A new work boot

Can a sedan version of a COTY finalist carry the load?

BARRY PARK

CURSE the rise of the SUV. Sales of the jacked-up, high-riding hatches and wagons now comfortably dominate Australiaís newcar landscape, and itís coming at the cost of our once-strong love for traditional passenger vehicles, especially sedans. Down Under is now a marketplace where small cars, such as Subaruís Impreza, need to make a big noise to stand out.

Generation G5 of the Impreza, a 2017 Wheels Car of the Year finalist, has introduced the world to the Subaru Global Platform (SGP): a lighter, stiffer all-new modular chassis that will underpin future models, including plug-in hybrids. COTY testing clearly showed that the SGP is able to reacquaint the driver with something long absent from Subaruís DNA; a level of dynamic prowess for which the Japanese carmaker was once renowned.

A booted version of the Impreza now joins the Wheels garage as a long-termer. Just like the five-door, the G5 sedan introduces a better-looking design featuring much sharper looks than the dowdy cardigan the previous generation wore. Itís something that will help it stand out in what remains a cut-throat segment in Australia, and one where the Subaru-badged contender snares only one in every 20 sales. s The SGPís improvements extend to the inside as well, where Holden Commodorerivalling interior space and comfort mark the Impreza as a genuine cross-shopping alternative to the doomed large sedan.

Weíve already pegged the fitout of our long-termer, the richly equipped 2.0i-S, as the pick of the Impreza litter. This is largely down to the generous equipment list, which includes heated leather seats, LED headlights, a torque-vectoring diff, and stickier 18-inch Yokohama Advan Sport rubber.

It will have a big burden to carry: thereís been a hole in my driveway for a number of years, a space set aside for the 1990s-era bugeyed Impreza Sportback my wife has always dreamed of, but never owned.

That driverís DNA is something Iím keen to explore over the coming months, and given Subaruís renewed interest in rallying in Australia, Iím also keen to extend at least a small part of that testing to gravel surfaces.

Whatís welcome most of all, though, is that generous-sized boot. At 460 litres, the sedanís 115L advantage in luggage capacity over the hatch is bound to come in handy with four children in the brood. bug

LESS IS MORE, IS LESS

The booted version of the Impreza weighs just 5kg less than the hatch, and is $200 cheaper

SUBARU IMPREZA 2.0i-S

Date acquired: July 2017 Price as tested: $28,990 This month: 354km @ 8.9L/100km Overall: 354km @ 8.9L/100km WEEK 4 34 0 0 0 4 9 7 334 44 3 3

Troubled outlook?

One of the technologies we will be keen to test in our new longtermer is EyeSight, Subaruís dual-camera system that scans the road ahead and jumps in to slam on the brakes when it thinks the Impreza is about to crash. Weíre not off to a good start, though, with heavy fog blinding EyeSight and forcing a warning on the dash system was Subaruís windscreen wiper supplier; the wipers work hard to keep the EyeSight cameras clear of any condensation or raindrops. that the systemwas unavailable. We would, however, buy shares in