- Spacious interior
- Great for wintry conditions
- Decent ride comfort
- Dated interior
- High running costs
- Dull driving experience
Family hatchback that falls short of the class leaders.
The Subaru Impreza brand is perhaps best known on these shores for their rally-inspired STI models. But the Impreza that’s currently on sale is actually a practical family hatchback. The four-cylinder boxer engine still rumbles on idle, but that’s the only part of the Impreza that remotely feels sporty. The Impreza’s styling is numb, whilst the interior lacks the quality we expect nowadays. It won’t be cheap to run either, and it’s far from fun to drive. The main selling point for the Impreza is its four wheel drive system. It’s the only car in the family hatchback class to have this. But whilst it’s useful for winter weather, it’s not enough to make up for the Impreza’s deficiencies. Subaru’s reliability record is excellent however.
Spacious and practical, let down by poor quality.
Subaru is a brand that is known for focusing on toughness and practicality above style. The Impreza is no different. There’s plenty of space for passengers and luggage, but the interior feels very dated. On the other hand, you will get plenty of kit for your money.
The dashboard design in the Impreza feels very old-fashioned. It looks like it’s been lifted straight from the 1990s. Compared to a Peugeot 308 it really falls short of the mark. Despite this, the controls are logically laid out, and easy to use, which will be attractive to buyers who don’t like the modern touchscreen control systems. Material quality is poor however. Forget the soft-touch materials you get in a Volkswagen Golf. The Impreza uses hard, scratchy plastics that ultimately lack finesse. Despite this, build quality is excellent, so though the cabin lacks class, it should make up for it with longevity.
Practicality is very important to buyers of family hatchbacks. The Subaru Impreza is reasonably impressive in this regard. The rear seats offer plenty of leg, and headroom, even for adult passengers. Meanwhile, the 380 litre boot capacity is pretty standard for the class, offering exactly the same space as a Volkswagen Golf. There’s more than enough room for the big family shop, and a small foldable buggy.
One of the main plus points of the Impreza is the amount of kit you get as standard. There’s only one trim level, so all models come with heated part-leather front seats, aircon, and electric windows. Though if you want a sat-nav, or a DAB radio, you won’t be able to get one, even as an optional extra.
All in all the inside of the Impreza is a bit of a disappointment. There’s no doubting its practicality and rugged build quality, but it really does feel dated in the cabin. And whilst equipment levels are generous, you’ll have to do without basics like a DAB radio.
Disappointingly dull to drive.
With all of Subaru’s rallying heritage, you might assume that the Impreza would be a fun car to drive. Unfortunately, this isn’t the case. The steering lacks feel and responsiveness, so it’s not the best car to take on a winding country road at the weekend. There is plenty of grip, thanks to the four wheel drive system, which will come in handy when it’s raining, or there’s ice on the roads. Body roll is apparent when you throw the Impreza into a corner however, making it an unsettled ride, especially when at speed.
Suspension and Chassis
Comfort levels are pretty decent however, though only once you’re out of town. In the city centre the Impreza bounces across the potholes and loose road surfaces like Ed Balls on a dancefloor. At speed this does improve, but it’s nowhere near as relaxing as a Skoda Octavia. Refinement is also pretty disappointing. On the motorway there’s a fair bit of road and wind noise, making the Impreza a sub-par long distance cruiser.
Gearbox options in the Impreza come in two guises. The standard option is a five speed manual transmission. It’s actually pretty rewarding to use, with a short shift, and a nice positive action. The lack of sixth gear will soon get annoying if you do a lot of motorway miles however. An optional Lineartronic CVT automatic is also available. It reduces emissions, but is very laboured under acceleration, revving the engine hard, which inevitably makes for a noisy driving experience.
Petrol engine is less than impressive.
When it comes to deciding how you want to power your Impreza, you’ve only got one option. The 1.6 litre petrol engine is the only one that Subaru offers. It’s hugely disappointing that there’s no diesel engine, especially as the petrol is pretty expensive to run.
