Subaru has never been afraid to “zig” when the competition “zags.” Many things about Subaru are, well, different. With their “boxer” horizontally-opposed engines, standard all-wheel drive, and lineup of station wagons, they don’t have a history of just copying the competition. This is why it was not such a shock when Subaru first announced their new and improved Impreza with a smaller and less powerful engine, while most manufacturers boast about having more power with each redesign.
That’s right. The new Impreza dropped from 170 to 148 hp for 2012. Fortunately, you may never miss those 22 ponies due to other changes that Subaru made. First, while not any smaller, the new car is lighter. Second, and more importantly, the Impreza finally ditched the old four-speed automatic transmission in favor of a CVT. The greater assortment of gear ratios helps both performance and fuel economy. (See our Impreza preview.)
Another place where Subaru has bucked current trends is actually making the new car better. Sounds strange, but as we’ve seen lately from Honda and Volkswagen, some new models don’t quite measure up to the outgoing designs in terms of fit and finish or handling. Compared to the 2011 Impreza, the 2012 has a nicer interior with soft-touch padding on the dashboard and doors. And while the new model is roomier and boasts better fuel economy, handling actually feels more responsive than the outgoing model. Plus, the excellent ride has been retained.
As for the turbocharged WRX and WRX STi, they will remain on the older platform for a few more years.
First impressions are positive, but we will have to wait until the Impreza goes on sale in November to purchase one for our test program. I have a feeling that is will be a favorite around our Connecticut test facility when the snow comes!