For a long time running, the average automobile was your typical compact car – competent for handling for four adults and a fifth in a pinch. It could suffice for a budget-minded small family and netted good fuel economy. Naturally, by covering so many fields this class is a hotly-contested field amongst the industry, so it comes as no surprise that the Subaru Impreza has lot to live up to. Adding fuel to the fire (and making a strong value proposition for consumers) is that everyone is offering bountiful passive and active safety features available in this segment, like EyeSight in the 2018 Subaru Impreza Sport 5-door hatchback.
Coming in at $28,095 for this tester, the Impreza Sport stands as pricier in this segment with the closest competition being the Honda Civic Sport (reviewed here) at $27,690 and the Mazda3 Sport GT at $28,200. Unlike the others however, the Impreza comes standard with Subaru’s now famous symmetrical all-wheel-drive (AWD). In fact, the other two aren’t even offered with AWD at all. For those of us who love being able to pull out of a snow packed driveway or less-than-ideal condition roads, the AWD with appropriate tires will easily at least vy if not win our attention.
Clad in Island Blue Pearl paint, the Impreza sits quite nicely and has adopted a more flowing body line than previous models. It’s no head turner by any means, but it has certainly dropped the chunkier look from before and looks considerably sleeker. Getting into the vehicle is a simple task of falling into the seat but getting out requires a slight haul of the upper body. Something to think about if your knees don’t like bending beyond 90-degrees.
Greeting your vision are the two white dials on the dash; tachometer and speedometer. They are easy to read with a center-mounted LCD nestled between them. The HVAC controls are conveniently mounted underneath a dual-screen infotainment screen with the larger 8.0″ touchscreen front and center, and a smaller but wider display tucked underneath the windshield. Everything has a nice shine to it around the center console but Subaru’s insistence of splashing faux carbon fiber comes off as trying a bit too hard.
Nonetheless, the interior is still quite acceptable and the steering wheel comes to hand easily, inspiring confidence in its heftiness. One particular thing to note is that even when the front power adjustable and heated seats are set, the dash is still readable for most part. This is often an issue with other cars where the wheel covers up part of the dash when adjusted. Sight lines from the driver’s position is quite good with the exception of the massive C-pillars behind your left shoulder. Thankfully, this trim comes with blind spot detection.
Equipped with Subaru’s 2.0L dual overhead cam (DOHC), horizontally-opposed four-cylinder, coupled with the Lineartronic continuously-variable transmission (CVT), the Impreza pulls along extremely smoothly. Power delivery was smooth and the car pulled exactly when I wanted it to. Unlike some other marriages of CVTs and engines, there was no ‘moo-ing’ of the engine as you revved it up to get onto a highway.
On paper, this car is rated for 8.4 and 6.5 L/100km (city/highway), but I managed to only get 9.1L/100km during my week of heavy city driving. I must also point out that my weekly commute is extremely short bursts of 4-5 blocks of driving. In other words, the worst kind of city driving. It is quite likely the posted numbers are real-world achievable and my observed sample was highly skewed.
In terms of driving dynamics, the Impreza has a firmer suspension that might be borderline too firm for some, but throw it into a corner and it will hug competently. This same firmness does wonders in less than ideal gravel or dirt paths so the tradeoff is there. Nonetheless, on perfectly paved roads, the ride is quite comfortable and noise is attenuated well. Conversations and audio from the Android Auto/Apple CarPlay ready infotainment system can be heard quite well and it makes for a great companion for the daily commute. Don’t expect the same rough and tumble hardiness of the bigger brother WRX (reviewed here) and you’ll be pleasantly happy with it.
The EyeSight technology utilizes a pair of cameras mounted at the top of the windshield near the rear view mirror to constantly monitor for incoming traffic from the sides and the front as well as lane departure and adaptive cruise control. Subaru even throws you a screen that shows what the system is monitoring. The system works quite well and most importantly, smoothly. Throughout my time with it, it never jerked the car around or slammed on the brakes suddenly. Everything about its interactions felt like a well-behaved and attentive driver was behind the wheel.
From a space perspective, the interior is well laid out, albeit you’ll be hard-pressed to fit a fifth adult in the middle seat on the back bench. Four adults fit in fine with me but more than once it was brought up at how similar the interior was to the Crosstrek (reviewed here). This makes sense as the Crosstrek is based on the same platform, but somehow it does eke out a roomier feel. The Impreza manages to store 589L of cargo behind the passenger seats and if you decide to throw those down (to an almost flat configuration), you can expand that well into 1,566L.
Given that the 2018 Subaru Impreza Sport 5-door offers standard all-wheel-drive, Subaru has thrown Japanese design, practicality and economy into a neat little package for the hard-fought consumer dollar. If you’re in the market for a compact car that can haul you out of less than ideal conditions with great passive and active safety features, the Impreza is a great value and now more palatable than ever.