2014 Subaru Impreza Review - The One And Only

2014 Subaru Impreza 5-door Touring
Subaru is operating with a number of unfair advantages. Actually they're not unfair at all. Subaru isn't stopping rival automakers from reading their playbook.

All Subaru Imprezas are all-wheel-drive cars. All-wheel-drive isn't an option on specific Impreza variants; it's not reserved exclusively for low-volume sporting
examples. Every Impreza sends its power to all four wheels.


THE GOOD
Uniquely Subaru feel

Hatchback flexibility
Genuine all-wheel-drive
All-around visibility
Fun to hustle
THE BAD
They forgot to style the outside
They forgot to style the inside
A number of chintzy bits
Not a great CVT
Overall lack of refinement

Second, the Impreza can be purchased in hatchback form. In North America, you can't buy a hatchback version of the Toyota Corolla, Honda Civic, Chevrolet Cruze, Nissan Sentra, or Dodge Dart.

There are issues that come hand in hand with these benefits. All-wheel-drive adds cost, and an all-wheel-drive configuration also adds weight, which increases fuel consumption and curbs acceleration. There's a thick centre hump which severely reduces rear seat space for the middle passenger. Meanwhile, extinguishing the trunk in favour of a hatch adds $900 to the Impreza's price in Canada.

Yet, by arriving to a front-wheel-drive sedan-oriented fight with an all-wheel-drive hatchback, Subaru secures for the Impreza a large number of sales before we've even gotten down to the nitty-gritty.
2014 Subaru Impreza hatchback open
It is nevertheless challenging to ascertain whether the Impreza that Subaru loaned us last week, a 2.0i Touring model, would be competitive sans AWD. In that case, the Impreza would be a completely different beast; a less expensive package overall. Rear-driven BRZ aside, it wouldn't be a proper Subaru.

Ignore the hypothetical, then, and judge the fourth-generation Impreza on merit, if you can. Bland on so many levels, the 2014 Subaru Impreza manages to be an incredibly unique car, a proxy Saab in a Saab-free era. For better and for worse.

The Impreza is devoid of face, utterly forgettable when viewed from the rear, and missing the tell-tale Subaru cues which the company's designers have reserved for faster examples of this car: the ultra-puffed arches, functional hood scoops, gaudy wings, visible exhaust tips, and big wheels. 
2014 Subaru Impreza Touring front
All Photo Credits: Timothy Cain ©www.GoodCarBadCar.net
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In this class, of course, the Impreza is not unique in its blandness, but Subaru didn't improve matters inside, where the Impreza more closely resembles the compacts of yesteryear than this year. 

2014 SUBARU IMPREZA
2.0i TOURING HATCHBACK
Base Price * (CDN): $24,190
As-Tested Price * (CDN): $25,490
Engine: 2.0L DOHC 16-valve H-4
Transmission: continuously variable
Horsepower: 148 @ 6200 rpm
Torque: 145 lb-ft @ 4200 rpm
Curb Weight: 2976 pounds
Drive Type: all-wheel-drive
Length: 173.8 inches
Width: 68.5 inches
Height: 57.7 inches
Wheelbase: 104.1 inches
Passenger Volume: 2763 litres
Cargo Volume: 638 litres
Max. Cargo Volume: 1485 litres
Centre Console: 15 tennis balls
Glove Compartment: 23 tennis balls
EPA City: 27 mpg = 8.7 L/100km
EPA Highway: 36 mpg = 6.5 L/100km
Observed: 31.4 mpg
Observed: 7.5 L/100km
* includes destination/delivery.
Base price refers to 2.0i Touring 5-door.
Base Impreza price is $21,590.
Base Impreza 5-door price is $22,490.
And feels it, too. There's not a single part inside that doesn't feel like like Subaru was desperate to save every penny.

Except for the seats, which are terrific. Slightly firm, slightly cushiony, with a measurable amount of bolstering, these are some of the compact sector's better standard seats. They're not good enough to make you think the rear doors thunk when they really clink, nor will they shut out excessive engine and road noise. But the seats are a major plus in a car where buttons and switches were built to a cost in order to save money for an all-wheel-drive system to be installed at a relatively affordable price point.

