Reviews

2015 Subaru Impreza Walk Around


Flaunting its freshly-revised front end, which hasn’t changed dramatically but benefits from a more refined appearance, the 2015 Subaru Impreza presents a dynamically forward-thrusting shape. The base of its A-pillar is planted well forward, which rakes the windshield steeply back, resulting in a sleek, modern profile. But this is more than just a pretty face.

In overall length the Impreza sedan measures just 180.3 inches; the 5-door is actually shorter, at 173.8 inches. But the aggressive cabin shape, besides looking great, allowed Subaru designers to achieve startling interior space and efficiency. The Impreza is roomy, comfortable, and easy to get in and out of. The front door opening is enormous, and the rear door opening fairly large, too.

In other respects as well, the Impreza is pleasing and modern. Its low, short hood and streamlined shape contribute to an enthusiastic form that moves through the air efficiently, registering a low coefficient of drag of 0.31 for the 4-door and 0.33 Cd for the 5-door. The nose is aggressive, with air intakes shrouded for the lowest amount of aerodynamic drag. The rakishly shaped headlight clusters seem to glower with determination. The Impreza’s sides have three character lines, thrusting downward and ahead. Finally, the wheel wells are surrounded by a distinctive flat semicircular bevel that keeps the profile from looking too heavy.

It’s fairly easy to distinguish one grade from another, based on wheel designs. Base 2.0i models wear basic 7-spoke covers over steel wheels. Premium models upgrade to alloy wheels of a pleasingly simple 10-spoke design (actually five split-spokes). Limited rims look sophisticated and airy, if somewhat busy; they have 15 spokes total, 10 of which are visually paired, so 5 pairs alternate with 5 singles. Add fog lights and a dash of chrome here and there, and the Limited is hands-down the most elegant and mature of the line. Sport-model rims feature 10 wide, flattened, angular spokes that, with their gunmetal-grey finish, manage to look at once sturdy and tortured. Topped with their conspicuous black roof racks, Sport models look more ready for a safari than a road rally.

All in all, the Impreza is one of the most attractive small cars in the marketplace, eschewing the cheap/minimalist theme of some others for an appearance of true chic.

Interior

Entering the cabin for the first time, the Impreza has an airy, nicely stylish feel, with a relatively low beltline and a large greenhouse containing big windows that welcome the outside world. The instrumentation looks simple and straightforward, as opposed to high-tech and demanding. Overall, it’s a look that is fully in keeping with Subaru’s gee-whiz-free approach. The dashboard and switchgear are covered with very nice soft-touch materials that give them an expensive, adult feel.

In keeping with this well-equipped theme, all Impreza models are fitted with a driver-side knee airbag, complementing the full standard array of mandated airbags.

Similarly, the layout and dispersion of instruments and controls is nicely intuitive; you feel you understand all you need to, from the first exposure to them. The main dials for engine speed (redline 6600 rpm) and vehicle speed are black-on-white and almost disappointingly plain, in keeping with Subaru’s no-nonsense tone. The cruise control, audio control and hands-free phone controls on the steering wheel are dead simple, with little toggles that do their job well. A small multi-function Information display is located dead ahead, between the tachometer and speedometer.

In addition to the speedometer and tachometer, there’s only a bar-type fuel gauge and an MPG indicator below the speedometer. Gauges are easy to read at a glance. The central video information/navigation screen is rather small, but details and text are clear and sufficiently crisp, despite a soft pastel map appearance. The screen is in a rather low position, but that’s typical.

The available navigation system incorporates Subaru’s Aha smartphone integration, whose features include radio stations, newsfeeds, audiobooks and more. Aha uses the Nav system’s synthetic voice and voice-activation technology not only to receive commands, but to read Tweets, podcasts, etc. out loud, so drivers are less tempted to take their eyes off the road.

The over-left-shoulder view is narrowed between pillar and headrest; but otherwise, visibility is quite good. Imprezas have an unusually low cowl and low steering wheel, which are great for forward visibility. You can almost see the front of the hood, which is a rarity on contemporary automobiles.

Front seats are average in terms of comfort and lateral support, appropriate to this thrifty, fuel-efficient car’s place in the market. Seatbacks are tall enough to provide some whiplash protection to bigger drivers. Despite a short driver’s seat bottom, the Impreza delivers good thigh support, coupled with very good back support. Even with a sunroof, head space is ample. The driver’s left elbow is somewhat constricted, but legroom is fine.

In the rear compartment, legroom is resourcefully increased by scalloping out the backs of the front seats. To be specific, rear occupants get 35.6 inches of leg space. Side positions are roomy (though the headliner looks and feels strictly utilitarian even on the Limited model). The center position might be tolerable, except for the intrusive floor hump and the typical hard seatback.

Trunk volume in the 4-door sedan is 12.0 cubic feet, but the 5-door, with its cargo room maximized, delivers a generous 52.4 cubic feet (22.5 cubic feet behind the back seat). Lift-over height is moderate at 27 inches.

The Impreza’s basic climate-control system is absolutely straightforward and powerful, and the audio is good by contemporary standards; not exceptional, but acceptable. On the down side, markings on the three rotary knobs for adjustment of automatic climate control are unclear, so it’s not easy to tell where the knob is pointing. The body-color electric outside mirrors are large enough for decent rearward visibility.

Subaru advises that the updated design for 2015 included steps to quiet the ride, including additional sound-deadening material and thicker, better-sealed window glass

This is a comfortable, well-furnished interior, fully in keeping with Subaru’s down-to-earth practicality. The Impreza is a simple economy sedan in some respects, but with sufficient style and comfort to attract buyers well beyond the Subaru faithful.

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