The beauty of all-wheel-drive? The Impreza is all new for 2012 and has taken on the styling cues from the current-generation Legacy. It's certainly a sharp looking car; arguably one of the best-looking in its class.
I have personally been a huge Subaru fan for as long as I can remember. While growing up, my ideal “when I’m all grown up” choice for a practical car was always a Legacy GT with a manual transmission. The introduction of the WRX into the North American market in 2002 only increased my affection toward Subaru. All-wheel-drive on everything in their lineup and nearly all of them were available with a manual? I was like a kid in a candy store when I went to check them out every single time I was in the market for a car. Ultimately it never ended up working out for me for various reasons, but I was still very excited to get the opportunity to sample a 2012 Subaru Impreza Limited 2.0i for a test.
The Impreza is all new for 2012 and has taken on the styling cues from the current-generation Legacy. It’s certainly a sharp looking car; arguably one of the best-looking in its class. The 17″ alloys standard on the Limited model definitely made me do a double take on the profile of the car. The Limited comes with a 2.0L boxer 4-cylinder featuring 148 horsepower and 145 lb-ft of torque. Rather than my preferred 5- or 6-speed manual, this car was equipped with a CVT gearbox.
See, I personally despise CVTs; I understand all the benefits in fuel mileage, reliability, and all that jazz. However, in my eyes all of that is nullified because it ruins every little bit of the driving experience. What has the potential to be a fantastic vehicle ends up feeling like a tinny, slow vehicle with a significant handicap. I’m more than comfortable with the idea of a conventional automatic gearbox that shifts itself at programmed intervals, whether it’s tuned more for sport or comfort. The simple fact is that the noise the CVT makes in any vehicle I have driven thus far is something that disallows me to actually enjoy driving the vehicle at all.
The Impreza had a decent amount of pep, and while top-end acceleration was virtually non-existent, the car was more than competent zipping around the city. The paddle shifters certainly helped me get a little bit more power whenever I wanted. The symmetrical all-wheel-drive was a nice addition and it worked its magic quite well when trying to get up a few sandy hills to a campsite up north. Features like leather seats, HID headlights, and a sunroof were niceties that I would most definitely expect from an ‘economy car’ priced at $28,095.
One question I have yet to get an answer to; why did Subaru choose to put an aftermarket head unit into their car? Is it to target the youth consumer? Frankly, the stereo and its controls were my biggest issue with the Impreza. The Pioneer AVH touch-screen deck would be a nice addition to any 1998 Civic parked in the local high school parking lot, but at nearly $30,000, I’d expect something much classier. This is the first time I’ve ever seen a Bluetooth microphone not integrated somewhere into the interior, but a generic Pioneer plastic unit clipped to the headliner. A few years ago when I was in my late teens-early twenties, I had my Mazda3 fitted with a very similar setup aftermarket. Then I grew up.
I managed to observe 6.5L/100km highway in the Impreza, driving with a very light foot. In combined driving, I averaged 8.0L/100km regularly. The fuel economy of the car isn’t something I’d consider particularly bad, especially considering it’s a boxer engine with full-time “symmetrical” all-wheel-drive, but it wasn’t anywhere near the 5.5L/100km highway that is promised.
Don’t get me wrong, the Impreza isn’t by any means an awful car. I’ve just put it (more specifically, its turbocharged sibling) on a pedestal since every single Impreza I’ve driven since 2002 was an absolutely awesome experience. This new model isn’t quite up to par with my expectations from Subaru, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t hope. What I would personally suggest is to do away with the CVT, put a better factory head unit in it, and you’ve got yourself one competitive car. With its $19,995 starting price (nicely equipped, too!), the basic Impreza with a manual transmission is definitely something to consider.