Despite being a fairly sensible and (in certain trims) completely forgettable compact car, the Subaru Impreza has enjoyed a strong loyal following for decades in America. For the 2024 model year, Subaru has redesigned the Impreza with focus on the enthusiasts who’ll always drive these cars. Spoiler alert: It looks pretty great.
While Subaru is no stranger to controversial styling as of late, the new Impreza feels like a breath of fresh air as it doesn’t look ugly. In fact, it’s more than just inoffensive, it’s handsome. What a shock considering the hectares of plastic cladding affixed to the WRX. Subaru wanted the new Impreza to emphasize practicality, so it’ll only be available as a hatchback and feature built-in roof rack mounts like what you’d see on certain German cars.
Starting with a body structure that’s 10 percent stiffer than that of the outgoing car, Subaru has seemingly listened to enthusiasts with this new Impreza. The Sport trim actually features performance upgrades like retuned suspension, bigger brakes, multiple drive modes, and 18-inch wheels with lower-profile sidewalls. For those seeking more power, the legendary 2.5 RS nameplate is back, featuring an actual 2.5-liter engine with a reasonable 182 horsepower at the peak of the powerband and 178 lb.-ft. of torque at 3,000 rpm. It’s nice to see a big engine option on a standard Impreza, although it’s not entirely surprising considering that the Crosstrek also has that available 2.5-liter engine. Equally interesting yet not entirely surprising is that the new Impreza features a version of the steering rack from the WRX.
As for the base powertrain, it’s a two-liter flat-four making 152 horsepower and 145 lb.-ft. of torque. Perfectly adequate numbers for a compact car, if not necessarily thrilling one. Unfortunately, it seems like Subaru’s fumbled the bag a bit by only equipping the new Impreza with a CVT. While it likely plays nicely with advanced driver assistance systems, the general Impreza community is incredibly vocal about its desire for manual gearboxes, and I know several new Impreza buyers who actually voted with their wallets. While Sport and 2.5 RS models get paddle shifters and eight simulated ratios, that just doesn’t sound as enticing as rowing your own gears.
On the inside, the dashboard is virtually identical to the one on the WRX, with an optional 11.6-inch touchscreen dominating the experience. Considering how the WRX dashboard features a newfound focus on materials and ergonomics, it’s relieving to see it in cheaper models. Such toys like push-to-start, a Harman/Kardon stereo, and remote climate control activation are also on the menu, for drivers who want all the goodies. Mind you, base models don’t get the big screen, instead featuring an infotainment setup with two smaller displays.
Of course, Subaru is all about safety, so the new Impreza features the latest version of the marque’s Eyesight advanced driver assistance suite. In addition to an electric brake booster, Subaru claims that this new system features a wider field-of-view than the outgoing version, and revised software for earlier obstacle detection.
While the 2024 Subaru Impreza likely won’t satisfy the most die-hard Impreza drivers, it seems like it should be a competitive entry into the compact car market. However, now that the Impreza hatchback is on the new SGP platform, I can’t help but wonder why Subaru doesn’t seem interested in producing a WRX hatchback. With more power and a manual gearbox, this little hatchback could really rip. Pricing hasn’t yet been announced for the 2024 Impreza, so expect Subaru to publish some numbers closer to the car’s on-sale date in the spring.
Subaru is slowly following in the footsteps of Mitsubishi. A car company that once used to produce fun, desirable vehicles that appealed to various age levels and driving styles. Now, their cars have become boring and “average” in appearance. Gone are the days of the Legacy Spec B, and now the WRX STI is departing the US market in similar fashion as the once sought after 3000 GT VR4, Galant VR4, Eclipse GS-T and the Evolution Lancer. Mazda on the other hand with their Mazda 3 with AWD and turbo motor, they’re coming up in the world. It may not be a return of Mazdaspeed, but it’s close enough.
“Mind you, base models don’t get the big screen, instead featuring…”
“… an infotainment setup with two smaller displays.”
I love my ‘15 Impreza hatch. Was looking at a WRX at the time, but the vanilla 5-door version is a much better daily driver. That said, the CVT is the worst part. The new Impreza looks great but they missed the mark. Dumping the manual option altogether would be easier to swallow if there was a reliable, smooth-shifting automatic.
Having owned the prior gen I’m sure it’ll be fine as a basic commuter. I’m sure manual take rates were very low, which sucks but it’s the reality. I still don’t like the 2.5RS is an automatic, it should have stayed Sport or something else.
Lost me at ‘CVT’. I mean even if a manual isn’t in the cards, at least do a DSG or even a torque converter slush-box, why go for the worst option??
I had a rental Outback (or maybe Forrester?) and it was so slow I could barely accelerate on uphills, and besides the lack of a turbo I’m sure the CVT had a lot to do with that.
Subaru has really lost its way..
I rented a Forester a few years back to drive the family from Ohio to Maine and a ton of places in between. When I picked it up, I was entirely underwhelmed. Dog slow, very plain, they out Toyota’d Toyota on the boring front.
However, though it was dull to drive, it pulled down 32mpg on the highway with five people and a roof box stuffed full of crap and we weren’t going slow.
While I get that a CVT is painfully craptastic to drive, that’s kind of the whole point of a Subaru. At one point, they were funky, exciting and interesting. They made the Brat and the SVX, a manual, 4wd, dual range turbo hatchback with pneumatic suspension. That didn’t sell, so they went full on with average, boring, vanilla and sold a shit ton of these things. They’re going to keep on doing that because that’s what sells. Reliable, good in the snow, not terribly fast and good mileage–that’s what people want. Subaru is no longer what it once was. Be happy that they still have a WRX/STI, because if you want the old Subaru, that’s all that’s left, until they discontinue them due to low sales.
They don’t still have an STI. WRX only.
What the average person probably doesn’t realize is the cvt is just as much about packaging as it efficiency. Does it make sense, for a car company that makes less total vehicles than toyota sells Rav4s, to build a dct or anything else, which have incredibly high development costs, when a cvt allows for better efficiency, and cost less to build. If they don’t develop their own they can use someone else or an off the shelf one like ZF, but then you come to another whole issue, packaging, have you seen the size of these 7-10 speed transmissions? Now imagine finding a way to fit one behind a boxer engine and still incorporate Subarus symmetrical awd. It just isn’t going to happen. Unless you want your cheap average commuter car to be harder to work on than a German branded sport sedan. When people complain about this, I truly wish people could think about it from a business/engineering perspective.
I understand that the sandwich maker can more per sandwich if they use manure instead of cheese. After all, cheese costs money and crap is almost free. And they both come from a cow. But I’m still not going to eat a shit sandwich.
The 2.5RS was a WRC WRX in drag. I remember that it had a nice shifter with short throws.
This, while offering similar power level to the 2.5RS from 25 years ago, is absolutely not a worthy successor.
As a Subaru enthusaist and STi owner,
Fuck you Subaru.
“Subaru has seemingly listened to enthusiasts with this new Impreza.”