Inside Story: 2008 Subaru Impreza  subaru inside story
2008 Subaru Impreza. Click image to enlarge


Article and photos by Michael Clark

Photo Gallery: 2008 Subaru Impreza

How do you take the Subaru out of the Subaru, without taking out the Subaru that people want in their Subaru?

That ‘Snap!’ you just heard was probably your brain cracking into two neat halves. The easier question goes something like this; how do you ditch the looks from the House of Quirk, and keep the sensibility of the Subie all-wheel-drive system in the new Impreza? The answer is the freshly-stamped skin of the Oh-Eight model. Purists may lament the obvious loss of the six-star DNA, but the cold harsh reality is that chromosomal mix wasn’t exactly setting the sales floor on fire, even with snapshots of STi’s flying through rally courses.

The 2.5i series is the bread and butter of the Subaru entry level sandwich, starting at a mere MSRP of $20,695, with the juicier equipment on the Sport Package. Subie is still the company that doesn’t quite grasp pricing; it keeps going down every year. This week’s automatic Sport Package is but a mere $24,295 in MSRP bucks. Let’s see if it’s money well spent for your daily seat dent.


Cabin

Inside Story: 2008 Subaru Impreza  subaru inside story
Inside Story: 2008 Subaru Impreza  subaru inside story
2008 Subaru Impreza. Click image to enlarge

Controls: The steering wheel is the familiar, and thick, Subie wonder circle, with controls for audio and cruise control. Column is tilt, with the telescopic feature only available on the WRX. The Sport Package includes the windshield wiper de-icer matrix, which toasts the sweepers in their ‘Park’ position. Gauge faces are backlit, more or less, in a very dim red glow. The top-mount clock display also shows outside temperature, and average fuel economy. The power mirrors receive heat, while the power windows include an Auto-Down feature only. The parking brake lever seems too close to the driver, with a position more intent on providing cupholder real estate. HVAC uses simple twist-dial controls. The automatic shift includes a Sport mode, with manu-gate. While there is no Auto-headlamp position specified on the stalk, the lamps can be left in the ‘On’ position, turning off automatically when the key is removed. Wipers include a handy ‘Pull’ sweep for mist removal; it feels more natural.

Inside Story: 2008 Subaru Impreza  subaru inside story
Inside Story: 2008 Subaru Impreza  subaru inside story
2008 Subaru Impreza. Click image to enlarge

The fuel door release and trunk popper lever are found on the floor, near the driver, with a keyed lock-out for the trunk.

Convenience: Front and rear door pockets sport bottle-sized holders, with no additional rear voids, and no rear centre armrest to put them in. The front passenger seatback contains a thin storage pocket, with a smidge of expandability. The front cup holders are reasonably sized for most bottles and double-doubles. However, the Wiggle Factor is high, with no cinch mechanisms. The centre console box opens to reveal a 12-volt DC port, as well as the auxiliary audio input jack. Speaking of audio, the Sport Package includes a 6-CD upgrade with premium speaks and tweets. Dual visors possess mirrors, with no direct lighting. Ambient blue lighting is used to illuminate the console cavity below the HVAC, where a second 12-volt DC port resides. The glove box is reasonably-sized, and lockable.

Seats: It’s fun on toasty buns for the Impreza Sport Package, with two-step front heated seats at work. The driver’s seat possesses a manual height adjustment lever. A lumbar bladder doesn’t appear on any Impreza package. The upholstery is a velour-style weave, with an affinity for dog hair.

Inside Story: 2008 Subaru Impreza  subaru inside story
2008 Subaru Impreza. Click image to enlarge

Fit and finish: There are zero issues for tolerances within the cabin. Plastics are hard, but tasteful.

Safety features: Even the base Impreza receives dual frontal, front seat side, and front and rear side curtain airbags. Subaru’s roadside assistance occurs for three years from date of purchase, with no mileage restriction.


Spare/Trunk/Cargo

Cargo/trunk size: 320 litres of cargo area sounds like a lot, until you notice the trade-off for that extra axle underfoot.

Inside Story: 2008 Subaru Impreza  subaru inside story
Inside Story: 2008 Subaru Impreza  subaru inside story
2008 Subaru Impreza. Click image to enlarge

The trunk floor takes a sharp upward climb at the middle section, to accommodate the extra mechanicals. Lining material is adequate. Rear taillight bulb replacement looks like a dealer visit, with no easy way behind the trunk material panels.

Versatility: The Impreza trunk performs all of its grocery bag stunts without a net, with no discernible points for cargo hook placement. Folding the seats forward is done from the passenger cabin, with a pull- tether system that has a grab loop, to keep it from falling behind the seat. Child seat anchors are easily accessed and clearly marked.

Spare tire: A foam biscuit hides the temporary-style rubber biscuit. Even more foam contains the jack assembly, for zero rattles. The foam pieces possess cavities that could be used for storage of valuables.


Engine

Inside Story: 2008 Subaru Impreza  subaru inside story
2008 Subaru Impreza. Click image to enlarge

Displacement: Hmmm… this engine sounds a little flat. It should; the 2.5-litre mill is a boxer, or ‘flat’ four cylinder.

Fluid fill points: THIS is how it’s done! Not one bad fill point, with clear markings on each. Even the oil fill point has an elongated neck, to ensure the dinosaur squeezings go where they should.

Ease of access: The only piece that even qualifies as an engine cover is the thin plastic strip that guards the top of the belt array. The boxer four is open for business,

Inside Story: 2008 Subaru Impreza  subaru inside story
2008 Subaru Impreza. Click image to enlarge

with the common replacement parts within reach, and sight. Even the driveline components should require minimal removal labour. Hood is held aloft by twin struts.

Headlamps: Fairly accessible on the driver’s side, with some definite removal work to access the passenger side pod.


Clarkey Rating

The Impreza will never have an issue attracting customers in need of a little more grip in the no-stick. While there is always going to be sniggly bits, (see above) the value proposition for Canadian consumers is too strong to ignore. I guess I must be (wait for it) ‘Imprezed’. Four and a half stars for this Subie.

Next week: Stuttgart smart? It’s Porsche time!

Connect with Autos.ca