Actually indefensible, but what a brilliant car

That Subaru Impreza really does everything you have to leave the zeitgeist behind. For starters, a turboless engine can shake it at the journal. It will be argued that he lacks the flexibility of his competitors. Correct. Without a turbo, it has to rev to reach its maximum pulling power, which with the Impreza is only 150 newton meters. The turbos of the competition blow at least 200. With corresponding advantages: a lot of power at low speeds and therefore minimal noise pollution. The Impreza is not an eye-catcher either. The design is a conformist formality; a hatchback like so many.

With standard four-wheel drive, the cheapest Impreza is already considerably more expensive than an entry-level Golf, although the packed top model is more complete than any German for just under 35 grand: leather upholstery, electric sunroof, electric driver’s seat, extensive multimedia and assistance systems. Subaru – they are really weird guys there – openly admits that the heavy 4×4 system leads to a slightly higher consumption. This also increases the consumption-related CO2emissions; 153 grams per kilometer, against 106 for a Golf with a modern three-cylinder turbo. An energy label F is out of date.

Why am I still defending this theoretically indefensible proposition?

Because it’s a fantastically made car from a brand that consistently puts non-cosmetic priorities over opportunistic consumer temptation. The constructive principles are unwavering. The flat boxer engine with its low center of gravity improves handling, the four-wheel drive guarantees a safety that is at a high level at Subaru anyway. The brand won awards for Eyesight, a safety system that monitors the environment with two cameras behind the windscreen and applies the brakes in emergency situations. There could be more, but this system appears to work remarkably well. Incidentally, the two camera eyes sit unfashionably next to the interior mirror: they look as if they have been there for fifty years.

He doesn’t follow every Subaru rule equally faithfully. Years ago, I heard a talk from a Subaru executive about the view all around. They didn’t want to leave that to rear-view cameras and blind spot sensors. They valued eye contact with the outside world. It is precisely on this point that the Impreza has been abandoned by its creators. The triangular C-pillar mini-window is a half-baked peephole in a significant blind spot. On the other hand, it is above average for a compact hatchback, spacious in the back. You feel that balanced chassis with every steering movement. It is exquisitely finished. This is a car you buy for its hidden qualities.


But who does that these days? The car is a disposable item that lasts a lease term. Then you transfer to the next fashion train. Nobody thinks: I want him to be tingly fresh in fifteen years. The first owner will not experience its durability. He leaves his Impreza after five or ten years with confidence to the next buyer, who thinks it is just as normal that it continues to drive for another decade or more without any problems. After ten years, Subaru proudly writes, 96 percent of Subaru’s are still on the road, “not infrequently with mileage in excess of three tons”.

But the proof does not provide a third-hand Subaru as a mobile advertising column in incorrigible BMW and Golf neighborhoods. He disappears invisibly into the shadow world of the good bourgeoisie and takes his best kept secret with him to his grave. In that sense, its durability is an unsaleable argument. And that is why Subaru remains marginal here in the country. Since generations benefit from one Subaru thanks to its longevity, they only need to build very few. By the way, that saves a lot of CO2emissions from car manufacturing.

I too have been so brainwashed by the turbo cult that I think: 114 hp for 1,376 kilos of mass, that will be a thing of the past. No way. Due to the stepless automatic transmission, which makes the car noisy when accelerating but always chooses the optimal speed for you, it is faster than the figures suggest. On paper, mediocre performance – top speed 180 kilometers per hour, acceleration from 0-100 in 12.4 seconds – compensates with sporty agility. This is a real Subaru, a make-believe anachronism that only shines when its rivals lie in the graveyard.

Unfortunately, in the era of the energy transition, he comes just too late to cash in on that grace. Now he is about to be overtaken by the electric European he previously defeated at Ausdauer.