The flow of technology from the elite, ultra-pricey class of cars to those that the rest of us can afford is happening at a quicker rate than we’ve seen before.
Features like those that have brought many of today’s cars to the brink of becoming fully autonomous driving machines were fresh and exciting on a few very special (and expensive) cars only a couple of years ago. Today much of this technology is showing up on very affordable cars all in the interest of making our lives as drivers safer and easier.
Those same high-end brands have been embracing another technology lately – one that’s not so new, but has become the overwhelming preference of Canadian consumers shopping in the luxury-car market: all-wheel drive. AWD provides extra traction in wet or slippery driving conditions, making it seem like a necessity here in the Great White North. What’s more, it provides drivers with peace of mind and added confidence, for better or for worse (all-wheel drive won’t help a car stop any quicker when driven beyond the laws of physics in a snowstorm without proper winter tires).
It’s strange then that all-wheel drive hasn’t become as prolific on affordable cars as some of the other features.
For Subaru, putting all-wheel drive in their full line (BRZ sports car notwithstanding which is a step-child from a fling with Toyota) is just another day at the office. It was more than a decade ago the folks at Subaru decided to ditch the entry-level front-wheel-drive offerings from their product lineup in favour of AWD all the time. It gave the company a unique marketing proposition that has resonated well with consumers as shown in the dramatic increase in Subaru’s sales in North America.
Subaru’s Impreza has enjoyed the distinction of being Canada’s lowest priced all-wheel-drive car for a couple of years, and for 2015 that continues with the base four-door Impreza coming in at $19,995. For that price, frugal buyers are getting good value with not only solid mechanical components (Subaru has a reputation for durability on par with the other top-tier Japanese car makers), but also necessities like power windows, cruise control and air conditioning. It even comes with an infotainment system featuring a 6.1-inch touchscreen, rear camera display and requisite smartphone connectivity, all as standard equipment.
Our test car represents the other end of the Impreza spectrum with a fully loaded hatchback model dressed in Limited trim and featuring upscale accouterments like leather seating and dual zone automatic climate control. The leather helps make the Impreza’s cabin a slightly more luxurious place, but there is still a lot of shiny, hard plastic to cheapen the overall impression.