The Impreza is all-new for 2012 while retaining Subaru's core technologies of Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive and a Boxer engine. There's a choice between two distinctive body configurations: a four-door sedan or a sporty five-door hatch, which is my personal favorite.
The all-new Impreza provides excellent fuel economy as the most fuel-efficient all-wheel drive car in America, delivering 36 miles per gallon. A number of features and systems help to enhance fuel economy, mostly achieved through improved aerodynamics; lightweight, all-new engine; Lineartronic Continuously Variable Transmission, and chassis improvements.
Starting at $18,245, the 2012 Impreza is offered in five models: base, Premium, Sport Premium, Limited and Sport Limited.
Subaru lowered the coefficient of drag for the new Impreza, optimizing the structures for lower drag, contributing to the sharper front and rear end appearance. Aerodynamic improvements include: smooth areas surrounding the fog lights; sharper edges on the rear bumpers; small tips at the back of 5-Door roof rails (included on the Sport model) help to smooth airflow; specially shaped mudguards under the front wheel wells; a large cover under the front end; and air flaps in front of all four wheels.
The all-new 2.0-liter engine delivers 148 horsepower, along with 145 lb.-ft. of torque, and is a more fuel efficient version of the 2.5-liter that powers the Subaru Forester. The CVT equipped Impreza comes with paddle shifters, which differs from the CVT found in Subaru's Legacy and Outback models. The Impreza CVT is lighter and more compact, with wide ratio gearing and advanced chain drive that improve operating efficiency by 10 percent over the previous four-speed automatic transmission. The Impreza's CVT enables the driver to select manually from six forward speeds with shifts that are immediate and crisp, providing a manual gearbox-type experience.
In terms of its exterior appearance, in addition to the new front and rear fascia treatments, the latest Impreza features a lower stance and more rakish overall profile, with a bolder, more athletic image. Thanks to redesigned door panels, the 2012 Impreza offers increased hip and shoulder room, and the rear seat passengers benefit from nearly 2 inches of extra legroom. Sedan trunk space and five-door cargo area are both increased, and the five-door now provides a completely flat load floor with the standard 65/35 split rear seatbacks folded.
Moving to the interior, richer appointments and details abound, including soft-touch materials for the dashboard, door trim and center console armrest. Larger door pockets can hold plastic drink bottles and large maps. Numerous compartments are located in and around the center console.
My test 2012 Subaru Impreza came in the five-door hatch configuration in Sport Premium trim, combining standard 17-inch alloy wheels and All-Weather Package with fog lights, roof rails, a unique seat fabric and rocker panel spoilers with a base price of $20,595.
The 2012 Subaru Impreza's new amenities, high-line trim levels, infotainment technology and higher-grade interior materials all blend to deliver a heightened driving experience. In fact, the new 2.0-liter feels even more responsive than the 2.5-liter engine that it replaces, thanks to reduced vehicle weight, especially when equipped with the new, second-generation Lineartronic CVT that provides the response of a manual gearbox.
Acceleration is admirable, handling characteristics are sporty and responsive, while ride quality is compliant and comfortable, with a most pleasant interior ambience.
Both the Impreza sedan and five-door models offer an impressive value for the price. My preference is the five-door model, as it displays a sportier wagon look, along with added versatility and functionality.
2012 SUBARU IMPREZA SPORT PREMIUM
VEHICLE TYPE_________________ 5-passenger AWD midsize hatchback
BASE PRICE___________________ $20,595 (as tested: $22,414)
ENGINE TYPE__________________ 16-valve boxer 4-cylinder w/SMPFI
HORSEPOWER (net)_____________ 148 at 6200 rpm
TORQUE (lb.-ft.)________________ 145 at 4200 rpm
OVERALL LENGTH_______________ 173.8 in.
TURNING CIRCLE (curb-to-curb)___ 34.8 ft.
CURB WEIGHT__________________ 3,075 lbs.
FUEL CAPACITY________________ 14.5 gal.
EPA MILEAGE RATING___________ 27 mpg city, 36 mpg highway