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Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Review: 2017 Subaru Impreza 2.0i-S

Subaru is one of the most stubborn of carmakers. Whereas others would try dabbling in a particular technology only to abandon it altogether when all seems lost, Subaru would more or less tread the same path for years, if not decades. This explains the trademark ingredients that now make a Subaru, a Subaru: the horizontally-opposed Boxer engine and Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive. These key technologies have been carefully tweaked, honed, and polished to where they are today. Once in a while though, Subaru takes a leap of faith and makes something more revolutionary than evolutionary. The 2017 Impreza is one such example and one that comes with its own set of problems.

Judging from exterior appearances alone, you don’t know where all that revolutionary talk went. When it comes to design, Subaru comes in only two flavors: plain and nondescript or wild and comical. And just like previous non-WRX Imprezas, the 2017 Impreza 2.0i-S falls under the former. It’s less of an oddball now compared to previous Imprezas, but it’s not going to knock your socks off. Designers have stretched the width, lowered the height and even proportioned it better, but remove the trademark Subaru cues like the hawk-eye headlights, hexagonal shield grille, and boomerang-shaped taillights and it can pass for whatever compact sedan you can think off.

Now, all that worry about the Impreza being boring and bland disappears the moment you step inside. In typical Subaru fashion, ingress and egress is unrivaled. Getting in and out is easy-peasy thanks to the square-cut door frames and wide opening doors. The formal roofline, coupled with the large expanse of glass, also contributes to the best all-around visibility among compact cars. Even more surprising is that this visibility comes with a low, sports-car like seating position. It feels sportier than even the WRX STI. No kidding. It goes without saying though that the seats themselves don’t offer the same corner hugging support of racing bucket seats, but they’re nonetheless supportive and comfy even after hours on end. The rear occupants are treated just as well too, though the thick center tunnel does rob some usable knee room at the back. Nonetheless, fitting five adults won’t pose a problem.

The 2017 Impreza’s revolutionary approach continues to the cabin execution itself. Known commonly as Subaru’s Achilles’ heel, this new cockpit is properly done. For once, it doesn’t feel like it was designed at the last minute or put together at the cheapest possible cost. Poke around and everything simply feels top-notch. The plastics are nicely textured and soft to the touch; the switchgear all operate with a nice, crisp feel; and even the spattering of piano black trim, aluminum, and carbon fiber all do their bit to present an upmarket look and feel. Even the faux stitching on the dashboard—a look too common nowadays—is executed excellently. Combine that with ergonomics done right and the Impreza’s got one of the best driving environments in this price range.

Fitting all of these niceties though comes at a price and that’s found in the woeful infotainment system which fails the Impreza big time. In theory, Subaru’s Starlink system is superb and future-proof. Compared to previous Subaru systems which are archaic, this 8-inch touchscreen system comes with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto right out of the box. And get this: it can even link with your smartphone wirelessly via Bluetooth or Near Field Communication (NFC). In reality though, it’s one bug-filled, laggy system that, in this case, refused to work completely. During this particular test drive, the screen froze and the volume stuck midway. No amount of battery yanking or resetting could save this Impreza from being a mobile sound machine playing Bruno Mars and The Chainsmokers. In the end, the head unit was unplugged for sanity’s sake.

While the interior is the most visible upgrade to the Impreza experience, the best bit is, pardon the pun, the impressive road manners. Subaru is proudest with this all-new platform that rolled out starting with the all-new Impreza. Suffice to say, it has delivered in every front: handling, comfort, agility, ride—they are not only better than the outgoing model; they are at the top of the game.

Imprezas have always shined with its balanced on-road experience and the 2017 continues that streak. It has a pliant ride, effortlessly gliding through anything Manila can dish out be it undulating ruts, concrete ribs, or the occasional pothole. It goes through any obstacle with nary a rattle or squeak in a cabin, a testament to its solid build quality and a welcome break from the age-old saying of, “If it rattles, it must be a Subaru.” Apart from mitigating unwanted shocks successfully, the Impreza’s also mighty hushed too with minimal wind, tire, and road noise permeating the cabin even at high speed. The stiffer sub-frame and independent suspension on all four corners also means it’s one of the best handling in its class. It’s still no sports car (or hot hatch for that matter), but it’s nonetheless light on its tires. It’s worth noting though that the electric power steering feels hefty in a WRX sort of way. And though more deliberate movements to the tiller are required to impart a sense of urgency, once you get into the groove, it’s extremely nimble with quick turn-ins and flat cornering.

The 2017 Impreza though could really use more power. The driving experience is dulled by its powertrain. While some of its chief rivals have shifted to a smaller displacement turbo, the Impreza continues with a normally-aspirated 2.0-liter motor. Now featuring direct injection technology, the FB20 does crank out a bit more power and torque, but nowhere near the levels that could be considered remotely exciting. Ninety-five percent of the time, it feels perfectly suited to the task with good low-end pull and smooth, quiet operation. The CVT also reacts quickly enough as you scoot from intersection to intersection. Dip the throttle a bit more and the transmission even emulates a traditional automatic with distinct steps. The next four percent, times when you’re trying to summon the Boxer’s “true power”, you’re greeted with nothing but a continuous whine. You’ll eventually eke out some pace, but it’ll take a while. The last one percent is a case of a Check Engine Light, a stalled car, and a quick reaction to pull the car over to the side to restart it. Thankfully it worked and the problem didn’t appear again.

