Impreza III range.
Released in September 2007 and launched as a five-door hatchback-only small car (a sedan followed in late 2008) was more spacious, better equipped, quieter and, for the first time, featured both six airbags and stability control as standard across the range.
And – of course – permanent all-wheel drive was standard across the range – giving the Japanese small car a unique selling point.
Wrapped in a more conservative new bodyshell claimed to be significantly more rigid, the Mk3 Impreza hatch rode on a 95mm-longer wheelbase (2620mm) and was 10mm higher (1475mm) and 45mm wider (1740mm), but 50mm shorter overall at 4415mm. It also weighed around 50kg less than previously.
According to Subaru, it liberated more space, while wider-opening rear doors improved in/egress, extended seat cushions offered more comfort for all passengers and an extra three degrees of seatback recline (to 26 degrees) improved rear-seat comfort.
Subaru said “vast improvements” had been made in terms of noise, vibration and harshness (NVH) thanks to the stiffer bodyshell, which was due in part to the fitment of framed door windows for the first time.
Manual versions were fitted with the convenient Hill Start Assist function (which worked in both reverse and forward gears), while all cars received a tilt/reach steering wheel, gas bonnet struts and an engine set 10mm lower in the chassis, while at the rear a new Liberty-sourced double wishbone suspension made the boot 123mm wider and improved handling.
Until the four-door sedan arrived, the range comprised four hatch variants, opening with the base Impreza R that replaced the Impreza 2.0i. Next up the RX replaced the Impreza RV while the RS replaced the 2.0R.
The turbo Impreza WRX was topped by the STi performance hero.
All non-turbo models were powered by an upgraded version of Subaru’s naturally-aspirated double overhead camshaft 2.0-litre horizontally-opposed four-cylinder boxer engine with Active Valve Control System.
It delivered 20 per cent more power (a healthy 110kW at 6400rpm) and seven per cent more torque (196Nm at 3200rpm) than the SOHC four-cylinder engine it replaced.
Standard across the range were twin front, front-side and full-length side-curtain head airbags, ESC, anti-lock brakes with electronic brakeforce distribution and brake assist, ventilated front and solid rear brake discs, five three-point seatbelts, front seatbelt pretensioners, load-limiters, height-adjusters and light indicators, five head restraints and rear child locks. Wheel sizes increased from 15 to 16-inch.
Meanwhile, the WRX was powered by a massaged version of the old model’s 2.5-litre turbocharged DOHC boxer four that delivered the same 169kW at 5200rpm and 320Nm of torque, but this time 800rpm lower at 2800rpm.
The Impreza WRX STi performance flagship hatch hit showrooms in early 2008. Two versions were offered, with the premium version badged STi Spec.R.
With 221kW at 6000rpm available and peak torque of 407Nm at 4000rpm (up from 392Nm), the new STi was the first production Subaru to officially produce more than 206kW, the self-imposed limit set by Japanese manufacturers.
Compared with the WRX, it featured a unique front bumper with large foglights and a specific rear bumper comprising a large aerodynamic diffuser. It also had a hatch-mounted spoiler more subtle that the previous STi’s massive boot-lid spoiler.
The flagship Spec.R featured lightweight BBS alloy wheels and Recaro sports seats. Cloaking the new model’s longer wheelbase and wider wheels were aggressively blistered wheel-arches on a bodyshell that shared only the bonnet, front doors, roof and rear hatch in common with the WRX, and which appeared largely unchanged in the World Rally Championship.
In September 2010 Subaru overhauled its turbo Impreza range, bringing WRX and the WRX STI closer while making them both more easily differentiated from the non-turbo Imprezas.
The wide body of the previous STI hatch became shared with the cheaper WRX, while a new wide-body sedan was introduced as both a WRX and an STI. The STI sedan was fitted with whas Subaru described as a ‘massive’ boot-mounted spoiler while the WRX sedan got a more sedate boot-lid spoiler.
Engines are unchanged except in the case of the STI, which got a revised torque map.
Subaru also took the opportunity to improve the suspension set-up of the STI after testing spring and damper rates in Australian conditions.
The suspension was 5mm lower, the spring rate increased, the damping revised and thicker front and rear stabiliser bars fitted.