16.4 L/ 100km
The new generation Subaru Impreza RS combines all the style of the WRX in a comfortable, sporty-looking unit without the expense or insurance concerns of its high performance brother. Subaru has been the champion of All-Wheel-Drive (AWD) for over 30 years and with the newly developed Subaru intelligent chassis and fully independent suspension system, the new generation RS Impreza is an impressive car to drive, whether on the track, open highway or a second class gravel road.
Value for money
The new Impreza RS sits above the 2.0 litre R and RX and under the WRX. The manual 2.0 RS starts at $29,490 and $31,490 for the automatic. The manual-only WRX is $39,990.
The Impreza RS has an impressive list of standard features including a new DOHC Boxer Engine with AVCS (Active Valve Control System) that produces 110kW of power and 196 Nm of torque. There are 16-inch alloy wheels, front fog lamps, climate control airconditioning, cruise control and power steering, mirrors and windows. The premium six-stack, in-dash CD entertainment system, which includes MPS/WMA/iPod compatibility, has 10 speakers and steering wheel controls. Combined with Subaru's standard constant All-Wheel-Drive system, VDC stability control and front, side and rear curtain air bags it's an impressive standard package.
Design and function
Space and practicality
The new Impreza has a 95mm longer wheel base but its external length is actually 50mm shorter and offers greater interior space despite its shorter overall length. Head, leg and shoulder room in the cabin have increased with the only let down being the centre console and arm rest. The arm rest is too low and too far back and some of the centre console pockets are very shallow and not capable of carrying much.Considering the space-saver tyre, the boot floor is very high. Further inspection reveals the large rear muffler is mounted inside the rear panel, taking up a lot of under-body space.
This is one area where Subaru has excelled - interior comfort gets better with every new model. The sports front seats on the RS look a little bulky but you're fully supported from the top of the one piece back to the base. Even the back seat is comfortable, giving good support to the back, buttocks and legs.
This is another area Subaru does so well. The dash layout in the new model is functional and easy to use with all controls within easy reach of the driver. Steering wheel controls operate the audio system on the RX, RS and WRX. Cruise control buttons on the steering wheel are standard across the range.
Subaru is committed to safety with all models gaining the maximum 5 star ANCAP rating for occupant safety. The Impreza also scores the maximum 4 star ANCAP rating for pedestrian safety. Standard safety features on the RS include ABS brakes with EDB, dual front, side, head and torso airbags, front and rear curtain airbags and Electronic Stability Control (called VDC - Vehicle Dynamics Control - by Subaru).
Build quality and finish
Subaru's engineers have reduced its predecessor's weight by 48kg yet have managed to strengthen the body, reduce fuel consumption and enhance safety. The addition of full door frames has also improved the NVH (noise vibration and harshness) across the range.
All Imprezas are equipped with the latest advanced engine immobilisers, Data Dot theft security and central locking remotes with remote tailgate unlocking. NRMA Insurance gives it a theft rating of 73.5 out of possible 120.
On the road
On our test the 2.0 litre 110kW manual achieved an average fuel consumption of 9.3 litres per 100km. Subaru's own figures are 8.9 litres per 100km - a 5.3 per cent improvement over the previous 2.0i RV manual (9.4 litres per 100km).
The new 2.0 litre engine produces 110kW of power at 6400rpm and 196 Nm of torque at 3200 rpm - a 20 per cent improvement in power, 7 per cent improvement in torque and 5.3 per cent torque increase over the previous 2.0 DOHC unit. The engine was a little flat during testing but displayed slightly improved power higher in the rev range. However, it does get noisy when pressed. The improved gear shift adds to the driving experience.
The RS Impreza sports a new, sophisticated suspension package that easily absorbs the harshness and shock of our roads. Based on the Liberty, it maintains a high level of comfort while providing good stability and control even on fast, tight corners.
Handling and steering
This is where the new suspension package comes into its own. During testing at Oran Park and on the open road the Impreza handled just about anything in the way of high speed, tight corning although there was noticeable body roll. The well matched chassis, suspension and steering combine to make this car a pleasure to drive.
To improve stopping distance the new Imprezas have two-pot brakes. All models feature ABS, EDB and brake assist linked to the VDC system. Brake discs are 15 inch ventilated front and 15 inch solid rear and displayed no problems pulling up during high speed braking. Under normal test conditions they performed strongly, with a reassuring pedal feel and solid stops.
Subaru offers hill start assist on its manual models. This prevents the vehicle rolling backwards on a hill while first gear is engaged or forwards when reverse is engaged and the clutch is depressed.
Smoothness and quietness
The familiar tone of the Subaru Boxer engine is still evident on hard acceleration but is balanced out with considerably smoother acceleration and gear changes, achieved by the improved powertrain. This Subaru is impressive with its levels of quietness and refinement and is a considerable improvement over the previous model.
Expectations are always high for a new Subaru and this European-styled Impreza may just live up to the mark although there may be questions on the body styling and slightly underpowered 2.0 litre engine that just didn't seem to have enough kick during our testing.
However, Subaru scores top marks for its commitment to safety, being the first and only company to achieve the maximum five-star ANCAP rating for occupant safety in every Australian model in its range.