Subaru Impreza 2.0i-SL Sedan 2012 new car review

On the whole, this new Impreza 2.0i-SLsedan is not a bad looking car.

Darren Cottingham
Darren Cottingham
Expert reviewer | Auto Media Group

On the whole, this new Impreza 2.0i-SLsedan is not a bad looking car, except that from some angles the chunky arches look out of proportion with the rest of the dimensions.

The good
  • Four-wheel drive flexibility
  • Comfortable
  • Rides well
The not-so-good
  • Issues with the sat nav
  • No auto lights or wipers

On the road

On this top-of-the-line SL those arches are filled with 17-inch wheels wrapped in 205/50 R17 tyres. These are driven by Subaru’s excellent Symmetrical All-wheel Drive which features active torque splitting to make sure the right amount of power is going to all wheels. In the WRX STI this is useful in any conditions, but with the Impreza SL’s non-turbo 1995cc engine only liberating 110kW and 196Nm of torque this is only going to be useful on snow and gravel.

The CVT gearing is set to give you a decent overtaking burst. It doesn’t make a rapid getaway from a standing start but picks up at around 50kph to give you the urge where it matters on the open road. This is about the speed you’ll be doing as the revs climb up towards maximum torque at 4200rpm. 

Paddle shift gears are available if you want to liven up the action yourself. Keeping the power and torque sensible leads to some fairly sensible fuel economy figures, too. The quoted combined fuel consumption is 6.8l/100km. I managed 7.1l/100km.

With the 55-litre tank you should be able to get 800-900km in open road driving between stops.

As is expected from a Subaru, the suspension setup is excellent. McPherson strut-type independent suspension at the front and double wishbone-type independent suspension at the rear struck the perfect balance between comfortable on-road cruising and being able to flick it through the tight bends. Predictable understeer was the result of too much exuberance, deftly reined in by the electronic driver aids when pushing hard.

The full list of electronic assistance includes Electronic Stability Control (ESC), Anti-lock Braking System (ABS), Electronic Brakeforce Distribution (EBD), Brake Assist, Traction Control System (TCS) and the TCS Limited Slip Device. This combines into one system Subaru calls Vehicle Dynamics Control (VDC). This is supported by seven airbags (front, side, curtain and the driver’s knee bag), whiplash reduction seats and pre-tensioning seat belts.

Additionally, the Subaru comes with Automatic Stop-Start which turns the car off when you are stationary, for example, at the traffic lights. You need to drive around the foibles in these systems because until you find the right way to pull up to the lights and the right brake pressure to apply the engine will probably stop when you don’t want it to and keep going when you want it to stop.

Inside and out

There is Bluetooth connectivity for your phone, but it wouldn’t connect to my older Nokia N95. The specifications say that you can stream audio over Bluetooth, too, meaning your iPhone or Android phone could be your music source without having to plug it in. You can also plug your iPod or MP3 player in. The sound quality through the six-speaker system was adequate. The radio is controlled through the 4.3-inch touchscreen where you can have a list of favourites or you can browse through all available stations easily.

This touchscreen also displays the images for the reversing camera as well as various vehicle options.

The Australian navigation system is voiced by an efficient sounding lady. She makes for some unusual pronunciations of Maori place names (Whangaparaoa was never in her vocabulary, and stringing together syllables just doesn’t cut it). It also has some glaring problems: St Lukes Rd became Street Lukes Road, for example.

But the main problem was that it occasionally lost the signal and was often behind where I was, telling me to turn when I was already turning. This was a shame because the overall operation of the unit was extremely good – using the touch screen with easy data entry and plenty of extra features within the navigation such as locating the nearest petrol station was simple.

The only other thing that irked me in this $46,990 car was a lack of automatic headlights or window wipers – something I would have preferred over the sunroof, mainly because the included dual climate control air conditioning is far more convenient than a sunroof will ever be. Driver comfort and the driving position was excellent, though. There are leather seats (the driver’s is 8-way power-operated), and the steering wheel is leather, too. All controls are within easy reach.


It’s a standard car so you won’t be off-roading, but with its four-wheel drive capabilities, the Impreza will suit those who might regularly travel on icy or otherwise slippery roads. The sedan has more distinct styling from the hatchback version, too. The hatchback looks very generic; the sedan less so, and while it’s still not quite pretty in the conventional sense, the new Impreza makes a step in the right visual direction, backing it up with competent on-road performance.

Note: this was reviewed as a new vehicle.

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