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Subaru Impreza gets smarter, safer and sharper in Japan

30 August 2019 - Autoblog

Subaru Impreza gets smarter, safer and sharper in Japan

Odds are the American-spec model will receive most of the same changes

Subaru quietly gave the sedan and hatchback variants of the Impreza a mid-cycle update in Japan. Both body styles now wear a sharper front-end design, and they receive additional tech features.

The current, fifth-generation Impreza made its global debut at the 2017 New York Auto Show. The 2020 model introduced online in Japan stands out with a revised front fascia characterized by a wide air dam that stretches the entire width of the bumper, chrome-look L-shaped trim on either end of it, and a revised grille. The changes made to the rear fascia are largely limited to tweaked lights. All told, you need to be an eagle-eyed car-spotter to tell the face-lifted model apart from its predecessor.

Buyers seeking a sportier Impreza will be disappointed, Subaru is still taking its time developing the next WRX, but those who want a more high-tech car that helps them drive will be thrilled. Every Japanese-spec Impreza regardless of trim level is now equipped with EyeSight Touring Assist, a suite of electronic driving aids that handles accelerating, braking and steering in a wide range of conditions. These features don't make the Impreza autonomous in any way, and the driver still needs to stay focused on the road ahead, but they help when driving becomes tedious.

There are other, more minor upgrades on the menu. The door mirrors now tilt down when the driver selects reverse, for example, and Subaru added a front-view camera.

In Japan, the Impreza carries on with either a 1.6-liter flat-four rated at 115 horsepower, or a 2.0-liter flat-four with 154 horses on tap. The entry-level model is front-wheel drive, surprisingly, but all-wheel drive is standard on higher trims. Regardless, both engines shift through a continuously variable transmission (CVT) that offers seven pre-programmed virtual gears. The Impreza lost its manual transmission in its home country years ago, though the company's American division continues to let buyers give a shift.

Subaru hasn't announced plans to make similar changes to the American-spec model and tells us "it's too early for us to release information" about that, but it's not too far-fetched to speculate we'll get an updated Impreza sooner rather than later. We might see the model break cover during the 2019 edition of the Los Angeles Auto Show in November, and it could arrive in showrooms during the 2020 model year.

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