The compact car segment is filled with some fierce competitors, and although many offer attractive new styling and technologies, only the 2014 Subaru Impreza provides what Canadian car buyers really need : standard all-wheel drive. After all, it’s the sensible choice.
Why the Impreza?
If the 2014 Subaru Impreza is not already on your radar, you may want to bring it into your line of sight. Canadian winters are not exactly merciful when it comes to snow blizzards and slippery roads, and although rivals like the newly redesigned Mazda3, Ford Focus and the Hyundai Elantra sedans may appear stylistically more captivating to certain people, and offer more features – some of which seem far better than the Impreza – Subaru takes the cake with its standard symmetrical full-time AWD system.
How important is AWD?
Not everyone is aware of the importance of AWD, and it is true that many drivers manage just fine with their front-wheel drive vehicles. However, if your budget permits, a base 2014 Impreza sells for under $20,000 MSRP, and is equipped with one of the best AWD systems in the industry, resulting in more driving pleasure and less stress.
Vehicles equipped with AWD benefit from enhanced traction, which is important since Canadian winters are long, snow is in abundance, and slippery surfaces can be very dangerous. If you are tired of rowing yourself out of parking spaces during winter, you may need a taste of AWD.
In this case, Subaru’s AWD system is said to offer better control, traction and stability, as there is a 50/50 power distribution to the front and rear wheels. Divide it in two, and 25 percent of the power is sent to each individual wheel. When push comes to shove, more power can be sent to the rear for better traction. Best of all this system is standard. No other compact vehicle in this segment can say that.
Performance and power
The Impreza comes standard with a 2.0-litre horizontally opposed 4-cylinder Subaru Boxer engine. It produces 148 horsepower and 145 pound-feet of torque. A manual transmission is standard, and a Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT) with paddle shifters is optional. Our test vehicle is equipped with the latter.
When driving the 2014 Impreza, there is an interesting set of pros and cons to consider. For example, acceleration is a tad slow, which may have you dreaming of something more interesting like a Mazda3 sedan. Also, the CVT, although it does help to enhance fuel efficiency, is notably noisy. In this case, you can opt for the manual transmission for a quieter and more rewarding experience.
If you can bypass these aspects, then the benefit of the Impreza (equipped with AWD) is that it makes for an interesting on-road driving experience. Handling is responsive, as is braking, and together it creates a sense of stability that makes you feel more confident when sitting behind the wheel. As a result, it can be fun to drive, whether on dry, wet, or snowy pavement.
Styling and features
With all that having been said, the 2014 Subaru Impreza is indeed a practical/sensible choice for Canadian car buyers, but do note that it does not necessarily hold the same appeal, both stylistically and in terms of features offered, when compared to its rivals.
The Mazda3 sedan was redesigned for the 2014 model year to offer an attractive new exterior and interior, and with the automaker’s SkyActiv technology and available features, one can understand why it is so intriguing. The Focus is energetic-looking, and Ford’s infotainment and Bluetooth system really are convenient. The Hyundai Elantra offers lots of features, which may seem more up-to-date than most systems offered with the Impreza. That is not to say the Impreza is not a worthy consideration, but it does provide a simpler, dare I say tamer interior style than its rivals, and the technology can at times seem older than it really is.
With this in mind, features like voice-activated navigation, a rearview camera, satellite radio, XM NavTraffic, and voice-activated Bluetooth are available depending on the model selected. Heated front seats, a power moonroof, leather-wrapped steering wheel, and automatic climate control are also among the features to consider.
To buy or not to buy?
We tested the 2014 Impreza 4-door Sport for one week on both dry and wet and snow-covered pavement, and aside from a noisy CVT and slightly slow acceleration, the sedan is a breeze to drive and managed well on low-traction surfaces. We were a little surprised however, with our combined city/highway fuel economy rating of 10 litres per 100 kilometres (over 268 km), but as always your rating will depend on how you drive, and we certainly had our share of fun with this 4-door model.
In terms of space, we believe that both front and rear passengers will be quite comfortable, and that taller rear occupants should be OK with the legroom available to them. As for cargo volume, the 340 litres allows for items like your suitcase, camera equipment or grocery bags, for example. You can also fold the rear seats with a 60/40 split, or if need be a 5-door hatchback version of the Impreza is available for more interior space.
The 2014 Subaru Impreza sedan remains a sensible choice for Canadian car buyers. Its tame exterior styling and simple interior, when compared to rivals, are nothing to reproach, and although the Mazda3 and Ford Focus have it covered with features and technology, the Impreza will impress with its standard AWD system.
2014 Subaru Impreza gallery