Subaru Impreza (2007-2011): Review, Problems, Specs

The third generation Subaru Impreza (GH, GE) took a bow at the 2007 New York Auto Show dresses as both a hatchback and sedan (available on the market since 2008), but also as the turbocharged WRX derivative. The WRX STI followed in October 2007, while the US only received the 2.5-liter version, along with the WRX. A facelift was operated in late 2009, but changes were minor and included a new grille insert.


Pros & Cons
Strong Points

Pros


Strong Points
  • safer than the model it replaces
  • spacious
  • plenty of standard equipment
  • practical
  • all-wheel drive

Recommended Versions
Strong Points

Cons


Weak Points
  • low quality, outdated interior
  • high emissions and fuel consumption
  • few engine options
  • mediocre to drive

Stay Away From
  • avoid WRX models if you’re on a budget
  • stay away from the four-speed automatic transmission
  • the diesel is unrefined and the 1.5-liter unit feels underpowered, so look elsewhere
Strong Points

Attention


Known Problems & Recalls
  • plenty of customers have reported windshield and windows visibility issues, as they seem to have a film on them
  • in some cases, the engine might rev although the clutch is in
  • timing belts and clutches are known to fail on some 2008MY Imprezas, coupled with brake issues
Car Details
Powertrain

In Europe, Subaru granted the third-gen Impreza with two Boxer gasoline engines: 1.5-liter (107 hp) and 2.0-liter (148 hp). However, both options feel a bit underpowered when taken out in traffic but the 2.0-liter seems happier to provide the required pull power compared to its smaller counterpart.

But there are also encouraging things about this car. One, for example, is the five-speed manual and its slick way of changing gears. The four-speed automatic, however, feels outdated, makes the engine thirstier than it already is and fails to impress during hard acceleration sessions.

For hardcore users, Subaru introduced the WRX derivative featuring either 233 or 255 hp (on S variants).

The 2.5i unit available exclusively for US customers is good for 173 hp but more important, it behaves better than its European peers in terms of performance, grunt but also noise – and by that we mean the music-for-the-ears kind of noise.

A diesel engine was launched in 2009 for European customers and promised an average fuel consumption of 48 mpg, a lot better than its gasoline-powered alternatives. However, it lacked refinement compared to other units in its segment.


Handling

The so-called Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive system does a wonderful job keeping the car on the road, traction is an omnipresent commodity and corners are easy to tackle at higher speeds. Also at higher speeds, the electrically-assisted steering hardens while at lower, city speeds, it softens so tight urban setups are not something you should worry about.

Precision is something you get from the steering, but at times you’ll feel like engineers overreacted in terms of lightness and response.


Safety

Euro NCAP crash-tested the Subaru Impreza after the 2009 introduction of the more demanding impact protection scheme and the compact came out with a five-star rating. It’s worth noted that every Subaru Impreza comes with ABS, EBS, and a suite of dual, front, and side airbags.

Comfort

For this particular generation, Subaru increased the car’s width which helps with hip and shoulder room at the back. Headroom is more enough but only two will travel decently on the backseat. The front passenger however has a lot more space at his/her disposal.

Driver-wise, the area surrounding the steering wheel looks rugged as if it came off a pickup truck but the driving posture is comfortable even on longer trips, while visibility rounds up the package.


Quality

There’s some notable improvement compared to the previous Impreza, but still not enough to challenge the likes of Ford Focus, Vauxhall/Opel Astra, or VW Golf. Yet, design and quality are a certain improvement, but most plastics still ooze harshness and a cheap aura.


Practicality

Boot space stands at 301 liters for the hatchback, placing the Subaru Impreza behind the likes of Citroen C4 (314 liters) and Hyundai i30 (340 liters). A few cases can be fitted in the trunk, but you won’t find plenty of storage compartments inside the cabin, aside from the door pockets and the medium-sized glovebox.


Infotainment

A CD stereo system with CD multichanger, DVD, and sat-nav on top-level trims is all you can expect from the third-gen Subaru Impreza.

Efficiency

Well, it also comes down to this aspect, doesn’t it? The 1.5-liter unit returns around 34 mpg, while the larger 2.0-liter powerplant promises 37 mpg. Economy-wise, things look even darker for the WRX versions, so expect an average fuel consumption of 27 mpg. It’s certainly not impressive, but at the same time CO2 emissions for the two engines are rated as follows: 176 g/km for the 1.5-liter mill and 199 g/km for the 2.0-liter banger. The diesel brings 155 g/km of CO2 on the table, but again, the WRX is the least eco-friendly Impreza, with 246 g/km of CO2.


Equipment

Every Subaru Impreza comes with all-wheel drive, power windows, fog lamps and six airbags plus climate control. For the 2.0R trim, Subaru adds 16-inch rims, ESC and xenon headlights. Visually, things improve on the 2.0RX due to front and rear spoilers, chromed final exhausts, 17-inch alloys and interior amenities such as sat-nav and front sport seats (only on the WRX).


Acquisition

Your best option is to visit a Subaru dealer when buying used, but due to the car’s robust mechanical setup, you’re not making a mistake if you choose to buy privately. However, make sure the car is thoroughly inspected. Also, the diesel version is very popular and easy to find on the used market, although the 2.0-liter gasoline engine is equally desirable for the third-gen Impreza. If you decide the WRX is the car for you, make sure you look for dented wheels and body parts. Also, take into consideration that most likely, these sporty variants have been manhandled and driven hard.

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