2024 Subaru Impreza: The Fun is Back

Strong points
  • 2.5L engine is available at last (and a great match)
  • Superior handling
  • Ergonomics and visibility
  • More cargo space than Crosstrek
Weak points
  • Base model is not that interesting
  • Fuel economy could be better (and still no electrification)
  • Beware of the higher prices
Full report

Once a popular pick in the compact segment, with standard AWD, durable construction and decent value all part of the package, the Subaru Impreza now seems to be an afterthought. At least that’s what sales charts in recent years suggest. The automaker’s conservative approach in evolving times is only one reason for the decline.

For 2024, both the Impreza and the Impreza-based Crosstrek usher in a new generation. The latter is a much better seller, but the former remains a cheaper and surprisingly roomier alternative (it’s now available exclusively in five-door hatchback configuration, remember). Also, the Impreza is finally fun again.

Photo: Guillaume Rivard

RS Leads the Way

The new 2024 Subaru Impreza is offered in four trim levels—Convenience, Touring, RS (making its return and replacing the Sport) and Sport-Tech (exclusive to Canada). For the sake of affordability, the two lower trims retain the 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine producing 152 horsepower and 145 lb-ft. of torque. The manual transmission that used to spice things up a bit is no more, however.

The great news is that the other pair of models get a 2.5-litre mill delivering 182 horsepower and 176 lb-ft. of torque. Shared with the Crosstrek, Forester and Outback, this is an engine that works perfectly in a car like the Impreza, which is more than 200 kg lighter than the big wagon—0-100 km/h acceleration times drop from 10.3 seconds to 8.7 seconds, according to Subaru. It may not keep pace with a Honda Civic Si or Hyundai Elantra N Line, let alone a Volkswagen Golf GTI, but it’s a tremendous addition, for sure.

Photo: Guillaume Rivard

The continuously variable transmission isn’t bad, either, ensuring the engine feels responsive at lower revs. In RS and Sport-tech trims, it also offers a manual mode with eight simulated gears. You can crank up the fun factor at any given time by activating Sport mode from the SI-Drive system, which is super easy to do since the button is right there on the steering wheel and not buried somewhere on the centre console like in some other cars.

Since the WRX Doesn’t Have Five Doors…

Despite a higher price tag, the 271-horsepower WRX sports sedan has surpassed the Impreza in terms of volume in Canada. The gap between the two probably would be wider if Subaru sold a five-door WRX like in the good old days. That’s certainly not what the Impreza RS is attempting to be, but it does feature a WRX-derived steering system for more precise and hands-on driving.

Add an active torque split AWD system, improved suspension and 10-percent increase in torsional stiffness, and you get positively pleasant handling on par with the Mazda3. Put to the test in the rain and on gravel roads, Subaru’s latest hatchback felt agile and surefooted at all times, making us extremely confident behind the wheel. On the flip side, braking could be smoother and more progressive.

Photo: Guillaume Rivard

A More Accommodating Impreza

The 2024 Subaru Impreza continues to please with more comfortable and more supportive seats than its predecessor. Engineers strived to reduce noise at specific frequencies in order to create a quieter and more enjoyable cabin. Ergonomics are improved, too. In fact, it’s hard to complain about anything in that department.

In typical Subaru fashion, visibility is great. As for cargo capacity, the 578-litre trunk may not beat that of the Kia Forte5, Toyota Corolla Hatchback or Honda Civic Hatchback, but we’re happy to report it can pack more stuff than the Crosstrek (564 litres). Ditto when the rear seats are folded (1,586 litres vs. 1,549 litres).

Photo: Guillaume Rivard

Except for the base Impreza that features dual 7-inch displays, all models receive an 11.6-inch vertical touchscreen like the rest of Subaru’s lineup. It’s beautifully integrated into the dashboard and easy to reach, but the fairly attractive infotainment system that powers the screen is far from being the quickest, which can be pretty annoying at times. That and the ventilation controls at the bottom of the screen, which take too much attention away from the road.

Photo: Guillaume Rivard

Higher Prices, Still a Good Buy

We haven’t talked about styling yet, and that’s because the 2024 Impreza is not a radical departure from the previous generation. It does look like a five-door WRX, except without a hood scoop and polarizing body cladding around the wheel arches. The RS clearly stands out with 18-inch wheels in a dark metallic finish, black side skirts and other accents, as well as unique badging.

What about pricing? Well, the entry-level Convenience trim carries a base MSRP of $26,795, up $3,500 from 2023. When factoring in the revised freight and PDI charge of $2,308, the price tops the $29,000 mark. The RS starts just above $34,000 (all fees included). In addition to the bigger engine, this model adds some nice two-tone sport seats with 10-way power adjustments for the driver, a 10-speaker Harman Kardon audio system, wireless smartphone charger, power sunroof and driver assistance features such as automatic emergency braking in reverse.

Photo: Guillaume Rivard

Ultimately, the Subaru Impreza is fun and RS-pectable again, elevating itself above the Mazda3 and Korean competitors when debating the best buys in the segment. It’s arguably good enough for third place, behind the Corolla and Civic.

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