Subaru Impreza 2017 2.0i-s (awd)
Owner Review

2017 Subaru Impreza 2.0i-S (AWD) review

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I'm gazing into the cloud of water gushing from underneath the 18-wheeler in front of me. The window wipers are vigorously spreading the mud over my windscreen, while I fight the steering wheel to keep the car from aquaplaning.

An opportunity strikes as the lane besides me clears for a moment. I take the chance and pin my foot hard up against the firewall. The four-speed automatic gearbox understands what I am demanding and down-gears into second while the little 1.4-litre engine howls to a blistering 6000rpm and… up-shift!

Wait… Nothing is happening, my foot is still down on the floor, yet I still have not overtaken that truck. I glance back into my rear-view mirror, only to notice the glaring lights of the cars fast approaching. After a few more seconds, the little Fiesta slowly crawls past the wall of water, as the sun comes out from the clouds revealing only more cars. I turn to my partner as she slowly unravels my arm, releasing her claws from beneath my skin, “This car has got to go”.

Three months later and multiple time-wasters, the little car sells for a fraction of the price we were hoping for. We needed a car that was not dangerously slow, so the obvious choice was to go turbo, AWD, and of course fun to drive. Well that’s what I would have wanted anyway, but the car is primarily for my now fiancée and her needs are rather 'different'.

So, we compromised and welcomed the new MY17 Impreza into our household. Well, at least it has AWD, but would that be enough to make the car fun to drive?

To my surprise, we can both agree that this is a pretty good looking generation of the Impreza. We all know the last few years have not been Subaru’s best. In top-spec 2.0i-S we got the blacked-out LED headlights with DRLs and 18-inch alloys – all matched with the Crystal White Pearl paint, it looks like a well-tailored suit.

This is the newest car we have owned, so having all of the current active-safety gadgets like Subaru’s EyeSight system lets me rest easy at home playing PS4, while she is out facing Melbourne’s infamous four-seasoned days.

The interior is not the usual Subaru, it’s almost European – a stylish dashboard with white stitching and carbon trimming. A cabin I don’t mind being behind the wheel of, as every time we decide to go somewhere together, I end up with the keys whether it’s my car or hers. With the pace technology is moving at, it’s nice to have the compatibility of Android Auto and Apple CarPlay to future-proof the car from rip-off dealership map updates.

We don’t have kids yet, so the interior space is plenty, but we decided a hatch would be the best fit because of the folding rear seats. It’s perfectly fitted so I can go pick up my parts for the project car, or drop a few stacks at Ikea to furnish our new place.

So it’s a nice-looking car. I mean, which modern car isn’t? Well, maybe don’t answer that, but from a guy who has never owned a car newer than a 1999, any 2017 would seem like a major leap forward. But what about the drive? The reason we sold off that tinny little Fiesta in the first place.

The flat-four produces 115kW of raw fury and all that power is channelled though a 'simulated' seven-gear CVT gearbox. Subaru promises it will drive better. I mean, it is 'All for the driver' right? Nope, it’s slow, and that CVT doesn’t help much either, but unfortunately Subaru does not offer this in a manual. Not that she can drive manual anyway, but the power – I can’t believe I’m going to say this – is enough. Enough for her to get out of trouble when it counts.

This car was never about the straight-line acceleration, though. Subaru’s focus has always been to make the safest cars on the road, which is why the little Impreza is the only car in this category and price point to offer AWD. While writing this review, we are faced with a rainstorm. Nothing unusual there, it’s just Melbourne showing us the best of its summer weather. This is what the Subarus are all about, though, driving in these conditions – and boy what a car it has been.

I own two rear-wheel-drive cars and they aren’t exactly the safest cars to drive in these conditions, especially when both of mine don’t have any form of traction control. However, strutting the Impreza through the storm, the car hangs tight to the tarmac with confidence, even when all that weight is pushed onto the outside wheels and the inner ones are hanging on for dear life.

Taking off at the lights in the wet is a breeze, making me feel boy-racer when I get the edge on the Camry hybrid next to me. The car drives like a dry day outside and gives my glamorous fiancée the driving confidence she needs to take on the world.

It’s a Subaru! They make great cars and it does so many things well, but if they had the 1.6-litre turbo from the Levorg, it would be the cherry on top. Soon I'll have to return this lease car and I'm back to the drawing board of finding a new one. Should I go back to taking advantage of the situation and finding a turbo, AWD, fun sports car for her that I can thoroughly enjoy? Or should I add this Impreza to the list and be realistic with my choice?