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2015 Subaru Impreza 2.0i Limited 4-Dr with Tech Review

The thing about split personalities is that while Mr. Hyde gets to have all the fun, making mayhem and running amok, good ‘ol Dr. Jekyll has to quietly go about doing the groceries, feeding the cat and making sure the rent gets paid on time.

  • 2015 Subaru Impreza 4-Dr Limited
HIGHLIGHTS
ENGINE
2.0L H-4 AWD
POWER
148hp @ 6,200RPM
CURB WEIGHT
1,370 kg
TORQUE
145 lb.-ft. @ 4,200RPM
FUEL TANK CAPACITY
55.0L
ECONOMY
7.0L/100 km
BASE PRICE
$19995
PRICE AS TESTED
$29,395

THE PROS & CONS

    • What’s Best: With a starting price of $19,995, the Subaru Impreza offers affordable entry into the all-weather security of an all-wheel-drive compact. And the wide range of trim choices fit any need or budget, up to the all-inclusive Limited Package with Technology Option tested here.
    • What’s Worst: Unassuming exterior design that just can’t compete style-wise with other compact car offerings in the segment.
    • What’s Interesting: Although not as powerful as its WRX/STI siblings, the Impreza impresses with one of the smoothest rides in the segment. Superior ride and handling complement the all-weather, all-road abilities of Subaru’s Symmetrical All-Wheel-Drive system.

The thing about split personalities is that while Mr. Hyde gets to have all the fun, making mayhem and running amok, good ‘ol Dr. Jekyll has to quietly go about doing the groceries, feeding the cat and making sure the rent gets paid on time.

And so it also goes with the bipolar lineups of some car companies.

Take Subaru, for instance.

The high horsepower halo cars – the WRX and STI – get all the glory, the rally car fan following and all of the press hype, while the Impreza compacts that they are based on plod steadily along, quietly unassuming, selling a more subtle appeal that was made for the masses.

But it’s the Impreza that brings in the bulk of sales, supporting the company bottom line, even allowing for the very existence of their halo car siblings.

In some ways, those standard-issue Subarus have become Japanese Volvos, offering security of performance and safety over flash and dazzle designs.

2015 Subaru Impreza on the road

It’s function over form; substance instead of style.

The Subaru Impreza did, however, undergo a minor cosmetic and content makeover for a little extra pizzazz in 2015.

This was a normal mid-cycle revision to freshen up the fourth generation model before its eventual replacement in a year or two. The changes include fuel economy improvements, reduced emissions, new styling tweaks inside and out, and a longer list of standard and available features and technologies.

Even with those additions, as my colleague Jim Robinson noted at the 2015 model year launch, the Impreza remains the lowest-priced all-wheel-drive entry vehicle in Canada, starting at just $19,995.

There are two models to choose from, a four-door sedan and five-door hatchback ($900 more), along with plenty of other choices to expand upon as you move up from the base model through Touring, Sport and Limited Packages, topping out in the $30K range.

RELATED: 2015 Subaru Impreza Review

The Impreza comes standard with a five-speed manual or is available with a CVT automatic ($1,300).

More importantly, like our Dr.Jekyll/Mr.Hyde example, it shares some of the same performance bones with its WRX/STI alter ego siblings, namely, the same sturdy chassis and suspension beginnings, the horizontally-opposed boxer engine with its low-centre-of-gravity and Subaru’s trademark Symmetrical All-Wheel-Drive system.

2015 Subaru Impreza engine

New for 2015, the Subaru Impreza exterior adds a new chrome grille, new fog lights, new WRX-style side mirrors and a new rear bumper.

A now standard lip spoiler was probably included to jolt the ho-hum factor of Impreza’s fairly anonymous design. And there are new alloy wheels for some of the upscale trim levels.

Inside, Subaru’s infotainment suite of technologies includes a new 6.2-inch multi-function touch screen, STARLINK connectivity with Aha smartphone integration, Bluetooth hands-free system and all the usual audio availabilities. Subaru has made backup cameras universal throughout the lineup, a good move ahead of a tide of inevitability throughout the industry.

Although the interior offers little in the way of novelty for a new audience, my leather-appointed Limited trim was handsome enough and the Impreza’s doors open to a comfortable cabin with surprising room in the backseat and plenty of useable trunk space.

2015 Subaru Impreza interior

Under the hood, the one-choice 2.0-litre four-cylinder boxer engine makes 148 hp and 145 lb/ft of torque. No exactly the kind of rally-bred oomph rating of its WRX/STI siblings, but the motor makes enough muscle to get the job done.

The 2.0-litre has also been rated as a PZEV engine with zero evaporative emissions and a bump up in fuel efficiency, rated at 8.5/6.4L/100km (city/hwy). My real world results worked out to 8.3L/100km (comb), still excellent for an all-wheel-drive configuration.

RELATED: The 2015 Subaru Outback lives up to its name

Tested here, we have a 2015 Subaru Impreza four-door sedan in a subtle shade of Crystal Black Silica and in Limited Package trim level with the CVT tranny and a Technology option.

The Limited Package includes all the expected bells and whistles – 17-inch high luster alloy wheels, side mirrors with integrated LED signals, interior leather with silver stitching, dual-zone automatic climate, chrome trim touches, a seven-inch high resolution capacitive touch screen with navigation instead of the 6.2-inch version and numerous other infotainment upgrades.

2015 Subaru Impreza leather seats

And the Technology Option ($1,200) adds a proximity key with push-button start, steering-responsive fog lights and Subaru’s EyeSight system – a stereo camera system aimed forward from either side of the rear view mirror, monitoring for pre-collision braking and brake assist, pre-collision throttle management, adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning, lane sway warning and lead vehicle start alert. It’s a very comprehensive package for its segment.

Some industry watchers have wondered about the possible “Toyotification” of Subaru and the potential loss of the company’s individual sense of mission and philosophy, especially as it tries to become more mainstream to appeal to a wider audience.

But I can only hope that they are wrong and that the WRX concept that I kept coming back to at this spring’s New York Auto Show will offer at least a little trickle-down styling for the next fifth generation Impreza, a new model that will probably be revealed next year as a 2017 model.

There’s talk of new styles, new engines with direct injection and cylinder deactivation, even a possible plug-in hybrid.

For today’s driving needs though, the 2015 Subaru Impreza offers reliability, steering and handling traits superior to almost any vehicle in the segment, a wide range of trim and configurative choices to fit any customer need and, as tested here, a full suite of leading edge technologies that bolster the solid performance of this still unique all-wheel-drive entry in the compact car market.

2015 Subaru Impreza rear

2015 Subaru Impreza 2.0i Limited with Technology 4-Dr Sedan at a glance

BODY STYLE: Compact four-door sedan
DRIVE METHOD: Symmetrical full-time all-wheel-drive.
ENGINE: 2.0-litre DOHC 16-valve four-cylinder boxer (148 hp, 145 lb/ft), five-speed manual or CVT transmission (as tested)
FUEL ECONOMY: CVT 8.5/6.4L/100 km (city/hwy); As tested 8.3L/100km (comb)
CARGO: 340 litres
PRICE: Base, $19,995; as tested Limited Package with Technology Option, $29,395.

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