TERRESTRIAL GOOD TOURER: Banished off to a far corner away from the limelight of crossover stands the compact hatchback vehicle. Lamentations over North America’s lack of love for the staple of small family motor touring around the world are storied, for they are no less versatile their slightly raised CUV analogues. Thus it is heartening when some new love is shone by an adventurous lifestyle driving brand upon the five-door car, with Pleiades six stars stamped on the all new 2023 Subaru Impreza RS.
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WHAT: 2023 Subaru Impreza RS 2.5L compact hatchback is the lower ground clearance, body cladding free foundation for the popular Crosstrek small compact crossover activity vehicle. The exclusively five-door fifth generation series GT Impreza is underpinned by the Subaru Global Platform replacing the fourth generation GP series. For those who need their Imprezas in four door form there is the WRX performance sedan.
Standard Power (2024 MY Impreza Base & Sport): 2.0L DOHC 16V DI gas flat-4 = 152 hp/ 145 lb-ft @ 4000 rpm + continuously variable transmission + asymmetrical all-wheel drive.
Optional Power (2024 MY Impreza RS*): 2.5L DOHC 16V DI gas flat-4 = 182 hp/ 178 lb-ft @ 3700 rpm + continuously variable transmission w/ dorsal steering wheel shift paddles + asymmetrical all-wheel drive. (* Tested model)
- Si Drive Intelligent + Sport Drive Modes
WHAT (A) STYLING DIFFERENCE: Hardly a radical re-think of the genre, the 2024 Subaru Impreza RS sportback sheds some of the preceding GP’s econocar cuteness. Fully darkened wheels, mirror caps, window frames, front lower air dam, roof spoiler and lower rear diffuser portend what a WRX hatchback could have resembled. Unlike the VB WRX, though, gaudy cladding has been eschewed without straying from the brand’s outdoor adventure ethos.
No Cladding Rugged: The 2023 Subaru Impreza RS retains the familiar swept back windscreen, tall greenhouse as a stilt-less GT series Crosstrek small SUV. In keeping with its close relation to the latter cute ute, the new Impreza now bears a tall lateral edge hood with subtle power dome. The frameless slim hexagonal grille with upper character bar encapsulates full dark meshing. Prominent eye-brow DRLs, atop the headlamp assemblies, extending further inboard, a taller inverted “U” lower front fascia with larger dark clad pseudo inlets at the corners join the effort. Door beltlines are casually convex, flaring near the rocker panels. Emphatic lateral “boomerang” wrap around taillamps bite further inboard of the liftgate.
WHY: Godfather of all wheel drive compact hatchbacks revived with chic touring vibe.
WHEN: On-Sale (in the U.S.) Summer 2023
WHERE: Subaru new vehicle dealers
WHERE MADE: Ōta, Gunma Prefecture, Japan
HOW ROADWORTHY: Fitted with the plenty torquey 2.5L Boxer-4 mill, the latest Subaru Impreza RS lacks not for pep. The latest CVT and steering while SI Drive Sport mode does a convincing imitation of a torque converter automatic transaxle with 8 steps. Included steering wheel shift paddles can be flipped to draw out the engine speed, enabling Impreza RS to move out purposefully on the open road with rare hesitance.
-1 Idle start/ stop is a shaker, still a more rattling idle than smoother inline-4 powerplants
All Subarus, which cannot be had as re-badged Toyota sport coupes, always come with Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive and a nominal 60:40% full time torque split and ABS torque vectoring.
Corresponding to styling maturity, the 2023 Subaru Impreza RS delivers a grand touring ride, mostly devoid of the old econobox reflexes. Complete independence at each wheel benefits from stiffer bushings. Sitting lower to the ground than the related Crosstrek allows a softer springing with sufficiently quick compression control damping to net a grand touring ride. Getting carried away in severe mid corner undulations, though, and gentler rebound control allows some sway. Adequately brisk winding electric assisted steering slightly exaggerates low effort inputs, and it’s hard to discern much road feel. Despite some initial brake pedal tepidity, the addition of vented rotors to the rear wheels reinforces consistently reassuring scrubbing capability.
HOW FAR: 28 combined miles per gallon fuel economy; 560 highway miles range
HOW BIG/ LITTLE: √ 5 Occupant 2+3 seating. 60/40% split flat folding Row 2 seatbacks, seatback mount releases.
- +1 Tall greenhouse, low cowl and and door mount wing mirrors aid outward view.
– For Comparison’s Sake:
|2024 Subaru Impreza 2.5 RS AWD||Mazda 3 Hatcback 2.5 AWD||Toyota Prius 2.0 HEV AWD|
|Cargo capacity nom. – max. (cubic feet)||20.4 – 56.0 cu.ft.||20.1 – 47.1 cu.ft.||20.3 – 50.4 cu.ft.|
|Legroom – Row 2 (inches)||36.5″||35.1″||34.8″|
|Curb weight (pounds)||3275 lbs.||3255 lbs.||3340 lbs.|
|Horsepower / Torque (pound- feet)||182 hp / 178 lb-ft @ 3700 r.p.m.||191 hp / 186 lb-ft @ 4000 r.p.m.||196 hp / 139 lb-ft @ 4400 r.p.m.|
|Fuel Economy – miles per gallon combined EPA||28 m.p.g. (observed)||29 m.p.g. (observed)||49 m.p.g.|
HOW USEFUL: The adept at traffic combating 2023 Subaru Impreza RS is a hungry cargo holder as well.
