“The Okanagan was chosen for the wonderful twisting roads through wine country but also snow-on-demand at Big White Ski Resort and the setting was perfect…”
It’s all about gaining traction for Subaru, not just on the pavement but also in terms of sales.
For Subaru, traction and sales are related. When the automaker decided to switch its entire lineup of cars to all wheel drive (AWD) back in 1995, the company never looked back. (That was also the year Subaru introduced the Outback sport wagon.) Back then, sales then were roughly 4,000 per year and this year Subaru is on track to sell over 40,000 units – an impressive accomplishment.
In order to highlight Subaru’s latest Impreza compact sedan and hatchback, Subaru needed a location that could show off the vehicle on dry roads and in winter conditions. The Okanagan was chosen for the wonderful twisting roads through wine country but also snow-on-demand at Big White Ski Resort and the setting was perfect.
Earlier this year Subaru introduced the WRX, higher performance, Impreza-based sedan to accolades for that vehicle’s handling, power and design. It could be argued that Subaru has refreshed the outside of this new 2015 Impreza with WRX “light”. The new front grille, headlamps, air intakes and wheel options all make a much bolder statement. Sold a sedan or hatchback, both cars now have a sharper, more defined look. But Subaru also wanted to make a statement with what cannot be seen, the way the car is put together. One of the main areas of focus was sound insulation and reduced cabin noise. Thicker front and side glass is now used, along with wheel-well sound insulation, thicker door seals and under carpet baffling. Not the kind of advancements that get noticed initially, but they are welcome.
The Okanagan is one of those spots that is defined by summer; it’s all about the hot, dry lakeside vacation.
But after three days in and around Kelowna, experiencing the first blast of arctic air, the place is just as magical at this time of year. Stories of the wine pickers getting ready for the ice-wine harvest makes it as appealing and delicious as ever.
The Impreza had a similar one-dimensional attitude before this new model arrived. Yes, it is one of the most practical designs, with big doors that make getting in and out a breeze, the huge windows make outward visibility impressive but the car lacked sophistication. For 2015 Subaru has done a good job of remedying the situation. The radio head unit now looks like a polished, integrated feature, replacing what looked like an afterthought. There is a standard 6.2-inch unit or a larger 7-inch model for cars equipped with navigation.
A backup camera is now standard equipment along with Bluetooth connectivity and heated seats are standard on all but the base model.
Driving over ice covered roads on the way to Big White Ski Resort and then getting to push the Impreza as hard as it would allow on a snow covered handling course, gives a great sense of confidence in the cars AWD system. Traction is not an issue, the limit is really only defined by the type of tires the car is equipped with. For ultimate bite, a good set of winter tires along with the AWD system is impressive. The 148hp 2.0L 4-cylinder engine is carried over from the last car but now it is a Partial Zero Emissions Vehicle (PZEV), and the Environmental Protection Agency in the United States claims it is the “cleanest gas car on the market”, helping to reduce smog-forming pollutants. Other changes include a re-worked suspension and steering. The springs and dampening have been adjusted to reduce bouncing over big bumps and the steering ratio is quicker. This along with the much quieter interior makes this a good cruising car but the steering lacks feedback and under hard cornering, the car tends to under steer. The engine too is best suited for cruising; climbing mountain roads strained it at times. The good news is that enthusiast drivers have the excellent WRX as an option.
The 2015 Impreza is all about small changes to an already good car. The continuously variable transmission (CVT) now has a thicker casing for quieter operation and it now features pre-set steps to help mimic a conventional automatic. And manual transmission owners will be pleased to know that all trim levels can be equipped with a stick, but it is only a 5-speed. On the top two trim levels the Impreza can be equipped with EyeSight, Subaru’s collision mitigation system that can detect objects and pedestrians and will brake the car to a stop if the drive takes no action. This has proven to be popular with drivers and is something typically found in more expensive cars. What Subaru has not changed is the price. Starting at $19,995 and topping out at $30,295, there is a trim and price for many Canadian buyers. The added backup camera, improved interior and the bonus of a PZEV engine is all just an added benefit that should help Subaru get even more traction with buyers.
Power: 2.0L turbo 4-cylinder with 148hp
Fill-up: 8.5L/6.4L/100km (city/highway)
Sticker price: $19,995-$30,295