Ten under in the corners, twenty over whenever there’s a passing lane. It’s verse one, chapter one of the Rental RV Bible; not so much “Do Unto Others…” as “Annoy Everyone Constantly”. Dawdle along in the curvy bits, sure, that’s soaking in the scenery – but why must they all shout “Punch it Chewie!” and floor the throttle every time there’s a chance to pass?
If you’ve got plenty of poke under the hood, you can give them the steely staredown as you go past easily (not that it’ll do any good, as none of these buffoons are paying any attention anyway). Regrettably, this is no WRX, but a humble Impreza hatchback with a modest 148 hp at 6,200 rpm and 145 lb-ft of torque at 4,500 rpm from its 2.0L flat-four and a continuously variable transmission. A boxer engine it may be, but it’s a bantamweight, and with the combined weight of four passengers and cargo for a week-long road trip, straight-line zip is no left cross.
Even so, by dint of careful planning and paying attention to when the short passing sections are coming, I manage to get out ahead of the behemoths and fill that big Subaru windshield with some spectacular landscape (also bugs). Vancouver to Calgary and back again, straight through the Rocky Mountains with a couple of detours, both planned and unplanned. Saddle up.
The first leg of our journey is but a stunted one, a simple get-out-of-town pass so that the following morning will be spent making distance rather than fighting traffic. Getting up earlier than everyone else is a given, but getting out the door before the masses descend is not: I have two daughters now – one just a couple of months old, the other nearly three – and morning time is basically the exact opposite of those slow-mo Folger’s commercials. It’s a bit like D-Day at Normandy, except with more poo.
So instead of starting off with the drive, let’s discuss the car. All new back in 2013, the Subaru Impreza recently benefitted from a few mid-cycle updates to address a few complaints about the car. The new face is very slightly more stylish (or as close to stylish as you can get out of a Subaru), and this car is now fitted with the Eyesight suite of technologies – more on those once we’re on the move.
CVT with speed: Test Drive: 2015 Subaru WRX CVT
There’s also been some reprogramming of the CVT for behaviour that apes a conventional transmission, and the inclusion of a greater amount of sound-deadening material. A little more polish, you might say, to allow this quirky all-wheel-drive machine to make for a more-appealing choice when placed next to mainstream rivals.
However, all the things I initially like about this car are simple, practical stuff. For instance, when compared to the Ford Focus I most recently drove, the Impreza’s rear trunk area is both larger and squarer, and the pull-top luggage cover is easier to remove (just compress one end and out it pops). While the child seat attachment points are these ill-covered holes in the seat foam that get instantly stretched out of shape, it’s one of the easiest cars for installing a car seat.