All-new 2024 Subaru Impreza RS makes you turn around
CASEY WILLIAMS | Auto Reviewer
My daughter and I are finishing our avocado toast when she asks if we can go to the bookstore. When a 9-year-old wants to put down screens and read, parents dare not resist. But since we’re in the 2024 Subaru Impreza RS, I suggest we take the long way. She can pick the music. Giggles and nods abound.
While she’s dialing in “The 10 Spot,” I crank the RS onto the freeway on-ramp and watch her smile grow.
Back in the spring, I drove the RS, based on the redesigned Impreza hatchback, through California wine country near Paso Robles. Its solid structure, crisp responses and practical cabin made great first impressions. Back home, I wondered if it would be as enjoyable on roads I know well, whether strafing fields and pastures or taking my daughter to piano lessons.
2024 Subaru Impreza RS
Five-passenger, AWD Hatchback
• Multi-talented chassis
• Tech-laden interior
• Standard AWD
• Tame exterior design
• No manual RS
• Marginal power
Powertrain: 2.5-liter I4, CVT
Output: 182hp/178 lb.-ft. torque
Suspension f/r: Ind/Ind
Wheels f/r: 18-inch/18-inch alloy
Brakes f/r: disc/disc
Fuel economy: 26/33 mpg city/hwy
Assembly: Gunma, Japan
Base/As-tested price: $22,795/$28,975
Back in the café, I’m reminded how this all-new model does not look dramatically different from the outgoing Impreza. Sure, the RS package drives between Sport and WRX, but all Imprezas are distinguished by wider grilles and more muscular fender forms. I especially like the 18-inch dark alloy wheels, black trim and optional Oasis Blue paint exclusive to RS (though, ours is red).
Notice RS logos that incorporate horizontally opposed piston heads in reference to Subaru’s Boxer engines. It’s all very cool.
While this car looks sporty, it is also very practical. The body shell is shared with the Crosstrek, making it adept at supporting active lifestyles with a wide hatch, fold-down rear seats and crossbar mounting points on the roof for kayaks and bicycles. Heated cloth seats with red trim and alloy pedals add allure.
Technology is enhanced by a new tablet-sized infotainment touchscreen plus wireless Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and console charging. Crank up Harman Kardon audio. Safety is enhanced by a new three-camera EyeSight system to better employ automatic emergency braking, lane keep assist and new crash-avoidance steering.
The RS employs Subaru’s 2.5-liter “Boxer” four-cylinder engine developing 182 horsepower and 178 lb.-ft. of torque. It connects to standard all-wheel-drive through a continuously variable automatic transmission, which I don’t love, but it can be paddle-shifted through eight pre-set ratios.
There’s no manual. Fuel economy is a frugal 26/33-MPG city highway.
As we trade the comfortable ride on cruising Interstates for undulating two-lanes connecting small towns, plus a couple of detours to flex the chassis, I rediscover the joy I felt in California. This car’s suspension is near magical in its ability to go from a compliant commuter to one that grabs curves by the scruff. Tip into a corner and you notice how the horizontally-opposed engine keeps weight balanced low in the chassis, torque-vectoring all-wheel-drive gently rotates the car to sharpen corners and steering provides precise feedback.
It does very sports car things without any penalty during daily use.
It’s said that if you don’t turn around and look at your car as you walk away, you’re driving the wrong car. As we walk into the bookstore — over 60 miles later — I look back. The RS’ crossover utility is matched with sassy style and competent performance — an uncompromising driver’s car that enjoys a little backpacking.
Imprezas start at a very affordable $22,795 and rising to just $28,975 for the RS.
Send comments to Casey at AutoCasey@aol.com; follow him on YouTube @AutoCasey. n