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2008 Subaru Impreza: New York Auto Show

New Chassis and New Look Means a Quieter Impreza, Inside and Out
Subaru was busy at this year’s New York International Auto Show, delivering both a new Impreza and an updated look for their Tribeca crossover SUV. The new Impreza will go on sale in fall 2007, continuing with a five-door and a four-door and, of course, the highly coveted WRX model. We’ll have to wait until next year to get hold of the coveted STi.



Subaru revealed a more conservatively styled Impreza in New York, as they also did with the updated Tribeca. Impreza, particularly disappointing for the WRX models, lost much of its front-end character, gained side surfacing reminiscent of BMW, and the five-door traded in its Subaru edges for a more rounded form. The new look takes as much adjusting to as the 2006 model year facelift did when it brought us the wing-form grille from the Tribeca, but this time it makes you miss the Subaru feel.


By time the Impreza goes on sale in fall, buyers may well be used to the new face and less disappointed. If the new look brings in new buyers without losing the old, the change could be worth suffering initial criticism. In New York, Subaru had the sedan in WRX trim and the five-door in 2.5i trim on display, and both models looked better in person than in photographs. While the new five-door isn’t as quirky as the outgoing car, it is also less clumsy. Its shape is more elegant, though it doesn’t look like a Subaru from the rear.
EDITOR’s Note: Subaru aficionados appear to be initially turned off by the look of the new Impreza. Chat rooms are full of negative buzz about the styling. Maybe the performance will offset some of the criticism.


Here in the States, Subaru will continue to offer four- and five-door bodystyles for 2008MY (in 2.5i and WRX form), but the four-door sedan will be available only here. All-wheel drive continues as standard equipment for the States, with Subaru’s Vehicle Dynamics Control optional on Impreza for the first time. The airbag system has been updated to deploy driver and front passenger airbags in stages depending on passenger sensors. The driver’s seat has a sensor in the seat track to allow deployment based on seating position, while the front passenger’s side senses the weight of the passenger. Side-impact airbags are standard as well.


Interior Theme Borrows From Tribeca


Aside from exterior styling, there’s a new interior that takes inspiration from the Tribeca, good for Subaru establishing a family look inside even as they walk away from the wing-form nose. One element thankfully not brought over from the Tribeca was that model’s large, two-binnacle gauge cluster. There is more liberal use of a brushed-aluminum-look trim and the radio (or navigation if ordered) head sits above the HVAC vents, putting it in the driver’s sightline instead of below. The optional navigation system does not include a hard-drive system, though there are inputs for video jacks (directed at gamers, of course) as well as MP3 players. The Impreza gets framed windows, with larger door openings for better ingress/egress.

Look for Better Ride and Handling, but Similar Power
Not all of Subaru’s hard work was to the sheetmetal or interior. Under the hood, engines are updated for emissions and fuel efficiency, with both the 2.5i and the WRX using 2.5L boxer four-cylinder engines. The normally aspirated 2.5L delivers 170HP, but a new intake port improves low-end torque; emissions gains are from a new catalyst system. Work to the chassis for improved ride and handling, lowered NVH, and more interior space was done at several levels. Subaru now uses high-tension steel at key points for a stiffer but lighter structure. There is a longer wheelbase for more interior room and improved handling. The an all-new independent double-wishbone rear suspension brings improved ride, a quieter cabin, and a larger trunk. Placing the engine slightly lower in the chassis lowers center of gravity. The sum of these changes is improved crash worthiness, crisper handling, and a stiffer platform, according to Subaru. We’re looking forward to getting behind the wheel to experience the NVH and handling improvements, but we’ll take Subaru’s word on the improved crash worthiness.


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