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Dublin: 17°C Sunday 19 September 2021

Review: The Subaru Impreza is an exceptionally safe and reliable family hatchback

We test drive the Japanese hatch on Irish roads.

Image: Dave Humphreys

THIS IS THE fifth-generation Subaru Impreza, which is now sold exclusively as a five-door hatchback.

It’s not the most exciting car to look at – the exterior styling is a bit safe – but it isn’t a bad-looking car. I think it looks better in red than this navy colour. It is built on the new Subaru Global Platform, and this version of the Impreza is bigger than the old model.

However, most notably, it’s stronger and up to 100 per cent stiffer than its predecessor. What that means for the consumer is that this Impreza is extremely tough and exceptionally safe. In fact, the Impreza got the highest-ever JNCAP safety scores awarded to a car in crash tests conducted in its native Japan and was awarded Best in Class in the European NCAP tests.

Source: Dave Humphreys

The cabin is well put together and laid out. The materials are a mix of durable, hard wearing and soft touch. Everything feels solid and well put together. The seats are comfortable, there is plenty of room up front and storage too that helps keep the place looking tidy. Buttons are logically organised on the infotainment system and steering wheel and everything just works very well together. 

Source: Dave Humphreys

You’ll fit two tall adults in the back with very few complaints and the wide opening boot can hold 385 litres with the rear seats up and 1,280 with the rear seats tumbled. So overall, practically and space is decent.

In Ireland, there’s one powertrain option; a turbocharged 1.6-litre ‘boxer’ petrol engine with a CVT automatic transmission and symmetrical four-wheel drive. The engine produces up to 114hp and 150Nm of torque. There are two trim levels from which to choose; S models at €25,995 or SE models at €29,995. S models get 16-inch wheels and cost €280 to tax. SE models get 17-inch alloys but these larger wheel push the tax up to €390 a year. 

Source: Dave Humphreys

The Impreza doesn’t have the cheapest starting price for a family hatchback, but it does come with great levels of equipment. The EyeSight driver assistance system, adaptive cruise control, air-con, heated seats and Apple CarPlay/Android Auto all come as standard. As does four-wheel drive, and few rivals offer this apart from the more premium brands.

Source: Dave Humphreys

Out on the road, the new chassis feels sorted and the ride is firm but still plenty compliant. Grip is vice-like, body-lean is minimal and the steering is well-weighted. The cabin is relatively insulated from noise and once you are up to cruising speed, the Impreza impresses. 

However, getting up to cruising speed can be a bit of an issue. The engine feels more underpowered than the specs would suggest on paper. This combined with the CVT gearbox makes for a rather lethargic performance and noisy acceleration. The nature of the CVT means that it works best when driven more smoothly – attempting a quick overtake tends to result in a steep climbing engine revs that are not matched by pace.

Source: Dave Humphreys

Overall, the Impreza’s all-wheel drive traction, excellent safety scores and outstanding reputation for reliability make for a sensible choice when looking for a family hatchback.

READ: Four SUVs under €30k you can buy right now >

READ: Review: The BMW X2 SUV puts the ‘sport’ back into Sport Utility Vehicle >

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About the author:

Melanie May  / https://www.melaniemay.com

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