The success of the Subaru brand in our country can be attributed to its successful formula of combining affordability with aspiration. In other words, Subarus are cars you can actually aspire to own, not just dream of buying if you win the lottery.
The Subaru Impreza 2.0 R Sport MT occupies a special position in the Subaru lineup here in the country. It is the brand's most affordable model, making it an ideal bet for those who want a Subaru in their garage while keeping a close eye on their bank account.
The Subaru Impreza hatchback's looks have been the subject of intense criticism since it came out. The bottomline is that consensus isn't in the Subaru Impreza's favor. True enough, the initial impression of the Subaru Impreza's shape is far from love at first sight. It looks simple and featureless, with no immediately discernable design elements to make it known as a Subaru.
I personally don't see this as a design weakness, the Subaru Impreza hatchback's simple shape only makes it easier to enhance with aftermarket modifications, like a blank lump of clay to mold into the look you want. For an example, look no further than the badass Subaru Impreza WRX STI variant. With bigger arches, larger tires, a (functional!) hood scoop, and a spoiler, the Impreza STI looks like it was designed that way from the beginning.
The test unit lent to me had upgraded Rota rims and lower profile tires than what can be found in stock Imprezas. Even this simple upgrade already improved the look significantly.
Inside the Impreza's cockpit, it's a minimalistic look, which is a polite way of saying it's rather bare. But this also means the knobs and buttons are intuitive. Those looking for bells and whistles will have to look further upmarket. Everything the driver sees is businesslike and straightforward, and this is a good thing because the Impreza's business is to deliver a driving experience culled from its vast rally experience.
Speaking of rally experience, in the center console is a reminder that the Impreza isn't a typical compact sedan. Like all Subarus, the Impreza has a four-wheel drive system, and just beside the parking brake, a dual-range select lever allows the driver to choose between high and low range. This type of lever can usually be found in off-road vehicles. Low-range gearing is better suited for rough roads and smooth take-off when towing load, while high-range is ideal for highway and street driving.
On paved roads the Impreza feels planted and in control (although I have to admit the upgraded tires may have a say on this). The five-speed manual doesn't slot through the gear changes as neatly as you want at first, but practice makes perfect.
The 2.0-liter will have you believe its 150hp and 196Nm of torque are more than enough. And you will believe it until you've driven the hardcore STI version that generates double the power and torque. But remember that the STI costs more than twice: Does it deliver double the excitement?
My safe answer is that the fun is proportionate. If you have the money, the STI is a purchase you won't regret. But if your budget is more appropriate for the 2.0R, you will still be buying a vehicle more focused on sportiness compared to rivals in its segment.
If this is something you can appreciate as a driver and as a consumer, then your chariot awaits. If you keep noticing the spartan interior, the lack of luggage space and the odd exterior shape, better look at other brands.