Images are for illustrative purposes only and may feature different models within the range
0 - 60 mphFalses
WLTP - CO2177 g/km
By Jonathan Crouch
Subaru's Impreza in MK5 'GK/GT'-series form brought four wheel drive traction within the affordable reach of family buyers who neither want or need any kind of SUV. Sold between 2017 and 2022, it was a conventional Focus-sized family hatch with very unconventional engineering, with a standard Symmetrical AWD system mated to Lineartronic auto transmission and a pair of uniquely-configured petrol Boxer engines. This fifth generation model got a more sophisticated chassis, a smarter interior, improved media connectivity and class-leading standards of camera-driven safety kit. Despite that, it's still not a package likely to suit everyone, but it'll perfectly suit those in search of something more seasonally capable and just that little bit different in this segment.
5dr hatch (1.6, 2.0 petrol [SE])
Let's imagine this: your home's up an unmade track and every year during the colder months, your little family hatchback struggles up it. Sometimes though, it doesn't and you have to abandon the thing at the bottom and walk. With the kids. And the shopping. The obvious answer is to get one of those small SUVs with four-wheel drive, but you haven't done that because you've found that one of those will be very expensive, both to buy and to run. Clunky to drive too - and rather over-the-top for what you actually need. Perhaps what you actually need is something like a Subaru Impreza. Maybe the fifth generation 'GK/GT'-series version, launched late in 2017. As you can see from the pictures, this isn't an SUV. It's not even one of those trendy Crossover models you see so often these days, cars that seem to promise 4WD capability but usually don't deliver it. No, for someone in the situation we've just described, this is instead a means of affordable family transport that delivers everything you need - and nothing you don't. Aside from hot hatches and pricey premium brand models, it's the only C-segment family hatchback you can buy from the 2017-2022 period that delivers its power to all four wheels, yet on paper at least, there seem to be few compromises to make for that kind of all-weather capability. True, it's not particularly cheap to buy, but you'll be paying no more than you would for a well specified version of a similarly-sized 2WD Focus, Astra or Golf-class rival. And getting yourself a tougher, more durable product. Which is here a much more sophisticated one too. This MK5 design was from launch pretty much new from the ground up - the grounding point in question being a stiffer, more sophisticated Global Platform that Subaru apparently spent over a billion dollars developing for all its mid-sized models. These underpinnings allowed the development team behind this model to deliver far higher standards in terms of on-tarmac ride, refinement and handling, all areas in which previous versions of this car rather struggled. These were let down by rather plasticky cabin design too, so that was also hugely upgraded and embellished with a state-of-the-art infotainment system. And Subaru from launch was claiming Volvo-style standards of safety, thanks to this car's included 'EyeSight' package of camera-driven safety systems. In addition, the engines from thisMK5 model's introduction were basically all-new, both of them petrol-powered and as standard, mated to the company's smooth Lineartronic automatic transmission. They were still of Subaru's unique 'Boxer' configuration though - that didn't change. Plus original buyers got a lot of extra standard features that they'd have had to pay extra for if they'd chosen a more conventional obvious rival. But does it all add up on the used market? That's what we're here to find out.
What You Get
The look of this fifth generation Impreza model evolved into something a little classier and less ruggedly sensible, but it'll still be pretty familiar to those who know their Subarus. Those who don't will find a smart but unremarkable five-door hatchback body shape that in this 'GK/GT'-series form was 10mm lower and 35mm wider. Up front, you get the brand's usual hawk-eye headlamps but for this MK5 model, they gained full-LED technology and neat outer daytime running light strips. The familiar central hexagon grille is smartly detailed, as are the lower chrome-trimmed corner cut-outs that house the standard fog lights. Plus you get sharp creases that run the length of the bonnet in an attempt to express a sense of stability. And inside up-front? Well this interior might not immediately bring to mind premium brand standards of quality - some of the switchgear's a bit cheap-looking - but overall, it's a huge improvement over the previous generation model thanks to copious use of soft-touch plastic and nice touches like a silver mid-level trimming strip that extends into carbon fibre-style panels around the door pulls. In this part of the interior, the cabin's 29mm wider than the previous model too. Perhaps the most important development here though, lay with the changes made to the centre-dash infotainment screen, which sits higher up the fascia than before, grew in size to 8-inches and uses a far classier user interface. As you'd expect, it's the portal from which you access the six-speaker DAB stereo and the usual 'phone and media features - though not any kind of satellite navigation set-up. In the rear, the long back doors open wide for easier access and once you're inside, you feel the benefit of this generation model's 25mm of extra wheelbase length. There's 26mm more leg room than there was in the previous version of this car, meaning that current Focus class standards can be matched in this respect. Knee room is decent too, aided by the prominent inverted curve shape adopted for the front seatbacks. As usual in this segment, three adults can only be accommodated at a squash but thanks to 36mm more body width in this MK5 model, a trip of kids will be fine and a pair of fully-grown folk should be able to make themselves comfortable on all but the longest journeys. Raise the rear hatch and you'll find revealed a competitive 385-litre space (5-litres more than before). That's more than you get in a Focus and it's similar to the capacity of a Golf, but it's well behind what you'd find in some other class contenders like Skoda's Octavia. If you push forward the 60/40 split-folding seatbacks, the load area revealed isn't totally flat, but it is as spacious as most owners will need it to be, 1,275-litres in size.
