Subaru has stopped the strip tease and finally whipped the covers off its new production Impreza in New York. Built around Fuji Heavy Industries' new modular platform, the new Impreza promises to combine high levels of active safety with a sharp new chassis that will hopefully return Subaru to its World Rally Championship winning best.
At the core of the new Impreza is Fuji Heavy Industries' new Subaru Global Platform (SGP), which increases rigidity through the body and chassis by between 70 and 100 percent. Thanks to the new structure, which has stronger joins between its individual parts, drivers should feel less vibration through the steering wheel, floor and seats.
Because the new platform also includes stiffer suspension mounts than its predecessor, the new car's suspension setup can absorb bigger hits without transmitting refinement-ruining vibrations into the cabin. The new suspension setup also has its rear stabilizer attached directly to the body, which is claimed to reduce body roll by 50 percent compared to previous models.
Combine tighter body control with a center of gravity that's been dropped by 5 mm, and Subaru could just have the perfect base to bring the aging WRX and WRX STI formula into the 21st century, where they're currently outgunned compared to hot hatch heroes like the Ford Focus RS and Mercedes A45 AMG.
As is standard for anything with a Subaru badge on the bonnet, power comes from a horizontally opposed engine. Compared to the 2.0-liter boxer in the current car, 80 percent of the parts in the new Impreza's 152 hp (113 kW) motor are new - a changes Subaru claims have made the engine lighter, more powerful and fuel efficient.
Also tweaked is the Lineartronic CVT gearbox, which is lighter and should deliver better pickup for drivers desperate to win the traffic-light grand prix. There's also a revised manual mode which tunes the constantly variable transmission to mimic a seven-speed auto gearbox, allowing drivers to take control using the paddles behind the wheel.
While Subarus have always traded on the active safety benefits of all-wheel drive, buyers expect a raft of safety features that will save their bacon if they get distracted, too. Just like the Outback, the Impreza will be fitted with Subaru's excellent EyeSight system, which uses two stereo cameras mounted up near the rearview mirror to control adaptive cruise control, auto emergency braking and lane keeping assist.
Having used the system on an Outback we can confirm Subaru's EyeSight is one of the best active safety setups out there, which should act as a big drawcard in the showroom. If, for some reason, you and the systems can't avoid a bingle, the car's new platform is 40 percent more effective at absorbing impact energy.
While the active safety setup is one drawcard, the car's totally redesigned interior is another. Gone is the basic, blocky design of past Imprezas, and in its place is a sharp new dashboard that houses a CarPlay and Android Auto compatible touchscreen. Subaru also says it has ramped up the quality of its materials, something it desperately needed to do if the new car is to compete with the Volkswagen Golf and Mazda 3.
As for the exterior styling, well, we'll let you be the judge. It's definitely a better looking car than its predecessor, but we can't help being a bit disappointed in Subaru for not sticking more closely to the edgy look previewed on the Impreza Sedan and Hatch concepts we saw last year. Or, as our man on the ground put it, the car is "not very imprezzing..."
The first Imprezas will roll off the production line in late 2016, so for now you'll have to get to the New York Motor Show for a look. Failing that, you can check out our gallery.
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