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New York show: Subaru Impreza grows up

Imprezive: Subaru’s new Impreza becomes the first model to benefit from Subaru’s new global vehicle architecture.

Bigger, sturdier and nippier Impreza to reignite Subaru’s small-car fortunes


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24 Mar 2016

SUBARU is promising significant gains in safety, ride comfort and agility from its new fifth-generation Impreza small car that was officially launched in both sedan and five-door hatch variants at the New York motor show overnight.

Many of the improvements are attributed to the new Subaru Global Platform that will underpin most models in the Subaru range – including planned hybrids – in future under the Japanese company’s Prominence 2020 plan.

Due in Australia late this year or early in 2017, the latest Impreza is 40mm longer than its predecessor in both hatch and sedan forms – sedan 4625mm, hatch 4460mm – and sits on a wheelbase that has been stretched 25mm, to 2670mm, thus affording greater cabin and cargo space.

Aesthetics and aerodynamics are both said to have been improved by lowering the roof height by 10mm.

The 2.0-litre direct-injection boxer four-cylinder engine is 80 per cent new, delivering performance and fuel efficiency gains, although peak power is up just 2kW, to 112kW.

As before, the engine will put its torque to the tarmac via Subaru’s trademark permanent all-wheel-drive system fitted standard across the range.

A revised continuously variable transmission (CVT) – now with a seven-step manual mode – is standard equipment. No manual transmission is mentioned.

Like the American version shown in the Big Apple, the Japanese-built Impreza bound for Australia is set to get Subaru’s EyeSight suite of safety technologies, including autonomous braking and adaptive cruise control, albeit only on upper-spec variants.

The design of the new Impreza is typically Subaru, with familiar hexagonal grille and hawk-eye headlights, and remains largely faithful to the concept shown at last year’s Los Angeles motor show.

The big news is under the car where the new platform said to deliver a 70 per cent improvement in torsional rigidity that is claimed to provide a level of quietness “beyond vehicle class” while at the same time delivering a 40 per cent improvement in crash energy absorption.

New suspension mounts are claimed to improve shock absorption, while a body-mounted rear stabiliser bar cuts bodyroll by 50 per cent.

A lower centre of gravity aids cornering performance, along with straight-line stability. Alloy wheels range from 16 inches to 18 inches, depending on the variant.

Sports models are set to get active torque vectoring for superior handling in the twists and turns.

Apart from adaptive cruise control, blind spot warning and lane keep assist, the latest version of Subaru’s EyeSight system has high-beam assist that automatically dips the headlights as traffic approaches.

Another feature new to Impreza is automatic reverse braking, which is designed to prevent drivers backing into objects.

Inside, the Impreza gets a more upmarket look and feel, with more comfortable seats, stitching on the dash material and an 8.0-inch touchscreen, now with the latest Apple and Android connectivity.

Although no cabin dimension figures are supplied, roominess is said to have been improved, along with cargo space.

Four specification levels will be offered on the US version, but range details and pricing are yet to be confirmed for Australia where the current Impreza – launched in 2012 – is the fourth best-selling car in the Subaru range after the Forester, Outback and XV.

Subaru Australia has confirmed the new model for this market, saying the sedan and hatch will both come here by January next year, perhaps a little earlier.

The company is hoping the new model will lift Impreza sales beyond the current 400 a month to something closer to the 1000 a month the third-generation model achieved around 2010.

Next to benefit from the new Subaru Global Platform will be the XV compact SUV that is due about the third quarter of 2017.

After that, the new-generation WRX and STI performance cars will get the fresh base, along with the next Forester.

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