The real world slippery conditions gave us the perfect opportunity to put sedan and hatch versions through their paces and they passed with flying colours.
MONTEREY, Ca – Woke up on historic Cannery Row but it could have been Main Street, B.C., judging by the heavy rain that lashed against the window.
New model introductions are often staged in warmer climes when winter chills the Great White North. And the organizers couldn’t be faulted for assuming a fair weather launch after years of drought in the region!
However, for those visiting from the wet coast of Canada it was perfect. The freaky weather when combined with the route through the foothills of the Gabilan Mountains mimicked the conditions we so frequently encounter.
The road out of Monterey perhaps provided the greatest challenge: not to the Impreza but to the patience of yours truly! Seems the locals drive as ineptly in a torrential downpour as the city slickers in Vancouver do during a snowstorm that would not trouble the rest of Canada. I watched half a dozen slip, sliding their way down city roads that were baked and dusty the day before. Once out of town, the traffic disappeared and for long stretches of highway we were alone.
The good folks at Subaru set up a temporary autocross course for us to test the handling of the vehicle, now sitting on a new Global Platform. Needn’t have bothered! – The real world slippery conditions gave us the perfect opportunity to put sedan and hatch versions through their paces and they passed with flying colours.
Not surprisingly, the all-wheel drive $30,995 Sport Tech edition – a Canada-spec only – felt like it was on dry blacktop. It’s the only trim with torque vectoring, which cuts the power to an inside wheel in a corner and sends it to outside wheels thus improving stability.
That said, the parking lot course did allow us to observe others cruise effortlessly through the cone-defined course. The manufacturer boasts a reduction in body roll of 50 percent thanks to rear stabilizers now mounted directly on the chassis. Impressive.
It should be added that if there had been any weather induced collisions, survival of metal and man would have been greater than before. The 2017 edition’s body is 70 percent stiffer and 40 per cent stronger in a collision, designed to direct the impact away from the cabin. Subaru confidently expects a five-star rating across the board when it’s collision-tested this year new year.
The 2017 Impreza was billed as an all new edition but on the ground, engineers said it is only 95-per-cent new but let’s not be picky. The 2.0-litre Boxer-four engine, the lone powerplant available, is 80-per-cent new, matched to either a five-speed manual or a continuously variable transmission (CVT).
The power plant has been tinkered with to the point where it generates 152 horsepower – a measly four up on the last iteration. Acceleration is gradual process and, even when up to speed, you get lots of time to savour the experience of passing another car on the freeway. As my even more sarcastic drive partner pointed out, when passing you just have to plan ahead. Most people won’t care. Of course, the upside is good fuel economy – 8.3/6.4 litres/100 km.
The interior is much improved in materials but I’ll save further comment until later in the year when we do a local drive. The trims we experienced featured the very best stitched leather interior.
Cabin noise is dramatically reduced making normal conversation possible.
There’s more room for all too but again I’ll take a closer look when I have the chance to load up the car with passengers back home!
I should mention, as a tech fan, that the optional Technology package includes the amazing “Eyesight” safety suite, which employs a very advanced adaptive cruise control, lane-keep assist, high beam assist and now reverse automatic braking. The latter detects obstacles when backing up and brakes if the driver doesn’t. Like my old mom, and no doubt yours, it has eyes in the back of its head.