NEW YORK – After teasing the cars with concepts last year, Subaru unveils production versions of the ’17 Impreza sedan and hatchback last night and today at the 2016 New York International Auto Show.
The new Impreza, due in late 2016 in the U.S., debuts a number of firsts for the ascendant Japanese brand, including a new, more “sculptural” design language, a new global platform and direct injection for the car’s FB 2.0L Boxer 4-cyl.
The addition of DI, plus other enhancements, raises the 2.0L’s horsepower from 148 to 152, Subaru says. In higher trim levels, the engine is paired to the brand’s Lineartronic CVT, which has a 7-speed manual mode and paddle shifters.
Thanks to greater use of high-strength steel vs. the outgoing Impreza, body rigidity rises more than 70% and noise, vibration and harshness is reduced to “a degree not seen in the compact class,” Subaru says, adding the new platform improves crash-energy absorption 40% vs. current models.
The new Impreza has a 1-in. (25-mm) longer wheelbase than the outgoing generation, and sedan and hatchback body styles both are 1.6 ins. (41 mm) longer and 1.5 ins. (38 mm) wider.
A 0.4-in. (10-mm) lower ride height creates less drag, and a lower center of gravity plus a revised suspension are said to “contribute to the biggest-ever leap in Subaru’s performance evolution.”
The rear stabilizer bar now is directly mounted to the body, helping cut body roll 50% vs. the outgoing Impreza.
The car also has better straight-line stability than its predecessor, hinting at future autonomous-driving capability, Subaru says.
Fitting into today’s competitive compact market, the new Impreza will come standard or have available a number of creature-comfort and safety technologies.
Standard items include Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, as well as LED daytime running lights on the Impreza 2.0i Sport grade, now available in sedan and hatchback body styles.
Optional is Subaru’s EyeSight suite of advanced safety technologies, including adaptive cruise control and lane keeping. A new safety technology is a reverse automatic braking system, which applies the brakes if an obstacle is detected while the car is in reverse.
Subaru’s Starlink multimedia system pairs Bluetooth, iPod control, smartphone integration and digital music playback capabilities and is standard on Premium, Sport and Limited grades.
The base grade, 2.0i, comes standard with power windows, door locks and side mirrors, while the Premium Impreza adds heated front seats, windshield, exterior mirrors and automatic headlights.
The Sport grade gets unique suspension tuning, 18-in. alloy wheels and active torque vectoring. All Impreza Sports get a black-finish grille, while the Sport 5-doors has glossy black rear-gate trim.
The Limited Impreza is the most luxurious of all grades, with unique LED daytime running lights, double stitching on leather-trimmed interior armrests and an Impreza-first 6-way power driver’s seat.
Another Impreza first is an available harman/kardon audio system on the Limited; TomTom now supplies maps for that grade’s optional navigation system.
The compact-car segment is the rare group where Subaru hasn’t seen explosive growth in the U.S. Impreza deliveries went from 44,395 in 2010 to 66,785 last year, but the Forester CUV more than doubled sales in the same period to 175,192, WardsAuto data shows.
However, the brand sees localized production boosting sales.
“I would say currently the greatest bottleneck is our Impreza/Crosstrek/Forester lines,” Tom Doll, Subaru of America president, told WardsAuto in December 2013 of how Subaru struggled to get sufficient inventories of the three models out of its Japanese plants.
Strong demand for the Crosstrek and Forester CUVs tended to supplant builds of the current-gen Impreza.
Subaru has said it sees U.S. production of the Impreza, starting later this year at its Lafayette, IN, plant, as helping boost its compact-car sales.