By Dave Abrahams
Cherry Hill, New Jersey - As pretty as it is on the outside, and in our opinion it is very pretty, the important thing about the 2017 Subaru Impreza is what you can't see.
Available in the United States as both a sedan and a hatchback, it's the first model to be built on Subaru's new Global Platform, which incorporates a number of different grades of high-strength steel at critical points to make it 70 percent stiffer than the previous Impreza body-shell and help damp out noise, vibration and harshness.
That's made it possible to mount the anti-roll bar of the double-wishbone rear suspension directly to the body, rather than on an insulated subframe, which significantly decreases body roll (Subaru says by 50 percent) while also making the steering more accurate, and the car's handling more agile.
The revised suspension also results in a lower centre of gravity, and increased self-centring action on the steering, making it eminently suited to the autonomous driving capability this platform is intended to support in future Subarus.
At 2670mm its wheelbase is 25mm longer than that of the previous-generation Impreza; overall length is up by 41mm and width by 38mm, creating a roomier cabin, while the roof is 10mm lower to reduce its drag coefficient.
The Impreza's signature two-litre 'boxer' flat four gets direct-fuel-injection and suitably revised mapping for more top-end power - up from 109kW to 112kW - as well as improved mid-range driveability.
Symmetrical all-wheel drive is, of course, standard across the range, and upscale models will come with a Lineartronic continuously variable transmission featuring a seven speed 'manual' mode with paddle shifters controlling seven pre-set ratios.
BELLS AND WHISTLES
The list of gizmotronics ticks all the boxes, from Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, to TomTom navigation, a reversing camera, and reverse automatic braking, which applies the brakes if it detects something behind the car that you haven't.
In addition, Subaru's optional Eyesight package includes adaptive cruise control, automatic pre-collision braking, lane departure warning and assist, blind spot detection, and rear cross traffic alert, with adaptive headlights, high-beam assist available as further options, as ell as a premium Harman Kardon sound system.
The new Impreza hasn't been confirmed for release in South Africa yet but it's known that the hatch will form the basis of the new XV, which is practically a given for SA, while the sedan will ultimately spawn the next WRX and STI models. Yes please.