All-new Subaru Impreza: WRX and WRX STI versions in the works

Published: 29 March 2016

► Latest Subaru Impreza revealed in New York
► Features the brand’s new Global platform
► New tech and features; WRX, WRX STI planned

Subaru or Snoozebaru? Based on the above pictures, you may already be firmly thinking it’s the latter. Yes, this is the all-new 2016 Subaru Impreza, underpinned by the brand’s latest ‘Global’ platform.

While it might not be the most visually exciting car on the block, many will be glad to find that several traditional Subaru hallmarks remain: it is, of course, all-wheel drive and, additionally, the new generation retains the classic boxer four that we’ve all come to love. Or, if you’ve ever had to change the head gaskets on one, hate.

What’s going on with the styling?

We’re sure a lot of people will be asking that. The new Impreza, for better or worse, utilises Subaru’s new design language – including the hexagonal grille and hawk-eye headlights seen on the recently facelifted XV. Regardless, it’s at least aerodynamically superior to its predecessor, featuring a lower drag coefficient.

It’s pleasing to see that Subaru clearly hasn’t lost its way on the practicality and usability front, which have always been among its strong points, though. It’s keen to point out, for example, that the new saloon offers excellent all-round visibility.

2016 Subaru Impreza

What’s underneath better be remarkable…

Subaru claims that the new platform grants ‘significantly higher levels of driving pleasure’, as well as improved comfort, crash protection and agility.

‘Safety is one of the key areas for Subaru,’ said Kazuhiro Abe, project general manager of the Subaru product and portfolio planning division. ‘We have always been top in this area but the new platform has moved the game on; it’s even more top level.’

The improvements have been made possible thanks to the use of high-strength steels in key areas, improving structural rigidity. Subaru states that the new platform allows the body structure to be 70 percent stiffer than before, enhancing stability and improving refinement.

It’s also suggested, thanks to a new body-mounted rear anti-roll bar, that the new Subaru rolls 50 percent less than the previous iteration. It’s slightly larger than its predecessor, too, which should allow the company an opportunity to increase interior space and bolster its surefootedness when cornering.

‘Driving feeling is much improved for the new Impreza, as a result of the new platform,’ added Abe. ‘It’s one of the key changes, performance-wise, and part of the very big evolution that has come about thanks to the new platform.’

One thing’s for sure: as the new Global platform is set to underpin a whole host of Subarus, it needs to be good – especially when Abe cites the Mazda 3 is a direct rival and the VW Golf as ‘a kind of benchmark.’

There are no other powertrain details available at the moment but that stiff, potentially light platform sure sounds like it could handle more power. Subaru does say that it can accommodate a wide range of powertrains, though. Flat-six from an SVX, anyone?

2016 Subaru Impreza

Are there any other highlights?

Yes. Subaru’s fitted the new Impreza with its ‘EyeSight’ stereoscopic camera system, which observes the road ahead to provide the following features in conjunction with the rest of the car’s safety systems:

  • Adaptive cruise control
  • Automatic pre-collision braking
  • Lane departure and sway warning
  • Lane keeping assistance

Buyers can also opt for rear cross traffic detection, blind spot warning, steered headlights and main beam assistance. All in, that should make the Impreza a very safe option.

As with the recently updated XV, the new Impreza will get Subaru’s ‘STARLINK’ media system, which includes sat-nav, Bluetooth and a rear-view camera. Sure, it already looks ten years out of date – but recent testing has proven it to be a perfectly functional and easy-to-use system.

Is a WRX or WRX STI version planned?

Have no fear, both are on the radar. Abe tells us: ‘I am not in change of this model, but of course the WRX or STI will be offered using the new model with its new platform – but I can’t say when.’

Will I be able to buy a new Subaru Impreza?

The official line is that the five-door hatch version of the new Subaru Impreza is still ‘under consideration’ for the UK market; similarly, whether either the hatch or saloon go on sale in the mainland European market is reputedly a subject of much debate. 

It’s been made clear that the conventional saloon version won’t make it to the UK, however – and that’s understandable, given the smaller market for them in the UK compared to hatchback models.

Regardless, given how strong the competition is – the new Subaru will end up rivalling the likes of the Golf, Focus and Astra, for one thing  – the Impreza will have to exceed all expectations to stand even a chance of making it onto a buyer’s shortlist.

Read more of CAR’s 2016 New York motor show coverage here

Click here for CAR’s A-Z guide to the 2016 New York motor show

2016 Subaru Impreza

By Lewis Kingston

Formerly of this parish. Inveterate car buyer and seller; currently owner of a '68 Charger project car