Smart thinking drives new Impreza

Choosing is simple with the new-generation Impreza: we’re set to again get just one derivative, again shared with Australia. But which of their models will it be?


CAN you guess which member of the Impreza family just been revealed across the Tasman will be coming on sale in New Zealand?

That’s effectively the challenge being laid down by Subaru New Zealand’s boss.

Wal Dumper has confirmed the usual product-sharing plan that exists between our countries will continue in respect to the 2017 Impreza, an all-new model launching in December, but with a twist.

Just one derivative from the sedan and hatch lineup just announced for the Australian market forms the basis of the car selected to come across the Tasman.

“We’re similar – we take Aussie spec cars 99 percent of the time. But (with Impreza) we’re only going to have a one model lineup. It is an Aussie spec car but it is just one of them.”

So which shape and which of the four levels of specification provided to our neighbour will it be?

That’s where Dumper says he doesn’t want to give too much away.

He’s allowed that it is more likely to again be a hatchback, rather than the sedan format also offered over the Tasman, and that it will probably be a higher-end variant.

“They’ve got sedans and hatches and derivatives – we’ve gone for a one model line-up, like we currently have, because we know that works for us and because that gives us the best deal on limited production.”

New Zealand and Australian sales strategies will also differ. Our neighbour has determined to focus harder on young buyers, a plan that is in tune with how the maker, which sees this new car as having the potential to be “more cool” with that age group.

However, Dumper contends that would be a somewhat pointless exercise here because “young people in New Zealand tend to buy used import Subarus, not brand new ones.

“So even our target audience is quite different and the model we have got is targeted quite differently – but we think we have got quite a special story, a good value story.”

Keeping it simple keeps it smart. “We’ve gone to Japan and said we will do one model, one deal and limited production runs and they (the factory) come to the party because it is easy for them.”

At present the nameplate is represented by a $29,990 S-Edition hatchback that is well loaded with a 2.0-litre petrol, Lineartronic constantly variable transmission, four-wheel-drive, Bluetooth, reversing camera and climate air.

That’s basically the same spec meted the new entry model, badged the 2.0i across the Tasman – though the new infotainment setup also now allows this car to be the first Subaru provisioned with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

Sounds good?  On current exchange rate, the 2.0i would be a cheaper offer that what we presently see. Buyers might like that idea, but Subaru NZ will doubtless prefer to maintain price continuity and also provide Kiwis a taste of the new level of polish that, Subaru reckons, makes this car a rival for the likes of the Mazda3 and Volkswagen Golf.

With that in mind, then, it seems more probable the Auckland office will be considering our neighbour’s mid-level ‘L’ specification that upgrades to the EyeSight driver assistance and safety system, now with autonomous braking, plus an 8.0-inch touchscreen, updated driver information display, dual-zone climate-control air-conditioning, a leather-clad steering wheel/gear selector, upgraded cloth trim, electric-folding mirrors, front foglights with integrated daytime running lights.

Alternately, it might even prefer to reach to the next-step P edition, that adds an electric sunroof and satellite navigation, assuming that step doesn’t push it into a pricing area that is too rare for past customers.

Of course, if Subaru NZ really wants to send a bold message, it could it simply go whole hog and focus on the flagship 2.0S.

This divests the cheaper editions’ 17-inch wheels for 18s and goes full strength on the latest driver assists. In addition to everything found on the P, the top dog has blind spot monitoring, lane change assist, rear cross traffic alert, an active torque vectoring system, light-sensitive LED headlights with directional beam, automatic wipers, heated front seats/mirrors, leather upholstery, electrically adjustable driver’s seat and extra exterior side-skirt trim.

However we go, Subaru is promising a better driving experience from what is the first model built on its new global platform. This is aimed at making the car – and all future Subarus that will be built off the same underpinnings – more involving. The platform is set up to be stiffer and stronger, and it has a lower centre of gravity, too.

The car also takes an updated 2.0-litre naturally aspirated ‘boxer’ four-cylinder petrol with 115kW of power (up 5kW) and 196Nm of torque (unchanged) and drive purely through a CVT.