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  • Writer's pictureMarc Gonzalez

2024 Subaru Impreza RS: The Perfect Balance of Efficiency, Practicality, and Fun

The Subaru Impreza has been updated for 2024 to reflect the company's direction toward efficiency and practicality. We had the chance to drive the new Subaru Impreza RS 5-door for a couple of days; let's look into what has changed from the earlier generation. The model we tested was manufactured at the Ota, JPN plant, and its MSRP is $34,158.

Subaru Impreza RS
Photo by Vince P. Szigeti

Subaru has recently been updating the design of its vehicles; Outback, Ascent, and Forester have all gone through this process, and now the design team has been tasked with updating their popular compact vehicle to keep it fresh and relevant. The new Impreza has sharper LED Steering Responsive headlights, which, as its name implies, are connected to the steering wheel to allow the driver to see clearly at any point in a corner. The front grille now sports a larger opening to enhance its slightly meaner look. The fog light housing complements the front-end design. Profile-wise, this hatchback continues to offer a rounder look compared to the aerodynamic Honda Civic, for example, without compromising on interior space. The 18-inch black finished wheels are a nice touch, contrasting with the Pure Red colour. You can also find the RS badge on each front and back door. The taillights are larger in the back, and the rear bumper is bulkier to emphasize its ruggedness. These are primarily negligible details; there are enough to differentiate this generation from the last, but it still needs to be overhauled. Subaru carefully retooled the ensemble to make it fresh.

Subaru Impreza
Photo by Vince P. Szigeti

Inside the Impreza, the changes are also subtle. The only meaningful change is finally the addition of the large 11.6-inch infotainment touchscreen. It has a large display for wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. This trim also includes the premium Harman Kardon sound system, which is a nice addition. The steering wheel, gauge cluster, and most buttons and switches are unchanged on the driver's side. Anyone who's driven a Subaru in the last 15 years will feel right at home. The gauge cluster and the cloth seats on the RS trim have red accents to accentuate the vehicle's sportiness. Unfortunately, no full-screen gauge cluster is available on any Subaru now, meaning you only have the small 4.2-inch LCD for the trip information and fuel consumption. Also, you get heated front seats, heated steering wheel and automatic dual-zone climate controls, to name a few features. The interior is quite basic, with some nice touches, including the leather-wrapped gear lever, cup holders and USB and USB-C ports. The interior room is enough for a vehicle of this size: four adults can sit in the car, with the middle seat being smaller and better suited for children. Car seat installation can be done quickly thanks to the ISOFIX ports hidden on the rear seats, and the Latches are within easy reach of the parent installing the seat. You can also pull the tab on the seats to lower them and increase the cargo capacity, which is already plentiful for a compact hatchback. That said, the Subaru Impreza doubled down on its strengths without trying to change a winning formula. 

Under the hood, the Subaru Impreza RS is still carefully stepping up compared to the Convenience version with a 2.5L BOXER engine rather than the base 2.0L BOXER engine. Unfortunately, the manual transmission is gone; if you want three pedals, you must get the WRX; otherwise, all versions of the Impreza are CVT. Equipped with the larger engine, its output totals 182 hp and 178 lb-ft of torque, an upgrade of 30 hp and 33 lb-ft over the base model. The loss of the manual transmission is a big deal since many Subaru loyalists like driving with three pedals. The move aims to push these buyers to get the WRX, but that vehicle isn't available in a hatchback form. So, it's a lose-lose situation, and we'll see how the market reacts in the upcoming years to these substantial changes. Also, the continuously variable transmission (CVT) kills the potential oomph that the vehicle could've had at the expense of fuel economy. You can still use the S-mode to get a marginally better sensation, but it still comes out short; the acceleration to 100kph is in the high 7s. The steering and handling are once again a strong suit, slightly sportier than the other Japanese rivals. The ride is settled, even in tight corners, making for an enjoyable experience. The suspension is also a little firmer since this is the sporty trim, which also improves the ride quality. The braking is decent; no worries there. On the bright side, the Impreza is still one of the few vehicles in the category to offer all-wheel drive across the board, one of the main reasons for its success ever since its introduction. 

Closing out, the Subaru Impreza RS continues to maintain its reputation of reliability, practicality, and affordability. Unfortunately, the Japanese automaker dropped the sedan variant, but the spacious one is still alive. Pricing is competitive for the segment; at $34,158, few vehicles are offered with all-wheel drive and get all this interior space. If you live in a snowy area and want to avoid buying an SUV, the Subaru Impreza must be on your shopping list.

Subaru Impreza RS 5-Door
Photo by Vince P. Szigeti

Subaru has lent us this vehicle for one week as a press vehicle. We have no affiliation with Subaru Canada. The above reflects our personal opinion of the car referred to above.

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