2016 Subaru Impreza Driving Impressions

It might not be fair to compare the Impreza to similar five-door compacts because it’s all-wheel drive, but still, we have to say the Impreza isn’t as much fun to drive as the Ford Focus or Mazda 3. The Impreza is balanced (its boxer engine helps a lot), responsive and free of drama, but it lacks that edgy and athletic feel. Its 148 horsepower and 145 pound-feet of torque is adequate but underwhelming.

The horizontally opposed engine carries its weight low, and is mounted in the Impreza frame as low and far back as possible. This gives a low center of gravity, which enables stability in quick corners and esses. The feedback of electric power steering system is very good, while the brakes are progressive and reassuring.

We like the 5-speed manual transmission. The CVT, even with paddle shifters and programmed steps, makes the engine feel sluggish at times. The CVT still allows quick acceleration, but it’s slow to rev when power is quickly needed.

The all-wheel-drive system is different with the CVT. The manual cars get a basic viscous coupling in the center differential, while the CVT is uses an electronically controlled hydraulic clutch to apply torque front to rear. Subaru has for many years used different all-wheel-drive systems with different transmissions. Subaru dominated the World Rally Championship with its all-wheel-drive expertise.

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