Subaru Impreza Sport 2.0 2017 new car review

Subaru has made a mix of excellent design choices and questionable design choices with the Impreza range over the years.

Darren Cottingham
Darren Cottingham
Expert reviewer | Auto Media Group

Subaru has made a mix of excellent design choices and very questionable design choices with the Impreza range over the years.

Exterior , 4 out of 5 Drive , 4 out of 5 Safety , 5 out of 5 Value , 4.5 out of 5

Overall score , 4.4 out of 5

The good
  • Excellent specification
  • All-wheel drive for under $30,000
  • Eyesight safety system
The not-so-good
  • No automatic headlights
  • Needs a little more power

The fifth-generation 2017 Impreza is not a radical departure from the previous model at first look – a bit more rounded, but fortunately, it’s neither groundbreaking nor safe, so it should sell well. It’s what’s under the skin that’s changed a lot.

The car is built on a new platform which is stiffer, stronger, slightly wider and slightly longer with a lower centre of gravity. This platform is going to be used for other Subaru models in the future, so is an important development for the company.

Good value for money

It used to be that Subaru was your rock-solid option for a competent four-wheel drive car when you couldn’t afford an Audi. You put up with plasticky interiors because the price was much better. 

Now the interiors are significantly improved over the previous model and if you take a look at the price (under 30 grand) this is a surprising amount of car for the money.

There’s a good deal of practical space in the cabin, and the trim seems more upmarket without being tacky or ‘try-hard’. Boot space is ample at 340-litres with the rear seats up, and you can easily transport four burly adults in comfort or two adults and three kids (there’s a couple of centimetres more legroom in the rear).

There are no vents for air conditioning in the rear, but there is dual-zone climate control in the front. Two screens adorn the dashboard.

The slimmer top one mimics the row of dials that could be found on certain WRX STI models and shows water and oil temperature, and throttle percentage. The larger 6.2-inch one serves as the reversing camera display plus a touchscreen for media and settings.

You can connect your iPhone via Bluetooth and take advantage of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

Little change under bonnet

Not much has changed under the bonnet, however, with the 1995cc, 110kW four-cylinder engine driving all four wheels. 100kmh comes up in 11.1 seconds and the fuel consumption is quoted at 6.8-litres per 100km (combined cycle).

It drives through a CVT gearbox with manual mode (gearstick and paddle shifters) and features automatic start/stop to help conserve fuel. While it switches directions well enough, the engine is left wanting for power.

Obviously, Subaru has been pushing the all-wheel drive message since its rally success in the ‘90s, and the Impreza is one of the few cars in this price bracket that features all-wheel drive.

The first thing guys of my generation probably think of with a Subaru Impreza is either watching the iconic blue and gold of Colin McRae’s 555 Subaru sliding around world rally championship courses, or (in the off-season) being him on a PlayStation 1 in Colin McRae Rally. Subaru’s aim these days is to take up Volvo’s mantle of being the safety pioneer.

To this end, EyeSight – Subaru’s pre-collision, autonomous emergency braking and lane departure warning system – is included as standard.

Every other electronic safety trick is included, too, as well as 7 airbags, and all this adds up to a 5-star ANCAP crash test rating.

The other thing that’s safe is the range of relatively muted colour options: blues (but not the iconic 555 blue), greys, black, white and ‘Venetian Red Pearl’.

Note: This was reviewed as a new vehicle.

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Darren Cottingham
Darren Cottingham
Expert reviewer | Auto Media Group

I've been obsessed with cars since crashing my toy cars together as a toddler. Since then I've worked on some of NZ's biggest automotive websites. I've been reviewing cars for ten years and am passionate about driving standards, training and education.

Opinions are my own and not those of Trade Me.