because the coveted WRX performance models have been established as a model line in their own right (not to mention one that’s about to leave the UK for good, supposedly), and also because Subaru has been placing safety at the forefront of its vehicle development programme for some time now.

Not that that’s at all a bad thing. After all, this new Impreza comes with a full five-star Euro NCAP rating, thanks in no small part to its ‘Eyesight’ suite of driver aides. This includes features such as pre-collision braking, adaptive cruise control and lane-keep assist.

In addition to the comprehensive range of safety kit, the Impreza also gets Subaru’s symmetrical four-wheel drive to help the car’s on-road surefootedness, while the all-new Subaru Global Platform aims to improve dynamic feel. Suspension, meanwhile, consists of MacPherson struts up front and a double wishbone arrangement at the rear.

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At the car’s nose, you’ll find Subaru’s naturally aspirated four-cylinder boxer engine in 2.0-litre guise (a smaller 1.6-litre unit is also available). Its 154bhp and 145lb ft of torque are sent to all four wheels via a ‘Lineartronic’ continuously variable transmission (CVT).

What's it like?

Sit yourself down in the soft and pleasantly supportive fabric-upholstered seats and you’ll be greeted by a cabin that’s relatively simple in its design.

There’s plenty of plastic to be seen here, but despite the relatively no-frills approach Subaru has taken towards the Impreza’s interior, it’s by no means an unpleasant environment. There’s plenty of space on offer, and you get the impression the materials used here will stand up to a fair amount of rough and tumble. So far, so good.

Well, good up until the point you hit the starter button and set off. From this point, things become slightly questionable. This is largely down to the Impreza’s combination of engine and gearbox.

That 2.0-litre flat four produces only a modest amount of torque, and due to the lack of a turbocharger, its 145lb ft of twisting power isn’t available until 4000rpm. This means that any attempt to accelerate with any sense of urgency is met by a harsh, strained and sustained drone as the CVT spins up above this point so progress can be made. You’ll have to endure that accompanying racket for some time, too, because the Impreza takes 9.8sec to accelerate from 0-62mph.

The requirement to really rev this engine out in order to shift the Impreza’s 1379kg mass also contributes to fuel economy that’s not particularly stellar. Subaru quotes a combined consumption figure of 42.8mpg, but we saw a figure closer to 35mpg during our time with the car.

So, Subaru’s selection of engine and transmission may not be a particularly strong one, but at least the inclusion of symmetrical all-wheel drive means the Impreza feels planted and secure on the road. There’s a commendable amount of grip on offer here, and body roll is generally well contained. As far as ride quality is concerned, the Impreza can feel firm at times, but it’s far from what you’d call uncomfortable.

Should I buy one?

For all of its pros - think solid build quality, decent interior space, surefooted on-road demeanour and impressive safety rating – the Impreza is let down by nearly as many cons.

There’s the 2.0-litre engine, which not only lacks punch but is also thirsty and not particularly refined. At £25,560, the Impreza is expensive, too. Sure, you get heated seats, dual-zone automatic air conditioning, DAB radio and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity, but for similar money you could have a Volkswagen Golf GT with comparable - if not superior - levels of equipment. At that price point, you’d also get the VW Group’s 1.5-litre, 128bhp Evo petrol engine with seven-speed DSG transmission. Not only is this powerplant smoother, more refined and - thanks to the presence of a turbocharger - more accessible, but it’s also much more economical. We recently tested a Golf estate with this very engine and saw close to 50mpg.

Then there’s the problem posed by depreciation. After 36 months of ownership and 36,000 miles, the Subaru is forecast to retain just 36% of its value. That’s a serious hit. By comparison, the Golf is expected to be worth 40% of its original £25,010 asking price over the same timeframe.

To be totally honest, then, you’d either really have to buy into Subaru’s safety and security spiel, or be a long-time patron of the brand to seriously consider the new Impreza. Without a more favourable engine and gearbox offering, we predict the Impreza will remain a fairly rare sight on British roads.

Subaru Impreza 2.0i SE Lineartronic

Where Surrey, UK; Price £25,010; On sale Now; Engine 4cyl, 1995cc, petrol; Power 154bhp at 6000rpm; Torque 143lb ft at 4000rpm; Gearbox CVT automatic; Kerb weight 1379kg; Top speed 127mph; 0-62mph 9.8sec; Fuel economy 42.8mpg (combined); CO2, tax band 152g/km, 51%; Rivals Volkswagen Golf, Skoda Octavia

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Comments
19

3 May 2018

Surprised at those figures, every time I look at Subarus on AutoTrader they seem to hold their value very well. As for the car itself, it desperately needs to the 1.6 turbo from the Levorg and the proportions in that rear 3/4 view do look a little odd. But it still has appeal as Subarus tend to, something a bit different from the norm.

3 May 2018

But other than that I can make no case for this car.

typos1 - Just can’t respect opinion

3 May 2018

Subaru make well engineered cars that are satisfying ownership propositions. But their driveline choices and UK marketing are bizarre and frustrating. Why no manual gearbox or turbo charged engine? Why no WRX? All very weird.

3 May 2018
scrap wrote:

Subaru make well engineered cars that are satisfying ownership propositions. But their driveline choices and UK marketing are bizarre and frustrating. Why no manual gearbox or turbo charged engine? Why no WRX? All very weird.

Autocar should find out if the poor choice of cars we get in the UK is down to Subaru or their UK importers. It just doesnt make sense not to offer cars like most sold in the UK, with a Turbo and a manual box, at least as an option, unless you just dont want to sell many cars

3 May 2018

Thiurstty and no torqyue?

They could kill those two birds with one stone - if they still had made diesels...

(But you wouuld stil have a droning CVT - yuk!)

3 May 2018
Jeremy wrote:

Thiurstty and no torqyue?

They could kill those two birds with one stone - if they still had made diesels...

(But you wouuld stil have a droning CVT - yuk!)

yep..diesels are part of the solution...not the problem

#Dieselsforlife

3 May 2018
Jeremy wrote:

Thiurstty and no torqyue?

They could kill those two birds with one stone - if they still had made diesels...

(But you wouuld stil have a droning CVT - yuk!)

yep..diesels are part of the solution...not the problem

#Dieselsforlife

3 May 2018

I could put up with the droning if CVTs worked, but, sadly they dont.

XXXX just went POP.

3 May 2018
typos1 wrote:

I could put up with the droning if CVTs worked, but, sadly they dont.

Why don't CVTs work? I've driven a few and always found them to be smooth and relaxing, especially in traffic, and the hondas I drove with them had manual modes with paddles which removed the drone during hard acceleration, slip roads onto motorways etc, because the revs drop with each pull of the paddle, just like a gear change. The latest civics cvt actually behaves like a normal auto and appears to change gears, so the revs rise and fall as they would in a torque converter auto. They also appear more reliable and less complicated than dual clutch systems and suit small cars well. In my opinion.

3 May 2018

How old are those heated seat buttons?? They were used on late 90’s Toyotas. That’s some serious penny pinching...

"Why is http://www.nanoflowcell.com not getting more media attention? It could be the future... Now!"

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