There’s no denying that there’s great potential in the 2017 Impreza and the platform it’s built atop of, but it’s also clear that dabbling in the latest technology hasn’t really gone too smoothly for Subaru. Motor Image Pilipinas, Subaru’s distributor in the country, knows the Impreza will never sell in great numbers and so they’ve come up with just one variant: the 2.0i-S. Yet, it comes fully loaded with all the bells and whistles. Outside, it has steering responsive headlights, power folding side mirrors, and two-tone 17-inch alloy wheels. Inside, it has a power adjustable driver’s seat, leather upholstery, passive keyless entry with push-button start/stop, and a dual zone climate control. Safety? 7 airbags, ABS with EBD, stability control, torque vectoring control, blind spot monitoring, auto dimming rear view mirror, and even a rear parking camera with cross traffic alert. Unfortunately, it also comes with a frozen infotainment system and a Check Engine Light, two things which shouldn’t come standard with any new car on sale in 2017. These issues might just be limited to this particular unit, but coming from a long-time Subaru owner, it feels like one big black eye to the brand’s otherwise unblemished record.

2017 Subaru Impreza 2.0i-S
Ownership 2017 Subaru Impreza 2.0i-S
Year Introduced 2017
Vehicle Classification Compact Car
The Basics
Body Type 4-door Sedan
Seating 5
Engine / Drive F/AWD
Under the Hood
Displacement (liters) 2.0
Aspiration Normally Aspirated
Fuel Delivery Direct Injection
Layout / # of Cylinders F4
BHP @ rpm 156 @ 6,000
Nm @ rpm 196 @ 4,000
Fuel / Min. Octane Gasoline / 95~
Transmission CVT
Cruise Control Yes
Fuel Economy @ Ave. Speed 6.84 km/L @ 13 km/h
Dimensions and Weights
Length (mm) 4,625
Width (mm) 1,775
Height (mm) 1,480
Wheelbase (mm) 2,670
Curb Weight (kg) 1,376
Suspension and Tires
Front Suspension Independent, MacPherson Strut
Rear Suspension Independent, Double Wishbone
Front Brakes Vented Disc
Rear Brakes Vented Disc
Tires Bridgestone Turanza T001 205/50 R 17 V (f & r)
Wheels Alloy
Safety Features
Airbags 7
Anti-Lock Brakes (ABS) Yes, with EBD
Traction / Stability Control Yes
Parking Sensors No, Rear with Camera and Cross Traffic Alert
Other Safety Features Hill Hold Assist
Blind-spot Detection
Exterior Features
Headlights LED, Adaptive, High-Beam Assist
Fog Lamps Yes, Front and Rear
Auto Lights Yes
Rain-sensing Wipers Yes
Interior Features
Steering Wheel Adjust Tilt/Telescopic
Steering Wheel Material Leather
Seating Adjustment Electric (driver)
Seating Surface Leather
Folding Rear Seat Yes, 60/40
On-Board Computer Yes
Convenience Features
Power Steering Yes
Power Door Locks Yes
Power Windows Yes
Power Mirrors Yes, with Fold
Climate Control Yes, Dual
Audio System Stereo
USB x 2
Apple CarPlay
Android Auto
# of Speakers 6
Steering Controls Yes


  1. If you're into entertainment showcase or pretty cars, Subaru is not for you. But if you drive for fun, you won't regret it.

    1. Not when you have the stereo at full blast and you can't do anything about it.

    2. They really know it won't sell in great number - well, they handed you a shitty unit.

  2. This or the Honda Civic RS Turbo?

    1. cant beat the AWD man,

    2. The Impreza does have the surefootedness and grip of an AWD car but the Civic RS is quicker/faster with its more potent 1.5L turbo engine (more power/torque vs the Impreza) and a lighter chassis.

      The Impreza is more of a comfortable cruiser with better grip/handling than the usual compact. If you want a quicker and faster Impreza, get the WRX.

    3. If im gonna buy a Subaru, i'll pick a turbocharged one. The heavy than usual curb weight due to the AWD, thicker chassis and differential loss will make it somewhat anemic if pitted against the Civic.

    4. It would have nice if Subaru used the Levorg's 1.6L turbo engine (FB16DIT) on the Impreza instead of the FB20.

  3. Wow that's a nice interior! Minimal to almost zero blind spot. That electronics bug is a let down though. They have to rectify it even before the MMC or else sales might suffer, globally speaking.

    The most outstanding safety features in its class, even better now with Subaru Global Platform and the Eyesight. This is the Volvo of the non-luxury market, i was even surprised to know that Subaru's has a latch underneath the door so you can push it outwards in case of a major side collision.

    That Subaru Global Platform technology will give you peace of mind to ferry the most important cargo of your life.

  4. Eyesight is not available for the PH release

    1. That's a bummer. This could've been a solid competitor of the Civic and Mazda 3.

      I wonder if they'll do the same with the all new XV and Forester?

    2. I noticed that they're using Bridgestone Turanza tires, Turanza's are known to have a tendecy to get "bukol" if you ran over a big pothole.

      They could've used the same Dunlop Sportmaxx tires similar to the ones in the WRX and WRX STi.

  5. Looks as bland as the previous generation altis

  6. Sir Uly, how'd you find the ground clearance in phil roads? i remember articles from the jap release saying that there were worries about it being lower than the prev gen.

    1. Ground clearance is 130 mm. But didn't have any problem with driveways and stuff. My 2008 Impreza scrapes more maybe because of the lower approach angle.

    2. well that's some good news... though given our rains and floods - never mind "off-road" roads - a coming-soon xv on the new platform will be the go-to choice. too bad subaru's retiring its boxer-6 in the next-gen legacy/outback, life and lemons...

  7. Sir uly, honda civic E or this Subaru? Thanks! :)

  8. They should just put the engine of the Levorg (1.6T) here to match up with the Civic or Focus.


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