2015 Subaru Impreza at a glance
BODY STYLE: Compact four-door sedan, five-door hatchback
DRIVE METHOD: Symmetrical full-time all-wheel-drive.
ENGINES: 2.0-litre DOHC 16-valve four-cylinder ?Boxer? (148 hp, 145 lb/ft), five-speed manual or CVT transmission
FUEL ECONOMY: (Regular) CVT, 8.5/6.4/7.6L/100 km city/highway/combined, manual 9.5/7.0/8.4L/100 km
CARGO: four-door, 340 litres; five-door, behind back seat, 638 litres, folded, 1,485 litres
TOW RATING: Not recommended
PRICES: Base manual/CVT, $19,995/$21,295; Touring, $21,695/$22,995; Sport, $23,895/$25,195; Sport Technology, $26,395; Limited, $26,895/$28,195; Limited ES Technology, $29,395.
2015 Subaru Impreza offers AWD under $20K
KELOWNA B.C.- With a starting price of $19,995, the 2015 Subaru Impreza is the least expensive all-wheel-drive vehicle you can buy in Canada.
And with its Partial Zero-Emission Vehicle (PZEV) engine, it is also one of the greenest gasoline-powered vehicles available in this country.
The Impreza for 2015 has gone through a major makeover with many more features than the 2014 model, but Subaru has not increased the price.
Back in the mid 1990s, Subaru was trying to go head-to-head with the major Japanese players with both front- and all-wheel-drive cars.
But in 1994 they decided to drop front-drive and concentrate on AWD only. At that time, FWD accounted for 40 per cent of Subaru volume and many industry pundits questioned the decision to walk away from that kind of market share.
But time has proved Subaru was right with 2013 sales up 18.7 per cent for an all-time record.
Best known for the Outback and Forester, the Impreza is the entry-level model and always a solid seller.
The 2015 Impreza continues to be offered as a four-door sedan and five-door hatch.
There is one engine, Subaru?s proven 2.0-litre ?Boxer? flat four-cylinder with 148 hp and 145 lb/ft of torque.
Transmission choices are a standard five-speed manual or Subaru?s own Lineartronic continuously variable transmission (CVT).
The five-speed seems an odd choice given that the Impreza WRX and SRTI both have a six-speed manual, as does the BRZ sporty coupe.
The important thing to note is the engine that is now considered a Partial Zero-Emission Vehicle (PZEV) and registers fuel consumption of 8.5/6.4/7.6L/100 km city/highway/combined with the CVT transmission and 9.5/7.0/8.4L/100 km for the manual.
On the manual Impreza there is a viscous-coupling limited-slip centre differential that makes for stability with traction at all four wheels.
The CVT takes things up a notch because it can be pre-programmed for sportier response thanks to a continuously variable transfer clutch that actively controls torque distribution in response to driving conditions and wheel slippage.
Putting it as simply as possible, additional torque can be sent to the rear wheels either proactively or in response to slippage at the front wheels.
The system monitors aspects such as acceleration, steering angle and yaw rate sensors resulting in Active Torque Split AWD that combines traction and steering response when accelerating through turns and curves, especially when the road surface is slippery.
I drove both the manual and CVT versions up into the mountains north of Kelowna where the media launch was held and it was like driving two different cars.
With 145 lb/ft of torque, the Impreza manual had its work cut out for it going up into the mountains where the air gets thinner. What I found was I could never find the right gear for the winding road up to Big White. In third it revved too high and in fourth the engine lugged. I also missed the clutch pedal more than once.
In the CVT on the way back, the Impreza was a delight and that?s due to the CVT/AWD and the way it dealt with the rev range, while I dealt with the very winding route on the way back. It was a relief not to row through the gears.
For some reason, the CVT was also quieter on the highway and the steering seems more precise, although it is identical on both cars.
I realize the manual helps get the price below 20 grand, but it is worth paying the $1,300 more for the CVT plus the CVT gets better fuel mileage.
Something like 96.2 per cent of Subarus sold over the last 10 years are still on the road today, so it is quite likely that, in the long run, you?ll make up CVT?s premium in saved fuel dollars.
This is probably the best-equipped Impreza ever, with features including a standard rearview camera.
Subaru deserves credit for this move. There is much talk about rear cameras being government mandated in the future. Subaru could have waited but they went ahead instead.
Among other standard features for 2015 are a 6.2-inch infotainment system: AM/FM/CD/MP3/WMA audio system with high-resolution touchscreen display, Starlink smartphone integration (including Aha radio), four speakers, USB port/iPod control, auxiliary audio input, steering wheel-integrated controls, Bluetooth mobile phone connectivity with voice activation and Bluetooth streaming audio, and SiriusXM Satellite Radio.
Detail changes of the 2015 Impreza are too numerous to mention, but they range from exterior and interior enhancements to slimmer outside mirrors and aerodynamics like under body panels and much improved connectivity.
But one important change has been to Subaru?s proprietary Eyesight collision avoidance system.
Now in its third generation, it uses not one but two cameras for stereoscopic 3-D image processing that recognizes more objects, more quickly and with better precision. Longer and wider view allows the cameras to easily recognize objects in the distance as well as left and right, improving control in all speed ranges and reliability.
The use of colour plus a wider view enables the cameras to recognize more objects simultaneously than before such as red brake lights of the preceding vehicle or even the difference between a bicycle and a motorcycle.
And the standard backup camera is also better with a 160-degree horizontal angle of view compared to the 130-degree on the 2014 Impreza.
As mentioned prices, start at $19,995 for the base manual and $21,295 for the CVT. There are 10 trim levels with the high-end being the Limited Technology Package with everything that can be found in the Subaru parts bins at $29,395.
Solidly established as an AWD/safety/longevity leader, the 2015 Impreza is positioned to provide Canadians with AWD at a price they can afford.