Sneak Preview: 2012 Subaru Impreza

Subaru set an American sales record in 2010, selling 263,820 vehicles, up almost 22 percent from the prior year. But you can't attribute any of the company's recent success to the Impreza; sales of Subaru's compact were actually down for 2010.

Among the current competition, the Impreza rightfully belongs at the back of the segment. It's a car defined by stodgy design and mediocre driving manners. The Impreza's single standout attribute -- all-wheel drive in a small car -- can even be construed as a handicap among frugal compact-car buyers. Newcomers like the Ford Focus and the Hyundai Elantra are setting the standard with highway fuel economy ratings of 40 mpg, while the most efficient Impreza achieves just 27 mpg. City fuel economy is equally dismal, and standard all-wheel drive means that the Impreza is priced higher than its front-wheel-drive competitors.

Fortunately, the Impreza is due for a complete redesign for 2012, which should address many of the current car's shortcomings. The new Impreza will debut at the New York auto show in April and go on sale later this year, but thanks to a concept car and the opportunity to sample Subaru's newest engine, we already have a good idea of what to expect.

A bolder, more handsome look
Building cars has never been about design at Subaru. The company that once advertised how ugly its vehicles were is an organization that is driven by resolute engineers with a deep respect for practicality. But the Impreza concept, first seen at the Los Angeles auto show last November, suggests something much more exciting than the homely Forester or Outback. It's not daring, but the design theme infuses the Impreza with a bold and aggressive character that feels much more connected to the STI. The concept boasts substantially more presence compared with the outgoing Impreza, thanks to taller body sides and a smaller greenhouse. The coupelike roofline, similar to that of the Volkswagen CC and the Mercedes-Benz CLS, creates a sleek profile while the narrow, angled headlights and large grille project a sporty attitude. If the details and proportions remain intact for production, the Impreza should easily be the best-looking Subaru in the showroom.

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jamoa
It looks nice and the specs look good (except the horsepower).Honestly though, why would anyone buy this over a Ford Focus or Chevy Cruz or other car in its category? Subaru really doesn't have a good reason to buy one of their vehicles anymore.
Jim.Kanna
Way better - much improved - what's so hard about designing a good looking car? Not much, says Subaru - not real crazy about the tail but it wouldn't stop me from buying one...
liveride
Subaru needs a 2 liter direct fuel injection turbo. Hyundai has one that gets 268hp/270torque and Fords Eco boost gets 250hp/250torque. Wake up Subaru. I love your AWD but you need a horizontally oppossed 2 liter Turbo (combined with a hybrid powertrain for another 10pmg)!...an yes, another 2" in ground clearance for the impreza and Legacy is needed as well. AWD in the snow is better served when you are not dragging your bottom around...and driving in bad weather and uneven conditions is why we buy AWD in the first place.
Edward A. Sanchez
I completely understand the need to make the base Impreza models more fuel-efficient, but I really hope Subaru doesn't water down the WRX or STI too much. Those are its performance flagships, and have a strong, passionate enthusiast following. They should maintain their class-leading performance.

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