Impreza ahead on space race
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The new Subaru Impreza provides a dual preview of Subaru’s product plans.
The local launch comes two months before the fifth-generation Impreza hatchback goes on sale (from late February) in 2.0-litre Sport specification.
And the global platform that underpins the Impreza is also the first sample of the architecture that will deliver next generation XV, Forester and WRX models and also provides the platform for Subaru’s move into hybrids.
The Impreza is estimated as 95 per cent new although sticking to the familiar recipe of a 2.0-litre boxer engine and symmetrical all-wheel drive format with Subaru’s Lineartronic continuously variable transmission.
It has slightly larger dimensions and a significant boost in technology and finish — including a new stereo camera-based Eyesight driver-assist system. Pricing won’t be confirmed until early February. The current Impreza hatch is priced at $29,990.
The car has a sophisticated look that includes a wider body and 17-inch alloy wheels become standard in New Zealand.
Body length has increased by 45mm and the wheelbase is 25mm longer. The most significant change is a 35mm increase in width, and rear seat headroom and legroom have also increased.
The body construction achieves significant gains in chassis rigidity and the first driving impressions reveal the Impreza has a premium small car feel.
Subaru has continued the deployment of direct injection across its boxer engine. The latest 1995cc boxer has a raised 12.5:1 compression ratio and now develops 115kW at 6000rpm (up by 5kW). Peak torque is unchanged at 196Nm but arrives earlier at 4000rpm (200rpm lower).
There are refinement gains and weight-saving improvements within the Lineartronic transmission that has an auto stop-start function and an additional seventh ratio for manual shifting.
Combined cycle fuel consumption falls from 6.8 litres per 100km to 6.6L/100km.
The more sophisticated exterior is matched by a premium cabin.
A new generation 8.0-inch colour touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Google Android Auto is the focal point and metallic detailing, soft texture surfaces and carbon fibre inserts complete the look.
The New Zealand range will comprise a single 2.0 Sport specification with dual-zone air conditioning, tyre-pressure monitoring, premium cloth trim with leather trimmed steering wheel and gear shift lever, front fog lights with integrated LED daytime running lights, electric folding door mirrors and push button engine start.
Other standard highlights include seven airbags, a six-speaker audio system with Bluetooth and USB connectivity, an electronic park brake, reversing camera, height-adjustable driver’s seat, 60/40 split folding rear seat and rear privacy glass.
Introducing the third generation Eyesight system into the Impreza introduces adaptive cruise control with brake-light recognition, pre-collision braking assist and steering assist, driver fatigue and lane departure warnings.
The Impreza plays a key role as Subaru’s entry level model achieving about 300 annual sales. If Subaru of New Zealand can secure increased supply, it aims to grow Impreza sales to 500 annually by 2018.
Subaru of New Zealand is on target to set a new sales record, achieving more than 2600 sales for the first time — a 15 per cent gain for the brand in a market that looks set to finish the year about 8 per cent ahead of 2015.
Almost half of Subaru sales are the latest Outback but the brand has also achieved growth with its XV, Forester and Legacy sedan models this year.
The other new Subaru model expected to arrive in 2017 will be the new XV crossover.