Subaru looks to get grip with all-weather drivers
06:00 23 October 2014
Subaru’s all-wheel drive Impreza family hatch fills a gap in the market, says Andy Russell.
Subaru has a clear focus of the type of customer its reintroduced Impreza hatchback is aimed at.
Paul Tunnicliffe, Subaru UK managing director, said: “We are trying to corner the district nurse market.”
I think of district nurses driving Morris Minors like Nurse Gladys Emmanuel in Ronnie Barker’s hit TV comedy Open All Hours – but he sees it appealing to people with jobs that involve driving in all weathers.
The Impreza’s trump card is that it is an affordable C-segment, mid-size family hatchback which includes all-wheel drive as standard – and all from £17,495 on the road.
A more favourable exchange rate for sterling against the Japanese yen has now made it viable for Subaru UK to import the latest Impreza again to meet customer demand.
The Impreza is a hatchback aimed squarely at buyers who will appreciate its engineering – it also follows the Subaru tradition of a horizontally-opposed Boxer engine – and need or want the reassurance of all-wheel drive.
It is offered only with a 114PS 1.6-litre petrol engine – there is no diesel unfortunately – which makes reasonable progress with the five-speed manual gearbox, which also gets dual-range transmission for better traction is slippery conditions, but needs to be worked hard with the Lineartronic CVT transmission which dents economy.
Nor is there much to get excited about in the way it drives. It’s all about getting from A to B safely and without fuss while the soft ride soaks up bumps and lumps so you arrive neither shaken nor stirred.
The new Impreza has a longer wheelbase than the previous model, while the windscreen has been pushed further forward, creating more space in the cabin with decent legroom in the back for large adults. And the 380-litre boot offers useful load space too and the rear seat backs split 60/40 and fold down.
The cabin, much of which is shared with the XV crossover, feels a little dated compared with rivals but it’s functional and durable and hard to fault the simplicity of the controls and dials which will find favour with many buyers.
While all-wheel drive makes the Impreza different from the norm in this class, the single-specification RC model also comes loaded with desirable kit as standard such as a rear vision camera, hill-start assist, Bluetooth, front fog lamps, power-fold heated door mirrors, heated front seats, 16in alloy wheels, dual-zone automatic air conditioning, automatic wipers, cruise control, tyre pressure monitoring, seven airbags and stability control.
The Impreza is a niche model, filling a gap if you need to get out and about in slippery conditions and want an affordable family hatchback alternative to a sport utility vehicle.