– During a recent product presentation for the all-new 2024 Subaru Impreza, one slide really captured the current state of affairs for passenger cars these days.
On it, the Impreza’s key competitors in the compact car segment were arranged to include the following: Honda Civic
, and Toyota Corolla
A decade ago, a Subaru PR person would have had to shrink competitor photos to thumbnails to fit them all on the same slide, but now they can be placed at a comfortable distance orbiting the Impreza in the shape of a perfect triangle.
Another slide showed the downward spiral of compact car sales more starkly, with a line graph showing their volume in Canada shrinking by more than half since 2018, from almost 350,000 units then to less than 150,000 last year.
With such a massive decline, cars like the Impreza are fortunate to be renewed for new generations. But despite falling demand, Subaru has brought the sixth generation of its eponymous small car to life, and with several big changes.
Most significant among these is the 2024 Impreza, which is on sale now across Canada, is available only as a five-door hatchback. The sedan has been retired globally, including in the U.S., where it was much more popular than it was in Canada. Here, the hatch accounted for more than 70 per cent of Impreza sales.
The second big news item is the entire Impreza line is now CVT only. The manual is no longer offered.
Lastly, like its redesigned 2024 Crosstrek crossover sibling, the Impreza can be had with a bigger 2.5-litre horizontally opposed Boxer four-cylinder engine that produces 182 horsepower and 178 lb-ft. of torque. Like the Crosstrek, the two upper Impreza trims receive the 2.5, while the bottom two get the 2.0-litre Boxer four-cylinder (145 hp / 152 lb-ft.). All-wheel drive is standard.
There are four main grades of Crosstrek: Convenience, Touring, RS, and Sport-tech. The latter is a Canadian-market exclusive. Incidentally, the RS pays homage to the 1998 Impreza 2.5RS which was a forerunner for the arrival of the WRX in North America.
Dimensionally, the new Impreza is essentially the same size as its predecessor. The Impreza remains spacious on the inside, however, with 1,586 litres of maximum cargo volume with the rear seatbacks folded down and 578 litres when they’re upright.
With that said, the new Impreza has a larger hexagonal grille with a triangular mesh structure, smaller LED headlights, a new hood with raised outer sections, sloping rear door glass, bulging front and rear fenders, new combination c-shaped LED taillights, and an aerodynamic rear bumper, among its styling updates.
Plenty of updating is afoot in the cabin, where the Impreza now looks a lot like the Crosstrek, boasting similar angular design elements, a larger centre console with improved storage and seat fabrics that are trim-specific, with unique coloured inserts and patterns. All are cloth, save for the Sport-tech, which are leather. Of note, seat rails are now bolted directly to the chassis to reduce seat swaying and improve comfort and ride quality.
The biggest change in terms of tech is the 11.6-inch multimedia display becoming standard on all trims beginning with Touring. Dual seven-inch screens are standard on Convenience. The system now supports wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. A wireless charge pad with 10-watt charging is available on RS up.
Our drive route wound east from Whistler through Pemberton to Lillooet and back, Subaru Canada brought a fleet of Pure Red RS testers for our group to sample.
The RS, which is the sportiest Impreza one can buy, not only in terms of appearance but driving character, handled the tight and twisty roads along the roughly four-hour 260-kilometre round trip from Whistler to Lillooet and back with ease.
While its suspension tuning isn’t any different from that of the rest of the Impreza lineup, the extra kick the 2.5 Boxer delivers combined with AWD and steering gear borrowed from the WRX makes the RS a reasonably fun car to carve canyon passes with.
The non-turbo 2.5 Boxer is responsive, delivering abundant power as engine revs are wound up quickly before steps in Subaru’s Lineartronic CVT are engaged to drop them back down to hustle the car along. Speaking of the CVT, which I still don’t love, Subaru has improved 80 per cent of its parts for reduced vibration and better durability. I can’t say I noticed a huge difference between this one and CVTs I’ve experienced in other Subarus, but this didn’t groan and wasn’t too rubber-banding for most of the drive.
Performance from the dual-pinion steering is impressive, as it helped the RS track effectively through a variety of corners, including switchbacks, decreasing radius and even a couple of hairpins.
The only thing that would have made the experience any better is a manual transmission, which doesn’t exist for the same reason there are few competitors left in the Impreza’s segment: people don’t buy them.
Bottom line, you can’t have it all. But with the Impreza you can have a lot: a fun-to-drive car at a reasonable price, with a lot of standard kit and good looks to boot. Like a car from another time.
2024 Subaru Impreza pricing
Convenience – $26,795
Touring – $29,995
RS – $31,795
Sport tech – $34,795
2024 Subaru Impreza
Front-engine, all-wheel drive, CVT
2.0-litre horizontally opposed 4-cylinder (152 hp / 145 lb-ft.)
(Regular 87) 8.8 / 6.9 L / 100 km (city/highway)
1,586 / 578 litres (56 / 20.4 cu ft.) (behind first/second row)
$26,795 / $31,795 base /as tested, excl. freight, taxes, and fees