The fifth-generation Subaru Impreza is much improved from top to bottom, but a poor engine and gearbox keep it trailing in this competitive class
Subaru reckons that, in some ways, it’s a victim of its own success.After tearing up the World Rally Championship with Colin McRae in the 1990s, many onlookers today still associate the brand with those hair-raising. blue-bodied, gold-wheeled exploits, so much so that the manufacturer says it’s suffering from a “rally hangover”. And it’s going to take more than a strong coffee and a bacon sandwich to shake this one.Subaru says this association gives people skewed expectations of its new products. Its cars are still ‘fun’, but it would rather that potential customers associated the brand with the three pillars it now builds itself upon: capability, safety and resilience. Are you still awake? Good, because there’s reason enough to pay some attention to the new Impreza.Although Subaru’s current portfolio is SUV-focused, the Impreza is its best known and most recognisable car, so rather than let it fizzle out into extinction, the brand has kept it on for a fifth-generation model. It’s built on the new Subaru Global Platform, which we first tested in an early drive of the XV and offers torsional rigidity gains of 70-100% over the outgoing Impreza.The Impreza also gets an updated interior, a new engine and the promise of improved driving dynamics.The no-nonsense line-up consists of two naturally aspirated, four-cylinder boxer petrol engines – 1.6-litre and 2.0-litre units paired with a CVT gearbox – and one trim level, SE.