2015 Subaru Impreza 5-door – review

2015 Subaru Impreza 5-door with 5-speed manual transmission

2015 Subaru Impreza 5-door with 5-speed manual transmission

It was a strange twist of fate – our 2015 Subaru Impreza 5-door test unit arrived exactly one year after we’d bought a 2015 Subaru WRX.

After living with the WRX for twelve months, testing the sport sedan’s more pedestrian showroom sibling would make for an intriguing comparison.

The 2015 Impreza 5-door is one of the most practical cars in Subaru’s model line up.  With less weight and frontal area than the Crosstrek (or other CUVs), the Impreza wagon (let’s call it what it really is) gets better fuel economy and ought to handle better.

Our test unit was nicely equipped and officially, called the Impreza 2.0i Sport Package 5-Door (5MT).  With an MSRP of $24,795 (+ $1,595 destination charge), that puts this car smack in the middle of the Impreza’s price range.

The Sport Package offers a lot of the ‘essentials’ most drivers want:  heated seats, fog lights, power windows/door locks, sun roof, cruise control, climate control to name a few.   A roofline rear spoiler adds an understated stylistic touch.

The 5-speed manual transmission (a rarity in cars these days, as most manual transmissions have 6 gears these days) brings with it the hill-holder function, which prevents the car from rolling back when the car is stopped on a hill and the clutch is depressed.

The Impreza's instrumentation is clean and simple, just how we like it

The Impreza’s instrumentation is clean and simple, just how we like it

Inside

The current Impreza’s cabin is a significant improvement over the last generation.  Styling is on the stark side but there’s no question that materials and fit and finish are now very good indeed.  Most surfaces that one contacts with the hand are soft to the touch, and the materials don’t look plasticy like they used to.

With this ‘wagon’, visibility is excellent in all directions.

Second row is split in the customary 60-40 style and fold nearly flat for convenient cargo hauling

Second row is split in the customary 60-40 style and fold nearly flat for convenient cargo hauling

The 60-40 split second row easily folds down, nearly flat.  A nice touch is you don’t have to fiddle with the 2nd row head restraints to lower the seatbacks.

5-speed manual transmission

The 5-speed manual made for an engaging driving experience.  A minor criticism is that shifting into 3rd gear felt ‘notchy’, giving my sensitive hand the sensation I could ‘feel’ the gears engaging.  Most people wouldn’t notice this small detail.  And while the 5-speed transmission contributed to the sporty demeanour of the Impreza, one would never mistake this practical 5-door for a ‘sport’ wagon.

On the road

On the road, the Impreza feels soft, despite its Sport Package label.  Of course, that’s coming from a year with our stiffly suspended 2015 WRX.  I didn’t bond with the Impreza initially, but after a few days, the all-wheel-drive wagon grew on me.

There’s no question the Impreza’s suspension is calibrated for comfort rather than agility and handling prowess.  Still, one of the benefits of the compact car class in general is their light weight and smaller footprint, which typically yields nimble cars.  The Subaru wagon is nimble, but lacks the excellent driver feedback that, say, the Volkswagen Golf wagon delivers, nor does the Subie have the wonderful, Germanically firm suspension of the Vee Dub.  What the Impreza needs is a good dose suspension engineering transferred from the WRX sport sedan.

Off the line, the Impreza feels a little reluctant to get moving.  I’m guessing this is one car that could actually benefit by opting for the CVT automatic transmission, which might offer a lower first gear to give more lively acceleration from a stop.  One has to give the 2.0-litre flat-four cylinder engine a good shot of throttle to get the car moving quickly.  And the flat-four engine feels a little gruff when pressed to make power at higher rpms.

Still, Subaru’s 2.0-litre flat-four engine is a workhorse, much like Volkswagen’s 2.0-litre naturally aspirated engine they used for eons.  It’s a proven engine that goes about doing its work reliably and relatively efficiently.  Yes, it puts out an unremarkable 148 horsepower and 145 lb-ft of torque, but it’s rated at an excellent 9.5/7.0 (city/hwy) L/100 km, which is impressive given the car’s fulltime all-wheel-drive system.

The Impreza’s fuel economy was very good over the short period we had it.  In mostly city driving, our 5-speed manual transmission wagon delivered a very good 8.8 l/100 km (32 Imp mpg).

Large and legible, the Impreza's back up camera display has been enlarged over previous years' versions

Large and legible, the Impreza’s back up camera display has been enlarged over previous years’ versions

Overall, we grew to like the Impreza 5-door a lot.

In practical terms, the 5-door wagon version is more utilitarian than the sedan; it’s 2.0-litre engine is sufficiently powerful for most people, and it is fuel-efficient.

But when winter arrives – as it inevitably does – the Subaru’s fulltime all-wheel-drive system makes the Impreza the best of breed in the compact class.

The interior of the current Impreza is vastly improved over the previous generation

The interior of the current Impreza is vastly improved over the previous generation

In this price range, this is the car I’d buy with my own money.

Likes

  • price
  • fuel-efficiency
  • improvement to interior materials

Dislikes

  • more WRX please!  Needs more power and firmer suspension
  • ‘old school’  manual transmission – where’s 6th gear?

Specs

2015 Subaru Impreza 2.0i Sport Package (5MT)
MSRP/Price as-tested $24,795/ $26,390 (includes $1,595 frt/pdi)
Engine 2.0-litre DOHC 16-valve horizontally-opposed 4-cylinder
Power 148 horsepower @ 6200 rpm; 145 lb-ft @ 4200 rpm
Transmission 5-speed manual
Tires/Wheels 205/50R17 all-season
Fuel Economy Rating (L/100km) 9.5/7.0 city/hwy

 

 

 

 

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