Does the Impreza impress?

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Friday, July 19, 2013

Jerome G. Neri

AFTER testing the Subaru XV a few weeks ago, Subaru Cebu gave me the opportunity to test the Subaru Impreza. I drove the car around the city streets and then took it for a long drive to Adventure Café in Balamban. To me the Transcentral Highway is a good place to test a car as there are uphill and downhill roads, cement and asphalt sections, and low speed, medium speed and high speed corners. There is a bumpy section and a smooth section. The road basically has everything for a proper evaluation of an automobile.

As I sat in the Impreza, the first thing I noticed was the elegant simplicity of the interior. One that won’t go out of style. The cabin is very functional. All the controls (aircon, radio, windows, etc.) are within reach and easy to operate. The
leather seats are soft and comfortable.

All the instruments are properly placed and easy to read. It has a wide multifunctional display at the center of the dashboard that also doubles as a rearview video monitor while backing up. It also has a USB port, Bluetooth hands-free calling, and an auxiliary input jack. The leather wrapped steering has an excellent feel.

The best part of the cabin in the Impreza is the fact that the left and right side of the car has its own independent temperature control. When I took my daughter for a ride in this car, her side was set at a comfortable 22 degrees Celsius, while my side was set at a cool 16 degrees Celsius.

The Impreza is also laden with safety features. The car comes with stability and traction control and anti-lock four-wheel disk brakes. It has a good number of airbags covering the front, the side, the seat, the side curtain and the driver’s knee.

Additionally, it has whiplash-reducing head restraints.

Uneven streets, twisting roads

The first part of my test drive was around our beloved city streets, 80 percent of which is composed of bumpy substandard asphalt/pavement and the other 20 percent are potholes. The Impreza showed it has a good, comfortable ride and felt solid on our poor-quality road surfaces. The engine has excellent torque going through the stop-and-go nature of traffic we have in our city. The size of the car is such that it is still easy and okay to drive through our very busy streets. At the same time, the interiors are spacious such that passengers would be just as comfortable. It is a great car for city use.

Now on to the long drive to Balamban. The car’s handling felt very secure. There is good feedback from the steering wheel, which gives a great sense of connectivity with the road. It was very stable in all the corners, with no body roll, while maintaining a comfortable ride, thanks to its horizontally opposed flat four-boxer engine that keeps the center of gravity low. The car accelerates neutrally out of the corners—no understeer, no oversteer. This is the benefit of the symmetrical all-wheel drive system that comes standard with the car. The handling is so good that when you look at the speedometer, you will be surprised at the speeds you are taking the corners: 60 km/h feels like 40 km/h. Braking is firm and easy to modulate—it is a big confidence booster. This car is such a pleasure to drive on the mountain roads that I would always want to be the driver and not the passenger.

Power and response

The Impreza is powered by a 148bhp 2.0L engine mated to the all new lineartronic continuously variable transmission. This combination is perfect for our city streets.

The new transmission is very responsive and its lineartronic technology has eliminated the downside of the continuously variable transmission wherein the rpms ramp up first without the corresponding increase in road speed. The engine power is just right for maneuvering around the city.

However, going up the Transcentral Highway, I found the power inadequate. With only 148bhp for a car that handles this good, driving it on nice twisty mountain roads is like watching Star Wars from a pirated DVD on a 14-inch TV instead of watching it in HD on a giant LED screen with the complete surround sound effects. You just don’t get the full experience this car is capable of doing with 148 bhp.

I want more horsepower in this car, a lot more horsepower, like at least 350bhp, the type of horsepower that when you step on the throttle you not only get pulled back but you become part of the seat. Excessive horsepower on this car will equate to a lot of fun. But then again, what I want is impractical and expensive. So back to reality— the Impreza is indeed a very good versatile car.

Against its competitors, the Impreza is the priciest, but it is also the only one in its class that offers a symmetrical all-wheel-drive system. It is this system that separates this car from the competition. The price difference is well worth every cent.

Who wants to win an Impreza?

Raise your palms

IF it’s an Impreza you want, it’s an Impreza you can win. All you have to do is join the 2013 Philippine leg of the Subaru Impreza Challenge. Challengers place their palm on a specified area on the car, without lifting it for as long as they can, with but a five-minute break every six hours, with added physical challenges on top of it all.

If your stamina is as strong as your drive to win an Impreza, come to the Cebu Leg on August 10, 2013 at The Terraces, Ayala Center Cebu and be among the Top 5 challengers to win an all-expense paid trip to Singapore to represent the Philippines in the Asian Face-Off of the Subaru Impreza Challenge where the grand winner wins a brand new Impreza.

So if you think you can come close to the performance of last year’s grand winner, Tholmas Gan Yu Shen of Singapore who clocked in 78 hours and 38 minutes, register now at Subaru-Cebu Showroom Office or at DigiHUB stores (Ayala, SM, Parkmall, JY Square, Marina Mall, & Banilad Town Center).

To join, you need to submit the following requirements: photocopies of Driver’s license, passport (valid for six months from date of travel), any valid ID (company or school ID), medical certificate or clearance, one 2x2 picture and one full body photo.

The registrant should be available from Oct. 27 to 30, 2013.

Submit personally the Application and Indemnity Form with all the required documents to Subaru Cebu showroom On A.S. Fortuna St., Bakilid, Mandaue City or in any Digihub stores. For more information, contact 345-9758 or 422-3133. (PR)

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