When you see the name Impreza, you might think of blisteringly quick rally cars. Don’t expect that sort of speed from the current Impreza. The 1.6 litre petrol engine produces just 112bhp and 111lb/ft of torque. It’ll take some time to get it up to speed as well, with a 0-62mph time of 12.3 seconds. The Impreza’s engine is quite a bit slower than you’d expect from a modern family hatchback. You’ll have to rev it hard to make the most of the power it does have as well.
Eco-friendly buyers will be pretty shocked when they see the figures of the Impreza’s petrol engine. Ten years ago, emissions of 140g/km of CO2 would have been reasonable. But for a family hatchback, that’s simply unacceptable today. You’ll have to specify the CVT auto to get these figures as well. For money-savers, the Impreza won’t make a great deal of sense. It comes with a £130 yearly road tax bill, and only achieves a maximum of 46.3mpg. Figures that are some way short of today’s class-leading family hatchbacks.
Overall the engine in the Impreza will please few buyers. If you enjoy the grunts of a boxer engine, you may enjoy the Impreza on idle. But you won’t like its lack of power and pace. And you’ll definitely not enjoy how much it costs to run day-to-day.
Latest model not yet tested by NCAP
It’s hard to know just how safe the Impreza is, as it’s not yet been tested by NCAP. It’s poor sales figures probably means it won’t get tested anytime soon either. For it to match its rivals, the Impreza would have to improve on the old models 4-star results, to match the class standard of five stars. You will however get seven airbags as standard, as well as hill start assist, and electronic stability control. The added safety of a four wheel drive system will mean that the Impreza will be safer than rivals in poor wintry conditions however.
Decent value for money, if you avoid the cost of new-car depreciation.
The Subaru Impreza is by no means a great value car to buy from new. Though it does come with more equipment than a lot of its rivals, it’s lacking in too many areas to be a genuine contender in this class. One positive of this is that the Impreza suffers heavily from first year depreciation. So if you want a nearly-new hatchback at a bargain price, the Impreza is certainly an option to consider. Bear in mind that running costs are high though, no matter which model you go for.
Insurance groups for the Impreza are the same no matter if you go for the manual, or automatic model. Both sit in group 14. It’s not especially cheap for a family hatchback, but it’s hardly earth-shatteringly expensive either.
Depreciation is a massive factor to consider with the Impreza, but only if you choose to buy from new. With first year depreciation as high as 40%, you’re better off opting for an inspected used equivalent.
The Subaru Impreza is a family hatchback that falls short in many areas. Its interior is dull, and dated, whilst it’s equally dreary once you’re behind the wheel. It’s comfortable enough at speed however, though it’s not the most refined family hatchback. Spec levels are good, whilst practicality is pretty impressive. And although the Impreza is more expensive to run than a lot of its rivals, buying a used Impreza can save you plenty of money at the purchase point, as the Impreza depreciates heavily over the first couple of years.
Buying a used Subaru Impreza online with Carspring
If you’re after a used Subaru Impreza for sale, it can all feel like a bit of an ordeal. What, with long days spent around gigantic car supermarkets, or time spent trawling through classified websites, looking for that ideal used Impreza. Carspring makes it simple. Buy your next used Subaru Impreza online with the touch of a button. Simply decide on the model you want and choose how you want to pay.
Looking to finance your used Subaru? Not a problem, we work with our carefully selected finance partners to ensure that, if you’re paying monthly for your used Subaru Impreza, you know you’re getting the best rates. What’s more, with any Carspring used Impreza, you also get our 14-day money-back guarantee and 6 months’ free Warranty. Plus, you don’t have to leave your home. We’ll deliver your used Subaru to you at a time and place of your choice.
*This is an approximate figure based on the range of the car’s list price and the AA’s average 1st-year depreciation cost of 40%.