Subaru Impreza 2021 review

The Impreza found fame in rallying before later evolving into a rather sensible hatchback

£16,276
Average price
Loading...
1
Out of 5

Pros

  • Four-wheel-drive included as standard
  • Loads of safety equipment
  • Roomy interior

Cons

  • Weak petrol engines
  • Expensive to run
  • No manual option
  • MPG

    42 - 42

  • CO2

    151 - 151 g/km

Model review

Few cars have changed their focus quite so much in their lifetime as the Subaru Impreza. This was a saloon – and an estate car – that first launched in 1992 and had its roots firmly in rallying and motorsport, with the likes of Colin McRae helping to give this car a legacy few could equal. 

Models badged as the WRX and STI were inspired by the rally racing models, and continue to have an exceptionally loyal following even today. But as the years went on, the Impreza evolved and by the time the third-generation arrived, it primarily switched to become a hatchback, with the estate model being axed. 

Come the fourth-generation version in 2011, there wasn’t even a whiff of a performance model available in the UK, with the Impreza reverting to a sensible range of petrol options – a far cry from what the range was like around a decade ago, 

Latest model

Come 2017, the fifth-generation Impreza arrived in showrooms, bringing a raft of improvements – not least when it came to safety. 

 Featuring a driver assistance system known as “Eyesight”, it had adaptive cruise control, lane departure assist and pre-collision throttle warning, all three of which were rarities in the family hatchback class. 

 It’s also based on new underpinnings called Subaru Global Platform, bringing with it a lower centre of gravity, which improves handling and stability. It continues to feature Boxer engines – as it always has – and features all-wheel-drive as standard, too. 

 But in 2021 the Impreza was axed from the UK, with dwindling sales not helping matters. Next to rivals such as the Ford Focus and Volkswagen Golf, it is nothing short of outclassed.

Value for money

Despite not being a very premium offering, the Impreza’s expensive safety technology and all-wheel-drive systems bump up the price, with the model costing £26,665 when new – far more than the equivalent model from Ford and Vauxhall, for example. 

 However, with a limited audience for a used Impreza, prices quickly depreciate to become more attractive. Though used examples are available for as little as £1,500, the latest generation examples are terrific value. We saw a two-year-old model with under 10,000 miles on the clock for as little as £12,000. If you wanted an equally specced Ford Focus of the same age, you’d be looking at spending a few thousand pounds more.

Looks and image

 It’s safe to say the latest Impreza is unlikely to appeal to the same audience from models in the old rallying days, but the fifth-generation is far from being an ugly car. With sleek lines, attractive LED lighting and large alloy wheels included across all versions, many will value the way it looks. It’s certainly lacking the street cred of others in this class, though. 

 The latest Impreza Subaru has definitely improved things inside, though, with a far more pleasant interior, which is much nicer to both look at and feel, with far more upmarket materials used throughout. It’s not quite so cutting-edge as many in this segment, though it’s certainly a welcome step forward. There are a good amount of displays, too, such as a large touchscreen, partly-digital instrument clusters and a further display on the dashboard that displays driving information.

 Behind the wheel it’s a really mixed bag. It actually drives really well, with nicely weighted steering, huge amounts of grip from the all-wheel-drive system and limited body roll. But it’s let down by lacklustre engines, which lack performance and don’t feel especially refined. There’s no manual transmission option on the latest car, either. 

Space and practicality

If you’re looking for a spacious family hatchback, the Impreza certainly ticks all the right boxes. There’s plenty of space for occupants, with a long wheelbase meaning even adults will be able to sit comfortably in the rear seats. 

The 385-litre boot can’t rival the best in this segment, but it’s very much on par with many in this class, and especially good given there’s the all-wheel-drive system that Subaru has had to work around, too.

It’s also a particularly safe option, thanks to a strong structure and generous list of driver assistance technology included. This helped to earn it a five-star Euro NCAP safety rating when it was tested in 2017. 

Engines

On the latest Impreza, there’s a choice of two naturally-aspirated petrol engines, which both feature a CVT automatic gearbox that delivers power to all four wheels. 

A 1.6-litre option kicks off the range, delivering a rather lacking 112bhp and 150Nm of torque. That equates to a sub-par 0-60mph time of 12.2 seconds and a top speed of 112mph. 

We’d recommend going for the more powerful 2.0-litre model, which kicks out a more reasonable 154bhp and 196Nm of torque. The 0-60mph time dips below 10 seconds, while flat out it could reach a top speed of 127mph. 

Running costs

Given there are just two all-wheel-drive petrol models to choose from, the Impreza is a thirsty car, and one of the least efficient models in this class. Subaru claims the models will return only around 35mpg, while CO2 emissions around 150g/km are nothing to shout home about, either. 

On the plus side, the latest Impreza is covered by a five-year, 100,000-mile warranty, meaning all latest-generation versions should be covered until at least 2022. 

Things to look out for

Given the latest Impreza’s rarity, not a huge amount is known about its reliability. That said, the Japanese firm generally has one of the best reputations for dependability of any manufacturer, and we reckon providing a model hasn’t been neglected, it should be rather trouble-free to live with.

Rivals

The Impreza is sadly surrounded by a range of better family hatchbacks, with far more well-rounded options including the Volkswagen Golf, Seat Leon, Ford Focus and Peugeot 308 to name but a few. 

Yet, when it comes to more ‘ordinary’ all-wheel-drive hatchbacks – e.g those that aren’t hot hatches – the choice is slimmer. You can get an all-wheel-drive version of Mazda’s 3 SkyActiv X, while the 1 Series and Audi A3 Sportback are too offered with the system.

Depreciation

Sadly the Impreza’s weak desirability factor means that models do depreciate quite heavily, especially compared to the price they cost. But with the model now discontinued, it should mean that most new models have lost all that initial value, and are now quite appealing used options. 

Which Impreza to pick

Cheapest to buy when new

1.6i SE 5dr Lineartronic

Most MPG

1.6i SE 5dr Lineartronic

Fastest model (0-60)

1.6i SE 5dr Lineartronic

Trims explained

Just one trim level has been offered on the latest Impreza – SE. Equipment highlights and pricing are as follows.

SE

Though there might just be one grade the Impreza comes in, it does come with plenty of kit included. It gets automatic LED headlights, 17-inch alloy wheels, heated front seats and auto-folding mirrors included. Elsewhere, there’s keyless entry and start, an electric parking brake, dual-zone climate control and a heated windscreen. An eight-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto is also included, along with a reversing camera. Then you also have a long list of safety equipment, including high beam assist, adaptive cruise control, autonomous emergency braking and lane keep assist.

From £12,000 (used)

Summary

  1. Started out in life as a rally-inspired saloon…
  2. Before becoming a sensible family hatchback down the line
  3. All-wheel-drive included as standard
  4. Good to drive…
  5. But let down by underwhelming engines
  6. Roomy interior
  7. Loads of safety equipment included
  8. Pleasant styling
  9. High running costs
  10. Overshadowed by more mainstream rivals, but an appealing used left-field option

Related news

View Subaru news archive
View all Motors.co.uk reviews