In the latest update of our ongoing report on the 2017 Subaru Impreza 2.0i Premium, we take a deep dive into its infotainment system.
Now, this is an area of the Impreza that has received a considerable amount of praise from most who have got behind the wheel over the past weeks.
Design-wise, the Subaru’s 8.0-inch touchscreen sits very prominently in the dash, accented by piano black gloss surrounds. The infotainment on the whole has managed to strike a great balance between functions that are controlled by the touchscreen and those controlled by traditional buttons.
For example, switching between broad systems like radio, maps and media – which includes things like Bluetooth and other external sources – is taken care of with buttons below the screen, but navigating menus within those systems is done via the touchscreen.
The screen itself is high-resolution, bright and vibrant, but can often fall victim to glare thanks to what appears to be a screen constructed with quite a thick top layer. Nonetheless, this doesn’t detract too much from what is a very easy-to-use system that some regard as class-leading.
A feature that caught my attention as soon as I jumped in the Impreza for the first time was its NFC compatibility. NFC, or near-field communication, is hardware that allows two compatible devices to communicate with one another when they touch. In the case of the Subie, it allows you to pair a phone by simply touching your phone to the dash in the required spot. No more navigating a labyrinth of menus to connect your device.
Up until recently, NFC was hardware that you’d only find in Android and other non-Apple devices. However, the latest-gen iOS handsets have finally caught up. So, if you’re among those who have just handed over one arm and one leg for the new iPhone, you too can soak up the NFC goodness.
On the topic of phone tech, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are both available, and come standard across the Impreza range.
The infotainment system is blustered by a second screen that sits above the main screen, which displays vehicle information like fuel economy and range, tyre pressure and other diagnostics. This screen is also where info on the EyeSight system is displayed.
The proprietary nav system is easy to use and features voice command, however that can be a bit hit and miss. Often the address it hears is nothing like the one you’ve said, but other times it’s right on the money. Considering it’s like many systems that don’t let you physically input addresses on the go, your best bet is to just pull over.
The reversing camera has a great field of view and is very clear, thanks in part to that high-res screen. It also features dynamic parking lines, or put simply, those bendy lines that show you where you’re heading. The exclusion of parking sensors both front and rear, while it would have been a nice touch, certainly isn’t a deal breaker.
USB connectivity is well catered for. There's a total of four USB points in the front, two in the glovebox and two in the cavity in front of the gear selector. Rear-seat passengers aren't so lucky, as there are no USB points dedicated to the rear cabin. Passengers will have to run a cable from inside the centre console.
While there are many areas where the Impreza’s infotainment system deserves to be praised, they are a few niggles that have reared their head after owning the Subie for some time.
If you’re fond of upping the volume of your tunes, expect a rattle to come from the rather flimsy sunroof cover. I found myself having to lower the volume to make it stop. Though you can still get plenty out of the sound system, so fear not. I haven't really found fault with the six-speaker system, though others have referred to it as slightly tinny. The Bluetooth audio quality is very good though.
Other problems come from the aches of glossy plastics and piano black finishes. Fingerprints and dust are a constant hassle – even if you can be bothered to keep a cloth handy, expect to have it out every five minutes.
Overall, the Impreza’s infotainment system is one that strikes a great balance between form and function. It’s a system that, in my opinion, is well above its competition in many areas. While a couple of areas are a little rough around the edges, if you plan on spending plenty of time behind the wheel, you stand not to be disappointed.
Stay tuned for the next long-term report on the Subaru Impreza, where we’ll delve into how it tackles the around-town drive.
Click through to the photo gallery for more images of the Impreza's infotainment system and connectivity.