Sneak Preview: 2012 Subaru Impreza

We recently sampled the new third-generation flat four in a European-spec Forester. Despite that vehicle's 3300-pound weight, we were satisfied with the modest power and its ability to move through city and highway traffic. Hard acceleration either from a standstill or at speed requires patience, though. Subaru claims a 10.7-second sprint to 62 mph, although a lighter and more aerodynamic Impreza would obviously undercut that sluggish figure.

Compared with the second-generation 2.0-liter (which hasn't been sold in the United States recently), the new engine uses a longer stroke and smaller bore for reduced friction and improved low- to mid-range torque. The longer stroke, though, makes for a noticeably harsh and loud demeanor at high load above 3000 rpm. The uncommon coarseness stands in direct contrast to Subaru's claim that the horizontally opposed four provides smoother operation than an in-line four-cylinder.

Although we haven't heard a word about the next-generation WRX or STI, that's hardly cause for concern. The two high-performance models are an inseparable piece of the Impreza brand. Expect the formula -- a turbocharger, more advanced all-wheel drive, and brash bodywork -- to remain unchanged.

Nowhere to go but up
Subaru still has a lot to prove with the production car, but our early preview of the 2012 Impreza shows that the brand is moving in the right direction. When we do get behind the wheel, we're hoping to find that the manual shifter has been tightened up, the slop in the steering has been eliminated, and the interior has been made much nicer. But for now, we can say that the much-needed progress in fuel economy and the potential for an exciting new design give us hope for the next Subaru Impreza.

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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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