When it debuted in 1992, the Subaru Impreza upended the automotive world. It was the first vehicle in its segment with all-wheel drive, proving that you didn’t need a large and expensive SUV to take on bad weather with confidence, and it won the hearts of automotive enthusiasts when its high-performance variants stole the show in rally racing. But over the years, the Impreza has lost its edge, becoming better known for offering practical and affordable transportation than for pushing the envelope. Now, the fully-redesigned 2024 Impreza is looking to the past for inspiration to restore its place in the market.
The largest change for the sixth-generation Impreza is the elimination of the sedan option for an old-school hatchback-only lineup. However, that is unlikely to upset many Subaru fans, seeing as the hatch already made up roughly three-quarters of sales. The large SUV-style rear cargo area is part of the Impreza’s charm and contributes to its practical style. The switch to a hatchback-only lineup will also help distinguish the Impreza from the closely-related Subaru WRX, which made its name as a hatch but is now only available as a sedan.
The Impreza RS Is Back!
At one point, the WRX was just a trim of the Impreza, but it was spun off as its own model in 2015 and given a dedicated architecture for the 2022 model year. Now that the WRX and Impreza lines have split, there is room for a hotter version of Subaru’s hatch, and the 2024 Impreza has capitalized on the opportunity by resurrecting the performance-focused RS trim. Last offered in 2005, the Impreza RS was effectively a WRX without the turbocharged engine of the top trim, and the new Impreza RS follows a similar pattern.
The 2024 Impreza RS comes with a larger 2.5L SUBARU BOXER engine producing 182 hp and 178 lb-ft of torque. That’s almost 90 hp short of the current WRX but a healthy step up from the Impreza’s standard 2.0L engine with its 152 hp and 145 lb-ft of torque. That level of power should allow the Impreza RS to compete on even ground with the Mazda3, which also offers a 2.5L engine and all-wheel drive. It also puts it in the same region as the Honda Civic Hatch with its 1.5L turbocharged engine, although that model is only available with front-wheel drive. Unfortunately, unlike the 90s version, there is no manual transmission for the new Impreza. The only transmission option is a Lineartronic CVT, although paddle shifters are available.
More Technology and Enhanced Safety
One place where the 2024 Impreza did not look to the past is its suite of tech features, and the redesign brings a slew of new options to enhance the driving experience. Foremost among them is the large 11.6-inch SUBARU STARLINK infotainment touchscreen, which recently made its debut on the WRX and the midsize Subaru Legacy. This large screen comes with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, a four-month subscription to SiriusXM Travel Link, and over-the-air updates to make installing future features painless. The RS trim kicks things up a notch with a trim-exclusive 10-speaker Harman Kardon premium sound system.
Maintaining the Impreza’s reputation for safety, the 2024 model comes standard with the latest EyeSight suite of driver-assist features. Updated cameras offer a wider range of views to detect and respond to potential accidents more quickly. The vehicle’s frame has seen torsional rigidity increase by 10 percent, which should help with crash testing and provide a more dynamic ride with sharper handling. However, this is a necessary revision as the previous-generation Impreza recently scored rather poorly in the updated Insurance Institute for Highway Safety crash testing, tarnishing Subaru‘s otherwise excellent reputation for safety.
Does the 2024 Impreza Recapture the Magic?
There is little doubt that the sixth-generation Impreza will remain a solid choice for compact car shoppers, especially for drivers who need a car that can handle harsh climates and slippery roads. Unfortunately, while the 2024 model has made a good effort at bringing the Impreza up to date, it doesn’t quite go far enough to recapture the magic of the original. The new RS version is exciting for Subaru fans, but its performance is only middle of the pack at best, and the rest of the new Impreza’s features tell a similar story.