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SUBARU QUIETLY RETURNS ITS IMPREZA BADGE TO KIWI MAINSTREAM
One of the fashion trends of the moment is “normcore”. A contraction of “normal” and “hardcore”, it connotes a conscious choice to avoid fashion excess while embracing quality, with neutral tones and absolutely minimal accessorising. Lurid logos are not allowed but premium labels in discreet places are okay.
The entry-level Subaru Impreza is normcore, don’t you think? It looks a bit plain but that Subaru label on the front ensures a certain engineering quality that sets it apart from the mainstream: a boxer engine and all-wheel drive are givens, for example.
The Impreza’s core status is reinforced when you consider that it provides the base for many more glamorous Subaru models, including the XV and WRX/STI: one’s an Impreza on stilts and the other two add turbocharging technology in varying states of aggression. Even the Forester SUV owes a lot to the Impreza platform.
The Impreza fell out of fashion a couple of years ago, largely because of the popularity of the other models just mentioned. Back in 2013, Subaru NZ quietly trimmed the Impreza range down to one and decided to sell it on a limited production basis — the only way it could guarantee pricing from the factory that was competitive with mainstream front-drive small cars. The $31,990 Impreza X was the result.
Now there’s a new Impreza for 2015, the S-Edition. The price has actually dropped another $2000 to $29,990, but the car has gained a new touch-screen information and entertainment system, upgraded instrument panel, different interior trims and additional USB ports.
Also standard are dual zone climate control air conditioning and reversing camera.
The S-Edition can be identified by a reshaped front bumper and new-design 16-inch alloy wheels.
As before, the Impreza is powered by a 2-litre boxer engine with 110kW/196Nm, driving all four wheels through a Subaru Lineartronic Transmission (SLT) with stop-start technology. Combined fuel consumption is 6.8 litres per 100km.
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Key changes to the Impreza have flowed through the less normcore family members. The XV also gains the new touch-screen and trim upgrades such as gloss-black air conditioning control and silver trim panel on the dashboard.
XV prices have also been reduced between $1000 and $4000. Unlike Impreza, the XV is still available with both manual and SLT, now for the same price of $37,990. Previously the manual was $37,990 and the SLT sold for $40,990.
The XV 2.0i-L is down $4000 to $40,990, while the flagship 2.0i-S has also been reduced by $4000 to $44,990. Equipment on this top model includes leather upholstery and heated front seats. Both L and S versions have satellite navigation.
Add fire to the Impreza platform and get the WRX. Stoke it and there’s the STI. The mechanical packages are unchanged for both:a 2-litre turbo engine making 197kW in the WRX and 221kW in the STI, with the choice of six-speed manual or SLT (WRX only) gearboxes.
Prices stay at $48,990 for the WRX and $53,990 for the WRX Premium (SLT $1000 extra), and $53,990/$64,990 for the standard and Premium versions of the STI.
But equipment levels have been upgraded across the range. The WRX picks up larger 18-inch alloys and power folding mirrors, while both WRX and STI now feature a satellite navigation system with real-time traffic information (similar to the system fitted to the Outback Premium).
The WRX and STI Premium models have gained a suite of active safety technologies, including blind spot detection, lane-change assistance, rear cross traffic alert (which warns of traffic approaching from the side as you reverse out of driveways or parking spaces) and a side-view camera monitor located in the passenger-side mirror that aims to eliminate the blind spot around the left-front of the vehicle.
There’s yet another Impreza-based model to come: a high-performance wagon called Levorg (that’s LEgacy ReVOlution TouRinG, people), which the company sees as a spiritual successor to the defunct Legacy GT wagon. Initially conceived as a Japanese domestic market model, the Levorg is approved for export and is already on sale in Europe.
Think of Levorg as an upsized WRX wagon. It’s longer and more spacious than the sedan, but boasts the same 221kW power output as the STI to offset the extra mass. Sound good? Here’s the bad news: it’s still another year away for New Zealand.