Subaru’s fourth-generation Impreza hatch and sedan received the option of an efficiency-enhancing continuously-variable transmission (CVT) with paddle-shifters to simulate six stepped ratios, replacing the outmoded four-speed auto of its predecessor.
Other efficiency measures included a redesigned 2.0-litre ‘boxer’ four-cylinder petrol engine with an identical 110kW/196Nm power and torque output to the outgoing model, idle-stop technology and improved aerodynamics.
The upshot was a claimed 22 per cent fuel saving for the CVT-equipped variants, down to a combined-cycle fuel consumption figure of 6.8 litres per 100 kilometres while six-speed manual variants consumed 7.1L/100km.
Efficiency gains, which placed the small Subaru ahead many of its rivals, did not come at the expense of the brand’s trademark symmetrical all-wheel-drive layout making the improvements all the more impressive given the weight and friction penalties associated with such systems.
One of the main technology highlights is a new multi-function display, which on entry-level models provided the driver with fuel efficiency information including how many minutes of engine running time have been saved by the idle-stop system.
On up-spec L and S models, a premium unit enabled the driver to compare the fuel efficiency of each journey including how much fuel was saved by the use of idle-stop and unless the optional satellite navigation unit was installed, it also displayed the reversing camera image.
Having received a five-star ANCAP rating, standard safety equipment included seven airbags, front seatbelt pre-tensioners and load-limiters, anti-lock brakes with electronic brake force distribution and brake assist, electronic stability control, all-wheel drive and a hill holder (manual variants only).
All variants came with climate control, cruise control, six-speaker CD sound system with iPod, Bluetooth and USB connectivity, a height-adjustable driver’s seat, height and reach steering wheel adjustment and two interior 12-volt power outlets.
The base model came with 16-inch steel wheels while the mid-range L variant got 16-inch alloys plus dual-zone climate control, leather-trimmed steering wheel and gear shifter, a reversing camera, front centre armrest, front fog lights and rear privacy glass.
The top-spec S added 17-inch alloys, upgraded upholstery and sporty aluminium pedals plus external embellishments including door mirror-mounted indicators, chrome brightwork and side skirts.
Luggage capacity remained on the small size compared with rivals at 340 litres for the hatch and 460 litres for the sedan.