In the driving experience, Subaru has offered up a mixed bag. If you pay an extra $1300 to snuff out the clutch pedal, the 2014 Impreza is saddled with a lackluster continuously variable transmission. You'll suffer through the moaning under acceleration and the wind-up-and-pull-forward sensation we associated with CVTs from a prior generation. It seems as though the CVT is a real power sapper, too - the Impreza's horsepower-to-pound ratio isn't dreadful - because these 148 ponies act as though they've been starved and dehydrated.

But there remains something endearing about the horizontally-opposed 2.0L four-cylinder Subaru engine. It takes forever and a day to crank, there's an only barely apparent warble, and it does produce torque where you'll want it to produce torque. 

Flat-fours, also known as boxer four-cylinders, are as rare as Saabs these days, but Subaru's lineup is full of them, and the company is made all the better because of their unusual engine layout. 

More importantly, there's something endearing about the way the Impreza rides and handles. Subaru has set the car up to lope along casually, and while aggression has been spared for the WRX and STi versions of this car, this all-but-basic Impreza Touring justifies its status as a great foundation for high-performance cars. 
2014 Subaru Impreza hatchback Touring rear
Shoved along with a purposeful prod of the throttle pedal, the Impreza doesn't isolate its chassis' work from its driver, thereby allowing some thoughts to filter through. The steering has life, a real rarity now that we're at the dawn of an age of autonomous steering. 

This Impreza hatchback isn't about to play along with Fiesta STs on an autocross circuit. But if you're looking for a conventional small car that won't bore you to death when the driving should truly get interesting, the Impreza's allotment of interactivity causes it to stand out from much of the pack. 
GCBC Instituted ISTBTP, AKA Interior Storage Tennis Ball Test Protocol, In Early 2014.
The Subaru Impreza's ISTBTP Results Are In The Spec Chart Above. 
Conventional? The Impreza most certainly isn't. Of course, the pack of better-selling small cars provides superior interiors and, more often than not, greater style. Yet as it has in the past and likely will in the future, the 2014 Subaru Impreza meets specific demands for an all-wheel-drive hatchback head-on. In so doing, the Impreza, for the right buyer, negates the pack.

RECOMMENDED READING
Historical Monthly & Yearly Subaru Impreza Sales Figures
2014 Honda Civic Coupe EX Driven Review
2014 Hyundai Elantra Limited Driven Review
2014 Chevrolet Cruze Diesel Driven Review
2014 Kia Forte SX Driven Review
2013 Volkswagen Golf TDI Wolfsburg Driven Review

9 comments:

  1. Finally, more consumers are realizing that small sedans are useless when you go shopping or to a garage sale and cannot fit that coffee table/chair/bulky whatever in the back! I snicker whenever I see befuddled people in store parking lots as I walk toward my hatchback and they are trying to figure out what to do with their purchase that won't fit.

    ReplyDelete
  2. This is a niche product. Who needs AWD in such a car anyway?

    And why do Subaru's have that slow crank?

    ReplyDelete
  3. Snow, those who drive on hills, or roads that don't get plowed.
    Well, also those that don't want to drive a bigger Jeep.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Where possible, buy the manual. A better car in all respects and you have that $1300 plus a lot of taxes, to spend on other stuff, like gas.

    ReplyDelete
  5. I guess one would need to drive in a snowstorm or on a rain flooded highway or be forced onto the shoulder by a 'distracted driver' or one of the multitude of other things we regularly experience on Canadian highways, in order to actually need AWD.

    ReplyDelete
  6. My point is that before Subaru used to give you AWD without compromising the other aspect of the car such as the interior, exterior etc quality. Frameless windows, smooth surfaces, thickly molded plastics, thick exterior sheet metal etc.
    Now they're built to a price, they're making too much compromises to give you AWD.

    Just compare the last generation Legacy to the currernt one.

    Last gen;

    ReplyDelete
  7. Jahidur Rahman4/28/2014 9:18 am

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    ReplyDelete
  8. The car has really cool body and great features, i was not aware of this car before thanks for sharing about this interesting car it is really fabulous.
    Top 10 Hatchback Cars in India

    ReplyDelete
  9. The manual transmission is hard to find.

    ReplyDelete

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