Okay, guilty as charged: I'm a long time Subarista, and have been on a drunken stupor thanks to their AWD and boxer engine Kool-Aid ever since 1996. To date we have owned 6 Subarus, and I'm on my second WRX, to be replaced with a next-gen Subie, model as of yet to be determined. I'm not alone, as many Subaru owners are repeat buyers. Their Kool-Aid really tastes good to many of us.
I also have known several key people at Subaru of America (SOA) for years; and as such, have been invited to a number of model launch events. So I was at the off-site pre-show debut Tuesday night of the new Impreza, as well as the "world" press debut on Wednesday at the New York Auto Show. So I got a really good chance to examine the two cars they had on hand. I've looked at them from virtually every angle, looked under the hood, sat in them, fiddled with the knobs, switches and whatever, photographed them, have read and studied virtually every press release to date on the car. And I have talked extensively with the SOA executives on the floor about the new 2017 Impreza.
Okay, first things first, the styling: Subaru has been accused — and rightfully so — of creating stunning concepts that somehow never translate well upon reaching the showroom. With this new Impreza that has changed; no, it isn't exactly like the two recent concepts, but the key elements remain intact — and that's what's important. As with every concept, as it transitions to production, impractical things and shapes disappear; same with government-mandated things, as they change as required. The difference here however, is the "drama" of the concept pretty much remains. That can't be said of earlier Subarus.
This is a good-looking car from virtually any angle. If you're expecting WRX-like visual excitement, you're ignoring what the Impreza is about and who the audience is for this car. The car does car hint visually a bit at the WRX, but if that's not enough, buy a WRX. It's there for the asking.
For me, it's what's inside that counts the most. That's where I spend all my time, in the driver's seat. So the interior has to be spot-on to get my vote, and this new Impreza gets my vote. A lot of it is in details. The navigation screen has been raised a bit on the center stack, plus on up-level models the screen has been increased to 8 inches. The angle of the power window switches on the door armrests is superb. The seat heater switches are more accessible; there's a lot of little stuff like that. It's true, the devil really is in the details.
What has me really stoked is that CarPlay and Android Auto is standard on every 2017 Impreza, even bottom-feeder models. I also understand that Eyesight will be available on more models. I've spent many miles driving Eyesight-equipped dealer loaners, and have come to really appreciate it. I especially love the adaptive cruise control, which is part of that package. Lastly the interior no longer looks low-rent, at least on the models on display. It does look much more upscale; again, a long-standing criticism of Imprezas having been addressed.
The Sport model is now a specific trim level, and not a sub-set model as before. It also lives up to its name to a degree with 225/40x18 tires, sport suspension and torque vectoring. The steering ratio on all Imprezas is a very quick 13: 1, and the handling is reported to be excellent.
Is it perfect?
No. A 4 horsepower bump to 152 is nothing to get excited about. It really should have gotten the FB16 DIT with around 170 horsepower, at least on the Sport, and as an option on the Limited.
All the details haven't been released yet. The car hits showrooms in December, so more info will be forthcoming as that date approaches.
In a number of areas (infotainment) this new Impreza leapfrogs the more upscale WRX, Forester, Legacy and Outback. So I would guess those models will get CarPlay et al for 2017 as well. Lastly, the WRX has always been based off the Impreza. If this holds true, it bodes well for the next WRX.