Latest Subaru Impreza is a disappointment in the styling department.
Subarus are solid, dependable vehicles. We get it. What they rarely have been, however, is exciting to look at.
This point was driven home a couple of weeks ago when the Japanese automaker unveiled the all-new 2017 Impreza in front of a gathering of automotive journalists at the 2016 New York International Auto Show. But more on this later.
2017 Subaru Impreza
But first, let's cover the good news.
For one, both the hatchback and sedan are based on the brand's new Subaru Global Platform. Body rigidity is up by over 70 percent and, according to Subi, this significantly enhances "straight-line stability, agility and ride comfort while suppressing noise, vibration and harshness."
The new platform also features a lower center of gravity, while the rear double-wishbone independent suspension has a stabilizer bar that's mounted directly to the body, helping to reduce body roll by 50 percent compared to the outgoing model.
Under the hood, there's a revised version of Subaru's FB 2.0-liter 4-cylinder Boxer engine that gains direct injection and a horsepower boost from 148 to 152. Highline trims also get a CVT with 7-speed manual mode and steering wheel paddle shifters, but whether or not this will make vehicles equipped with this tranny more exciting to drive is, as far as we're concerned, highly debatable.
2017 Impreza sedan buyers will also be able to choose the Sport trim, which was only offered on the hatchback in 2016 (the hatchback Sport trim carries over for 2017). Standard features for both models include unique suspension tuning, 18-inch machine finished alloy wheels and Active Torque Vectoring.
Unique exterior and interior trim bits are also part and parcel of Sport models and represent an upgrade over the Impreza Premium.
In addition to those models, the 2017 Impreza can also be had in the entry-level 2.0i base (not available with roof rails or a moonroof) and top-shelf Limited trim levels (offering standard features that range from a leather interior and push-button start to exterior chrome trim and "Konoji" LED daytime running lights).
That's all well and good and we expect Subaru to sell a boatload (many boatloads, in fact) of its latest model. But the fact is that the new Impreza could've been so much more.
It coulda been a contender
Both the Impreza sedan and hatchback concepts were close enough to production vehicles that we thought Subaru was finally willing to stick its neck out, just a bit, styling-wise. Unfortunately, this is not the case.
Though the cabin is roomier and vehicle aerodynamics are improved with a lower coefficient of drag, we would hardly describe the new Impreza as "sleeker in appearance than the previous models." It's also quite a stretch to state that "Subaru's new design language puts the brand's signature hexagonal grille and hawk-eye headlights onto a more sculptural body."
That's because the chiseled edges of both concepts have been rounded off, which makes the new Impreza look like a dozen other compacts. Remove the Subaru badges and most people would be hard pressed to identify what it is. You can make book on that.