For 2006, Subaru’s Impreza line-up is redesigned, with new styling, enhanced safety features and more power.
All models receive a three-section, mesh-type grille, similar to the styling introduced on the 2006 B9 Tribeca, which the company says is inspired by its aircraft heritage. There are new headlights with smoke-tinted lenses and new taillight clusters. The sedans receive wide-body front fenders, the wagons have their own flared fender design, and all models receive an aluminum hood.
The naturally-aspirated 2.5-litre engine now uses Subaru’s i-Active Valve Lift system, with a horsepower rating of 173, up from 165 in 2005. The WRX receives a larger 2.5-litre turbocharged engine, which increases horsepower to 230 from 227 in 2005, and torque to 235 lb-ft, up from 217 lb-ft. Both engines are horizontally-opposed “boxer” engines, and all models use symmetrical all-wheel-drive.
The five-speed manual on the 2.5i and Outback Sport uses a viscous-coupling limited-slip locking differential to distribute power 50/50 front to rear. WRX models are also equipped with a viscous-type limited-slip rear differential. The optional automatic transmission on all models uses an electronically-managed, continuously-variable transfer clutch that distributes torque based on acceleration, deceleration and traction.
All models also receive a dual-stage airbag system, and the 2.5i and Outback Sport now have the front seat side impact airbags that were previously standard only on the WRX.
Features on all models include anti-lock brakes with electronic brake distribution, air conditioning, power windows and locks, heated mirrors, CD player, tilt column, outside temperature gauge and variable intermittent wipers.
The 2.5i sedan and Sport wagon include fog lights, auto-off headlights, 16-inch five-spoke alloy wheels, cruise control, manual climate control, six-way manual driver’s seat and tinted windows. The wagon also includes a rear fixed intermittent wiper and roof rails. Wagon models have a 60/40 split flat-folding rear seat, while sedans have a folding centre rear armrest with trunk pass-through.
The Outback Sport wagon – not to be confused with the larger, Legacy-based Outback wagon – adds projector-beam halogen fog lights, 16-inch seven-spoke alloy wheels, rear step pad, and bodyside cladding.
The WRX sedan and wagon add 17-inch alloy wheels, body-coloured mirrors, automatic climate control, aluminum alloy pedals (with the manual transmission), leather-wrapped wheel, six-CD premium audio system with two door tweeters, WRX-embroidered floor mats, engine immobilizer, functional hood scoop and rear spoiler. The WRX sedan adds a power moonroof when the automatic transmission is ordered; it can be added as an option to the five-speed sedan and wagon.
The Impreza is a sturdy machine, with a solid feel that’s never cumbersome, and the extra horsepower adds to its appeal, with a minimum loss of fuel economy over the 2005 models. It’s a lot of technology for the price, especially on the 2.5i models, but the money goes into the drivetrain: the lower-line interiors aren’t always as nice as some under-$20,000 competitors. As with the Tribeca, the new facial styling will have admirers and detractors, but you certainly can’t ignore it. The WRX is still a moderately-priced rush, and while it’s no STI, it’s also $13,500 less.
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