In the Japanese automotive industry, Subaru is often eclipsed by the likes of Toyota and Honda, if not only in sales, but also just by reputation. But within the little vacuum left behind by the 2 giants, Subaru has taken the time to find its niche and excel at creating vehicles that suit it.
The BRZ and WRX stand testament to their talents. The former is better known under the Toyota badge as the Toyota 86 (although it is produced by Subaru) while the latter is the crown jewel in the Subaru line-up -- the kind of car you would strap yourself into and let rip because you know it can handle it.
And that leads us to the Impreza, base model of the WRX, but taking on a new life with the new Subaru Global Platform.
The new Subaru Impreza, named ‘2016-2017 Japan Car of the Year’ was launched at the Singapore Motor Show a few weeks ago, where I had the pleasure of putting it to the test – not just to feel its capabilities, but also to run it against its closest competitors, to measure how it stacked up.
With each consecutive generation, Subaru has continued to up its design game, so it isn’t surprising that the new 4-door and 5-door variants are its best looking cars yet. It looks cleaner and sharper, carrying on Subaru’s more modern hexagonal grille flanked by C-shaped halogen headlamps, complete with LED daytime running lamps. It’s also more robust in the rear with similar C-shaped taillights giving it a sleek finish.
Both 4-door and 5-door body styles come in two variants, powered either by 1.6 or 2.0 litre Subaru Boxer engine, running an all-wheel drive system with a continuously variable transmission.
My honest impression is that the new Impreza lacks a little power off the mark, but what it sacrifices in raw unlimited forward momentum it replaces with far improved handling, making the car a pleasure to drive – and that it owes to the Subaru Global Platform.
The engineers behind the new body and suspension system went to some lengths to explain the details and rationale behind its construction, as well as provide the numbers showing its improvement, but nothing beat getting behind the wheel and making it live up to those numbers.
The promises from Subaru were pretty straight forward – the new platform is safer, offers more comfort and better control.
And as I put it through a series of tests with the pedal to the floor, it was hard to argue that it didn’t deliver.
The Impreza dominated sharp corners, sudden turns, and emergency braking with ease, responding very closely to sudden adjustments. It didn’t over-steer nor under-steer and handled bumpy roads more comfortably than a couple of its C-segment competitors. On several autocross like tracks, the Impreza came out tops in every run.
Simply put, this is a car drivers want to drive, albeit one with more modern touches, like an electronic parking brake and an 8-inch touch screen entertainment system – the kind of things we’ve come to expect from modern cars.
But stepping on the brakes and screeching to a halt after a lap around a winding and twisting course at full throttle, I faced an incredible dilemma – do I honestly hype up a car for people who won’t get to drive it?
And that is the unfortunate downside: there are currently no plans for the release of the Impreza in Malaysia.
However, the Impreza is just the first car off of Subaru’s production line to be built on the new platform – and it is said platform that really makes the car what it is. The Subaru Global Platform will be the base for the next Subaru XV, and that car – essentially a raised version of the Impreza – is being considered for a late 2017 release.
For more information, visit Motor Image Malaysia’s official website.
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