√ 60/40% split folding 2nd Row seat backs; √ Cargo bay floor chrome hook anchors; √ Cargo bay wall ring-style hooks; √ Cargo-area 12V outlet; +1 Low cowl and and power folding rear outboard headrests aid outward view; +1 Non-intrusive cargo area wheel arch
Cabin storage = √ Lower center stack wireless device tray w/ USB ports; √ Deep Row 1 armrest bin; √ 4 cup & 4 bottle holders
+1 Tall + wide liftgate cargo load aperture w/ minimal wheel arch intrusion; Sub cargo floor storage (spare tire replaced by tire inflator kit)
-1 No power liftgate option; Short door pockets; No overhead sunglasses bin
HOW SAFE: √ 8 airbags; √ IIHS Top Safety Pick Plus; √ Rear camera w/ predictive grid; √ Blind spot, rear cross traffic & lane departure warning; √ Auto parking brake hold; √ LED adaptive swivel headlamps, auto high beam.
Partial Autonomous Driving:
EYESIGHTTM suite STANDARD on all models = √ Pedestrian detection braking; √ Forward collision avoidance braking & emergency steering; √ Lane Departure warning & keep assist; √ Adaptive Cruise Control; √ Lead vehicle start alert; √ Automatic High beam LED headlamps.
Included with RS (optional on lesser): ♦ Blind Spot detection; ♦ Rear cross traffic warning; ♦ Lane Change Assist; ♦ Steering adaptive LED headlamps
- +1 Accurate lane tracking, above-head console system activation / de-activation switches, ♦ Sun-visor extensions, ♦ Rapid resuming adaptive cruise control acceleration
- -1 Incessant approaching lane marker activated departure warning beeping
HOW PEOPLE FRIENDLY: The fifth generation Subaru Impreza interior has advanced from its predecessor’s economy conditions. Tiered dash and door soft panels are deftly mixed with metallic and gloss black accents. Switches and dials (optionally) have been incorporated into an oversized touch portrait media screen. Personal electronics storage and connectivity have entered the 21st century. The biggest improvement has been the integration of the multi-function displays into either the new TFT twin dial instrument cluster or the media display. The trademark upper center dash display has been banished. Panel gaps have been reduced and material contrast adopted. Yet some panel coarseness remains and seat cushioning lags the competition, whispering the mission is touring without the grandness.
√ Heated, power adjust 10-way driver (optional), 4-way manual passenger seats √ 4 power windows x full express; √ Auto climate control – 2 zone; √ Leather tilt + telescoping steering; √ 2nd Row and aft dark tint privacy glass; √ Power moon-roof (optional); √ Manual tilt/ telescoping steering wheel.
- +1: Front seats don’t rock anymore, being welded directly to floor.
Cool Gizmo(s): √ 11.6″ inch center stack portrait Starlink touch infotainment display
Details Done Right: √ Light + dark gray, red accented ballistic cloth seating; √ Aluminum pedals; √ Steering wheel red contrast stitching; √ Matte metallic and piano gloss black accent panels; √ Dual analog needle dial gauges w/ metallic rings; √ Flush door and center console toggle switchgear; √ “RS” logo Berber floor mats; √ Dark mesh headliner.
Nearly Non-Descript: -1 Hard door pocket linings; Hard plastic cabin pillars; No rocker panel covers; Hard instrument cluster binnacle hood.
HOW “APP” -LICABLE:
√ 11.6″ Starlink Multimedia Plus portrait oriented, upper mid dash embedded, touch LCD infotainment screen w/ OTA updates; √ Rotary audio volume dial, selection, defroster & Home screen switches ; √ Bluetooth, hands-free communications; √ SMS messaging; √ wireless Android Auto + Apple CarPlay; √ Starlink Apps; √ USB-A x 2, USB-C x 2, 12V x 2; √ Mobile device near field communications (NFC); √ Qi inductive charging pad
+1 High definition color graphics; Fairly oleophobic display screen
-1 Glossy infotainment screen can’t escape glare the way hooded upper center dash status display does.
Audibly: √ 10 speaker, 432 W Harman Kardon (optional) = Too bass heavy, volume doesn’t impress
Applications (mobile powered):
- Starlink Apps: √ Chimani, an onboard guide to landmark travel; √ Ebird ornithological identifier favoring Audubon members; √ Eve Connect monitors connected home security and climate.
By Subscription: √ SiriusXM (90 days trial); √ Sirius TravelLink apps (4 months included); √ Starlink Connected Services: Safety Plus (3 years trial), Security Plus (6 months trial), Concierge & Wi-Fi (through AT&T).
HOW MUCH: $28,975 = as tested 2023 Subaru Impreza RS 2.5L AWD suggested retail price
WHAT’S MISSING: Toned down lane marking approach warning; Better body fitting front seats
ANY COMPETITION: Mazda 3 Hatchback AWD: +1 near luxury cabin, sensuously sleek, tauter steering; 2023 Toyota Prius AWD: +1 hybrid electric fuel economy, non-hybrid new pep and modern art look
FINAL WORD: Five door loose and body cladding free sporty update to solid compact touring hatchback.
Contributing Editor: T. Paluch