Subaru Impreza

A reliable family hatchback

6.3
wowscore
This is the average score given by leading car publications from 9 reviews
  • Reasonable ride
  • Excellent grip and traction
  • Rally image
  • Forgettable styling
  • Interior looks old
  • Poor fuel economy
 

£17,495 - £18,995 Price range

 

5 Seats

 

44 - 46 MPG

Review

The words “Subaru Impreza” alone should be enough for people to conjure up images of barely-controlled rally cars diving through forests at unimaginable speeds.

The latest version, now a hatchback rather than a saloon, promises a lot of kit at a reasonable price, but unfortunately doesn’t match the high standards of most rivals.

The styling is hardly what you’d call inspiring, the interior looks bland, and the running costs are too high compared to rivals.

As is the case with most of Subaru’s products, the interior is rather dreary. The basic design would have looked dated on a car of this class ten years ago, while some of the interior plastics feel cheap.

It isn’t all bad though, as you’ll be hard pushed to hear any rattles inside, and although they have limited support, the seats are quite comfortable. Space is okay for the segment, as is the 380-litre boot.

The Impreza does claim one attribute that is unique to the class – its all-wheel drive system. In poor weather, having power split among all four wheels will aid traction and offer that little extra confidence for the driver, grip levels are very impressive, too. Although a little fidgety in town, it settles down nicely at speed.

From an enjoyment point of view, though, there is little to commend. The car feels sloppy next to more accomplished rivals, and one tester describes how the Impreza “pitches and wallows in bends”. There is little feel to the steering either, and the road noise that enters the cabin is a little too much for several critics’ liking.

There is just the one engine available here – a 1.6-litre petrol, with four cylinders arranged in Subarus favoured ‘boxer’ formation. Producing 114hp, the motor has a distinctive rumble reminiscent of Subaru’s old rally cars. Fortunately, once on the move, it does settle down nicely, and the manual gearbox is pleasant enough to use. 

Performance can, at best, be described as leisurely when compared to its rivals. A 0-62mph time of 12.3 seconds isn’t terrible, but lags behind most of its contemporaries. The peak torque of 111lb-ft is produced at a fairly high 4,000rpm, so overtaking slower traffic can feel like hard work.

A CVT automatic gearbox is available too, which is claimed to be more economical than the manual, without particularly harming performance. Given that it costs £1,500  – and isn’t very good – is only worth considering if an auto is absolutely necessary.

We aggregate the most helpful Subaru Impreza 1.5 reviews from the best publications.

The cheapest of the two engines available is the 1.5 petrol which has 106bhp and 105lb ft of torque. It’s also the slowest in the range with a 0-60mph time of 14 seconds and a top speed of 109mph. Compared to most entry level rivals, reviewers found this engine was too slow, very noisy and uneconomical. It returns up to 37.2mpg and emits 176g/km of CO2 which is a lot of CO2 for a car of this type. Experts came to the conclusion that you’re much better off with the bigger 2.0 unit or if you’re a hardcore driving enthusiast then check out the WRX STi.

It’s worth noting that a new version of the Impreza arrives in April 2012 which means you might be able to get discounts from dealers. You might want to stick around to see if the new Impreza gets a vast amount of improvements, however.

We aggregate the most helpful Subaru Impreza 2.0 reviews from the best publications.

The more expensive of the two engines available is the 2.0 petrol which produces 14bhp and 145lb ft of torque. It’s much faster than the 1.5 petrol with a 0-60mph time of 9.6 seconds and a top speed of 122mph. Of the two engines, experts say this is the best one but compared to rivals it drinks more petrol and produces more CO2. It returns 32.8mpg and produces 199g/km of CO2.

It costs around £2000 more than the 1.5 petrol which puts it in the same price brackets as higher quality rivals like the Ford Focus, Volkswagen Golf and Vauxhall Astra.

It’s worth noting that a new version of the Impreza arrives in April 2012 which means you might be able to get discounts from dealers. You might want to stick around to see if the new Impreza gets a vast amount of improvements, however.

The Impreza hasn’t been tested by Euro NCAP, but we hope it can better the previous model’s mediocre four-star rating. 

Passengers are well catered for in terms of the airbag count (seven), while the usual stability and anti-lock braking systems are present, much as they are in all other cars in the class.

Aside from the four-wheel-drive system, there isn’t much to recommend the Impreza from a value point of view. An asking price north of £17,000 is similar to a mid-range Ford Focus, which comes with an engine that is both more powerful and cheaper to tax.

Features like heated front seats and part leather interior may give off the impression that the Subaru is better equipped than the Ford, until you realise that satellite navigation isn’t even available as an option, and neither are Xenon headlights or a DAB digital radio.

The four-wheel-drive system may be useful in winter, but the the rest of the time it harms the fuel economy. Despite featuring stop-start, a claimed figure of 44.1mpg is poor. Business users will find the company car tax prices steep when compared to others in the class. It isn’t a particularly sought after car either, do depreciation is poor.

Conclusion

While the Impreza isn’t a bad car, there isn’t any area where it stands above its competitors, and indeed in almost all cases it falls short.

Subarus have generally had a strong reputation for reliability – and their dealers score highly for providing good customer service – but that isn’t enough of a reason to justify this car over the wealth of options available to buyers in this fiercely competitive class.

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