$18,000 to $21,000
As Japanese automakers struggled to keep top sales spots in the months leading up to the earthquake and tsunami, Subaru thrived, thanks to steady worldwide growth and higher-than-ever revenue in the first quarter of this year.
Now the niche automaker is hoping to continue the upward trend with an all-new 2012 Subaru Impreza, the first model to be introduced under the brand’s new marketing strategy and the guinea pig of sorts for Subaru’s next evolution of design language. Unveiled at the 2011 New York International Auto Show, the sedan and five-door wagon are all about efficiency, both in the cabin and through the tailpipe.
Kudos to Subaru for not falling victim to the bigger is better syndrome. While some manufacturers’ mainstay models swell with each new generation, Subaru designers focused instead on making better use of existing space, developing a more efficient powertrain and increasing bang for the buck. Despite dimensions identical to the last rendition, the 2012 Impreza’s wheelbase is lengthened by nearly an inch, which, combined with shorter overhangs, gives a more taut look and feel. Rear-seat passengers get about two inches more legroom.
Exterior styling on the 2012 Subaru Impreza, while not a radical departure from that of its predecessor, is marked by sharper character lines, more aggressive wheel arches and a new hexagonal grille, echoes of which will appear on other forthcoming Subaru models.
Under the hood, the 2012 Subaru Impreza uses a new four-cylinder, 2.0-liter boxer engine that makes 148 horsepower. The powerplant achieves a longer stroke and uses double overhead camshafts, as well as dual Active Valve Control System (DAVCS) for efficient performance and low emissions.
Transmission choices will be either a 5-speed manual or a new, lighter continuously variable transmission (CVT), which Subaru claims will provide smoother overall performance. Premium, Sport and Limited trim levels with the CVT get a 6-speed manual mode with paddle shifters on the steering wheel. Other drivetrain updates include a new electric power steering system.
In addition to Subaru’s standard all-wheel drive system, all 2012 Subaru Impreza models come standard with antilock brakes, electronic stability control and traction control. Standard safety features also include a new driver’s knee airbag.
Perhaps the 2012 Subaru’s Impreza’s most impressive claim is a 30-percent boost in fuel economy. The automaker says the Impreza is expected to achieve 27 mpg city and 36 mpg highway with the CVT. That’s compared to EPA estimates of 20 mpg city and 27 mpg highway for the 2011 model. The EPA has not yet rated the 2012 model. If the numbers hold true, that would make the 2012 Subaru Impreza the most fuel-efficient, all-wheel-drive passenger car available in the U.S. powered by a gasoline engine.
The 2012 Subaru Impreza sedan and five-door will go on sale this fall. Pricing is not expected to be announced until the car goes on sale, but we expect it to be comparable to the 2011 models. The 2011 Impreza starts at $17,495 plus a destination charge of $725. The top Impreza Premium model retails for $19,995, and many options are available. (All New Car Test Drive prices are Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Prices, which do not include destination charge and may change at any time without notice.)
Racer boys and performance buffs will have to sit tight, however, as Subaru execs are staying mum as to if and when new WRX and STI variants will be announced. For now, these souped-up models will stay on the previous generation’s platform.