First Look: 2012 Subaru Impreza

Considering several competitors boast of 40-plus-MPG figures for their C-segment offerings, 36 mpg may not sound like much. Still, the figure is impressive considering the Impreza remains an all-wheel-drive vehicle. In fact, the 2012 Impreza appears to surpass most compact all-wheel-drive competitors in terms of highway fuel economy, including both Suzuki's Kizashi and SX4, and the Mitsubishi Outlander Sport.

Fun To Drive - Or So We Hear
Fuel economy aside, Subaru's next priority was to make the 2012 Impreza a true driver's car. Engineers repeatedly mentioned that the Mazda 3 served as a benchmark, and that the new Impreza compares favorably to Mazda's beloved C-segment offering.

This could be mere marketing hyperbole, but we'll reserve judgment until we actually drive the car, but on paper, it does seem as if Subaru has done its homework. Improvements include a new front cradle subframe, revised struts and springs, new bushings and bushing clamps, reinforced strut towers, and extensive use of high-tensile steel, including a hot-pressed steel roof brace above the B-pillars. All this increases bending stiffness by 25 percent, which suggests the new Impreza may be much more tactile and tossable than its predecessor.

Performance junkies are likely interested in three letters: W, R, and X. Sadly, Subaru isn't discussing the rally-bred WRX or WRX STI at this stage. Officials acknowledge the performance models will ultimately shift to the new platform, but since a revamped WRX and WRX STI launched late last year as 2011 models, expect both nameplates to remain unchanged for another few years.

The Lineup
Until those cars debut, the 2012 Impreza is available in five different forms -- two of which are exclusive to the five-door wagon.

Base Impreza 2.0i sedan and wagons feature a long list of standard equipment (i.e. ABS, split-folding rear seat, AM/FM/CD/MP3 radio, power locks and windows, air conditioning, remote keyless entry, and seven airbags), although the list of available equipment is limited to a single option: the CVT.

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