Subaru Impreza: smart pricing, smart engineering
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The new budget-friendly Impreza 2.0 Sport is underpinned with Subaru AWD engineering
Another Impreza? Hold your horses. The manufacturer says a whopping 95 per cent of the new Impreza 2.0 Sport has been changed or updated, so while it might exhibit familiar lines, this is pretty much a new car.
The other big news is that, for a $29,990 entry-level car, the Impreza 2.0 Sport really does pursue a complete-ist level of comfort and convenience specification.
The Subaru range has diversified, with XV and Levorg also offering cargo-shifting capabilities, wrapped in attractive, angular bodyshells and boasting Subaru's all-wheel-drive underpinnings.
They're all keenly specified too, although the Impreza 2.0 Sport goes against the idea that you have to head to the top of the range to get all the goodies.
While the local distributor has pushed the idea of Subaru as a premium brand in recent years (something reflected perhaps in the asking price of some of its top-shelf models), the $30k Impreza 2.0 Sport hatchback bucks that trend, yet still delivers the goods.
You'll be interested to know that the car on these pages is now the only Impreza available in New Zealand. Wait, what? You saw a brand new WRX just yesterday.
Yes, but in a bit of nameplate reshuffling, the WRX and WRX STI are no longer prefixed with Impreza. The WRX being its own thing, that leaves the Impreza 2.0 Sport as the sole flyer of this particular flag.
The hatchback sits on the SGP (Subaru Global Platform) that will underpin all new Subaru models over the next decade, so think of this as the starting point of a new era for the brand as well.
With a lot riding on its sharply sculptured shoulders, Subaru has packed as much into the Impreza 2.0 Sport as it can for the price. Without veering off into brochure country, your $30k will net you a car packed with techy stuff such as an 8" touchscreen audio system featuring Apple CarPlay and Android Auto mobile phone mirroring capabilities, a reversing camera, Subaru's EyeSight system, which uses a forward-facing camera that monitors the road ahead and alerts the driver to any incidences, as well as keyless entry and start.
The interior is spacious and unfussy. Despite the 2.0 Sport being a new take on the Impreza, it feels instantly like an Impreza inside. Subaru has managed to develop one of the best driver positions around in terms of steering wheel-to-seat-to pedal ergonomics.
There's something about the Impreza that feels comfy before you've even driven it a couple of kilometres.
There's also something to be said for the way the Impreza 2.0 Sport hugs the road. Thanks to Subaru's low-slung Boxer engine and all the benefits to the car's centre of gravity and weight distribution this and its all-wheel-drive set-up bring, even this entry-level hatch feels light on its toes and endlessly chuckable.
The Boxer engine's pistons are arranged horizontally, rather than upright in a V-shape like a conventional engine. This means the engine lies flatter and lower in the engine bay, giving the car a lower centre of gravity. The pistons "punch" out like fists, hence the name.
The car features Subaru's take on the Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT), but don't curl your lip; this remains one of the better applications of that automatic gearbox system and you can always use the paddle shifters to manually swap (virtual) cogs if you want to.
None of this will matter for the car's core audience, most of whom will be looking for a relatively spacious way of getting to and from work and out to the beach on the weekends, perhaps with a stand-up paddle board tied to the roof.
That's fine of course, but Subaru has pulled off a neat trick here of disguising a driver's car as a suburban hatchback.
If you look at the entire range, the new Impreza 2.0 Sport is perhaps the most modest, most indistinguishable model on offer. It's nicely designed but doesn't feature some of the more extreme "I'm a Subaru!" design cues of, say, the XV or WRX.
Underneath though it remains a Subaru through and through. And for many buyers in the sub-$30,000 bracket, that'll prove a compelling argument on its own.
Subaru Impreza 2.0 Sport
Engine: 2.0-litre, four-cylinder Boxer (115kW/196Nm)
Pro: Brilliant packaging for the price, topped with all-wheel drive ability
Con: Plenty of choice in this segment