What You Pay
Please contact us for an exact up-to-date valuation.
What to Look For
Most Impreza owners in our survey seemed very happy with their cars: Subaru models tend to have an impressive reliability record. However, there are a few issues we came across. There were some issues relating to starting, usually related either to dead key fob batteries, a dead 12V battery, corrosion on battery terminals, a bad alternator, a clogged fuel filter, broken starter motors, broken fuses, an empty petrol tank, an immobiliser error, or faults in the electrical system. The broken starter motor issue is probably the most expensive one to fix but you are unlikely to come across that because the average life of the starter motor is between 100,000 and 150,000 miles, though its life would have been shortened if the engine has been started very frequently. If when you turn the key to start the engine of your Impreza, you hear a clicking sound, that's the sound of a bad starter motor. As for general things, will look beneath the car for any signs of off-roading damage and that it isn't caked in mud that will trap moisture and lead to rust. We've heard of engine valve springs fatiguing over time and brake light switches failing, which prevents the brake lights from illuminating. Look out for rear parking damage too because rear parking sensors weren't standard. Check for scratches on the alloy wheels and insist upon a fully stamped-up service history. Ensure that all the relevant fluids, including those for the four-wheel drive system and the CVT gearbox, have been changed according to manufacturer recommendations.
(approx based on a 2019 Impreza 1.6 Lineartronic ex Vat) Spare parts are priced a degree or three above what you'd expect to fork out for Volkswagen or Audi bits but Subaru counters that you'll need to buy them less often. An air filter is around £20. An oil filter is around £10-£13. Wiper blades are in the £9-£35 bracket. Front brake pads are around £49-£77: rears around £68-£114 bracket. Front brake discs are around £80;rear discs are around £171.
On the Road
For some time before 2017, the 'Impreza' badge had designated an unassuming, modestly performing petrol-powered five-door hatchback notable only for its unique provision of AWD. So it is with this fifth generation model, which at first glance served up a recipe that didn't initially seem very different to that which was provided before. Same flat four Boxer engine. Same CVT auto gearbox. Same Symmetrical 4WD system. Bear with us though, because radical changes really were made here. The most significant one relates to this MK5 version's stiffer and much more rigid 'Subaru Global Platform', which reduces body roll, improves refinement and allows for a suspension set-up that, though still a little firm, allows this car to ride poor paved surfaces with a much greater degree of supple confidence. The steering was more responsive too. It was all enough to make the driving dynamics of this Subaru far more competitive against more ordinary front-driven Focus-class rivals. As we've said, the engines are the usual units that Subaru specialises in - flat four Boxer powerplants, with choice in this MK5 design being limited to a couple of petrol units only available mated to the brand's Lineartonic automatic gearbox. There's a choice of either a 114PS 1.6 or the 156PS 2.0-litre variant we'd prefer, an engine able to return 42.8mpg on the combined cycle and 152g/km (both NEDC figures). Both powerplants were re-worked with higher compression ratios and much lower levels of internal friction that reduced the level of the usual familiar 'Boxer' thrum. They were only offered in combination with the brand's well-proved Symmetrical 4WD system, which is a permanent set-up - in contrast to the kind of part-time 4x4 package you'd get on a comparably priced 4WD compact SUV.
Subaru can draw upon a long tradition of solidly built, multi-purpose all-wheel drive cars. The issue though in the family hatchback segment is all about packaging and presenting this clever engineering in a way that's accessible and appealing to mainstream customers. This fifth generation Impreza made a much better job of doing that. Of course if you don't really need 4WD, then as before the charms of this Subaru will almost certainly still pass you by. You'll question its slightly higher running costs and restricted model line-up. Even then though, you might still value the winter peace of mind and dry weather grip delivered by the clever Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive system. So what if it's a non-conformist choice with a cabin that fights the fashionable trends and a distinctive Boxer engine spinning away beneath the bonnet? What matters is that ultimately, there's nothing else quite like it.
Whilst every effort is made to verify and ensure the accuracy of the data, the information should only be used as a guide and no purchasing decision should be made without verification of the data from either the manufacturer or franchised dealer. Our offers may be on a different model year to that represented by this data and so specification may differ accordingly.
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Based on 48 month contract and 5,000 miles per year. Initial rental of £4,060.23 followed by 47 monthly rentals of £451.14. Processing fee £298.80 Inc VAT. All prices Inc VAT . Excess mileage charges may apply if contract mileage is exceeded. Fair wear and tear charges may apply at end of contract.
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