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2017 Subaru Impreza Sedan Manual

Car and Driver logo Car and Driver 12/5/2017 GREG FINK

2017 Subaru Impreza Sport sedan
As much as we prefer the idea of shifting gears for ourselves, some manual transmissions aren’t so easy to love. Take the five-speed gearbox in the recently redesigned Subaru Impreza: Its shifter feels notchy and imprecise, making it unpleasant to use, and the shortage of cogs fails to make best use of the standard 2.0-liter flat-four’s narrow and peaky (read: naturally aspirated) powerband. It’s a pity, really, since Subaru’s parts bin contains a newer six-speed manual (as found in the Crosstrek) that’s much nicer to manipulate and mates better with this engine.

Warmed over from the previous-generation Impreza, the 2.0-liter added direct injection for 2017 and now produces 152 horsepower—four more than before. Those ponies don’t all escape their stalls, however, until the engine is spinning at 6000 rpm, just 300 revs shy of the tachometer’s redline. And the 145 lb-ft of torque peaks at a lofty 4000 rpm. Call us spoiled by the spread of turbocharged fours that generate grunt just off idle—or even the torquier naturally aspirated 2.5-liter flat-four that Subaru employs in other models.

Related Video: 2017 Subaru Impreza: Five things you need to know(Provided by Roadshow)

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Modest Acceleration

Thanks to a short first gear and a heady high-rpm clutch drop (that’s how you drive your family sedan in traffic, right?), the Impreza accelerated from zero to 60 mph in a reasonable enough 8.4 seconds and through the quarter-mile in 16.6 seconds at 84 mph. Both figures, though, were some ways off of what we recorded from both a stick-shift Mazda 3 equipped with the base 155-hp inline-four and a manual Volkswagen Jetta with the entry-level 150-hp turbo four. The Mazda scooted to 60 mph in 7.5 seconds while the VW needed 7.7, and they both were still a half-second or more ahead of the Impreza at the end of the quarter-mile.

Besides being naturally aspirated, the Subaru is tasked with lugging around the additional weight of its standard all-wheel-drive system, a feature not found on the Mazda or the Volkswagen. At 3125 pounds on our scales, this Impreza weighed 116 pounds more than the Jetta and 242 pounds more than the 3. That extra heft and limited low-end grunt conspired to make the Subaru feel even more lethargic at highway speeds.

2017 Subaru Impreza Sport sedan© Michael Simari 2017 Subaru Impreza Sport sedan

In the Blood

Powertrain aside, the latest Impreza is a relatively impressive package. Blessed with a refined and competent chassis that satisfactorily blends passenger comfort and driver engagement, the Impreza is surprisingly fun to manhandle within its limits, which turned out to include a segment-competitive 0.82 g of maximum grip on our 300-foot skidpad. Enjoyable driving attributes include direct and quick electrically assisted rack-and-pinion steering, suspension tuning specific to Sport models like our test car, and the all-wheel-drive system’s ability to help the nose-heavy sedan rotate through turns.

While other Imprezas come equipped with 10.9-inch front brake rotors, the Sport features a pair of larger 11.6-inch units. (All Imprezas come standard with 10.8-inch rear rotors.) Riding on a set of 18-inch Yokohama Avid S34P all-season tires, this Impreza Sport came to a halt from 70 mph in 170 feet, bettering a lighter Civic Si on all-season rubber by 6 feet.

2017 Subaru Impreza Sport sedan© Michael Simari 2017 Subaru Impreza Sport sedan

Longer, wider, and lower than its predecessor, the new Impreza wears shapelier bodywork that emphasizes its added girth. The resulting design is handsome, if not particularly exciting. Still, Subarus used to look geeky, but this one blends in with the crowd. The more dynamic-looking Sport trim includes a front fascia with LED daytime running lights, aggressive rocker panels, attractive 18-inch wheels, and a tacky wing.

Similarly, the solid and ergonomically friendly cabin is spiced up with Sport-exclusive details such as metal pedal covers, faux carbon-fiber trim, and red stitching on the dashboard, door panels, steering wheel, and shift lever. A standard 8.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system replaces the 6.5-inch unit found in lower-level Imprezas. The display features large and clear graphical buttons, quick response times to touch inputs, and logical menu structures. And regardless of trim, every Impreza includes Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration.

2017 Subaru Impreza Sport sedan© Michael Simari 2017 Subaru Impreza Sport sedan

The Price Is Right Here

With a starting price of $22,815, the Impreza Sport costs $425 more than the more powerful and more engaging Honda Civic EX-T with a manual—although the Honda lacks the all-wheel-drive system that draws many Subaru owners. Our Lithium Red Pearl test car also featured a $2150 option package that included a premium audio system, a sunroof, and blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, bringing the total price up to $24,965—or $175 more than a 205-hp Civic Si sedan.

Choosing the stick means doing without Subaru’s EyeSight suite of safety features (adaptive cruise control, automated emergency braking, lane-departure warning, and lane-keeping assist), part of a $2945 option package available only on Sports equipped with the $800 continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT).

Given the middling performance and the pricing disparity, it’s hard to make a case for the Impreza Sport over better-performing and less-expensive competitors. Still, if the allure of all-wheel drive is just too great to ignore, we’d recommend opting for the CVT, which mimics the stepped gearshifting behavior of a traditional automatic. We’ve criticized this CVT in our long-term Impreza hatchback, but even so, it’s a better alternative than this particular manual gearbox.

Specifications

VEHICLE TYPE: front-engine, all-wheel-drive, 5-passenger, 4-door sedan

PRICE AS TESTED: $24,965 (base price: $19,215)

ENGINE TYPE: DOHC 16-valve flat-four, aluminum block and heads, direct fuel injection

Displacement: 122 cu in, 1995 cc

Power: 152 hp @ 6000 rpm

Torque: 145 lb-ft @ 4000 rpm

TRANSMISSION: 5-speed manual

DIMENSIONS:

Wheelbase: 105.1 in

Length: 182.1 in

Width: 70.0 in Height: 57.3 in

Passenger volume: 97 cu ft

Trunk volume: 12 cu ft

Curb weight: 3125 lb

C/D TEST RESULTS:

Zero to 60 mph: 8.4 sec

Zero to 100 mph: 25.6 sec

Zero to 110 mph: 33.4 sec

Rolling start, 5–60 mph: 9.6 sec

Top gear, 30–50 mph: 14.6 sec

Top gear, 50–70 mph: 14.7 sec

Standing ¼-mile: 16.6 sec @ 84 mph

Top speed (drag limited): 120 mph

Braking, 70–0 mph: 170 ft

Roadholding, 300-ft-dia skidpad: 0.82 g

C/D FUEL ECONOMY:

75-mph highway driving: 30 mpg

Highway range: 390 miles

EPA FUEL ECONOMY:

Combined/city/highway: 26/23/31 mpg

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