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Impreza goes more mainstream


If you were expecting anything radical from Subaru’s all-new Model Year 2008 Impreza, you’ll be disappointed.

In a bid to widen the car’s appeal and make it more of a mass-market choice, Subaru has given it much more conservative styling.

The three-element grille first seen on the current model has been ditched – it seems not a lot of people liked it.

In its place is a completely-conventional – and blandly-innocuous – grille that is anonymous enough to not be out of place on a generic Japanese compact sedan.

Although Subaru has mainly shown the hatchback version in the publicity photographs released in the middle of last week, it has also shown the
new WRX sedan.

There’s nothing radical about it, either. It looks almost like a beefed up Honda Accord Euro and is a far cry from the edgy approach Mitsubishi is taking for the Lancer Evo X.

Both Imprezas were shown at this week’s New York motor show in the US.

The all-new 2008 Impreza will be launched in New Zealand in September. Initially it will only be available as a hatch, in standard and WRX forms.

Sedan models will follow later in the car’s life cycle.

Subaru will use the new Impreza to lead its assault on the World Rally Championship, in which it has already made a commitment to continue competing until at least 2010.

The new Impreza, the first major redesign of the car since its launch in the early 1990s, has a more European look than its predecessor and the hatchback model has some BMW 1-Series influences in its side profile and rear-end styling.

The new Impreza is being built in naturally-aspirated and turbocharged versions, including WRX and STi models.

Subaru says the new generation STi will have much greater external and internal differentiation from the WRX.

The Imprezas being shown in New York are US specification-only.

The American WRX is lighter than the current model and develops greater peak torque at lower revs – 800rpm earlier than the current car.

The new cars have longer wheelbases, improving handling and cabin space.
The new Impreza’s engine is mounted slightly lower in the chassis, lowering the centre of gravity.

The new Imprezas have double-wishbone rear suspension which intrudes less into the cargo area, producing a wider and deeper space. They have framed door windows improving body rigidity. The doors open wider for easier entry and exit
and rear seat legroom is also said to be significantly improved.

Subaru says the five-door Impreza hatch is “moving upmarket with a more stylish design to appeal more to woman buyers and break into the important European hatch market.”

Subaru of New Zealand general manager Chris Rickards says current Impreza sales are running at more than 90 percent hatches of the total volume.

“More than 60 percent of Impreza purchases are either made by women or influenced by women [and] increasingly we’re finding women seeking style and performance as well as safety in their new car purchase.

“This third generation Subaru Impreza is a huge leap forward in the key areas of design, engineering, safety and quality. Again Subaru has provided us with
a car that allows us to present a very convincing package particularly in terms of quality and value for money.”

Auto Trader New Zealand