A little bit of the 2017 Singapore Motor Show, a whole lot of Subaru
“Here all is life and activity,” once exulted 1820s Dutch East Indies governor general Sir Stamford Raffles when he founded the country of Singapore, now known as the “Lion City” and is one of the most successful global financial centers in Asia.
True enough, this writer was witness to the fanfare when the local motoring media visited the island state for a standout vehicle launched at the 2017 Singapore Motor Show, held at the Suntec Convention and Exhibition Centre.
Stealing the show for the 48,000 spectators in attendance was the all-new Subaru Impreza. Winner of the 2016-2017 Japan Car of the Year, this stunner was the pomp’s masterful centerpiece for Motor Image, the exclusive distributor of Subaru vehicles in nine Asian countries.
“The all-new Subaru Impreza features the new Subaru Global Platform that is engineered to make a new type of driving possible. With a host of improvements to its interior, styling, handling performance, and an improved CVT transmission, the new Impreza is set to be the first to pave the way for the next generation of Subaru vehicles to deliver a superior driving experience like no other,” noted Glenn Tan, executive director of Fuji Heavy Industries, Ltd., a long-time partner Tan Chong International Ltd, which has a vehicle assembly in Malaysia and is the mother company of Motor Image.
With the inception of the reolutionary Subaru Global Platform in this fifth-generation Subaru Impreza, the car now delivers an elevated driving experience with less vibration and noise, combined with precise vehicle control.
“We have enhanced the performance of the vehicle in safety, driving and comfort,” said Takuji Dai, corporate VP of Fuji Heavy Industries, Ltd.
According to him, the vehicle had to be designed from scratch to be able to pass the “very tough crash test regulation” in the United States. Increased use of high-tensile steel in the frame structure has resulted in enhanced body strength and a 40-percent increase in collision energy absorption – vastly improving passive safety.
With a unified, single design platform concept put to good use, Subaru’s lineup will further be developed and strengthened, which allows for the brand to plan the main specifications of all vehicle types at one time, offering the flexibility to adjust the different models’ complexities needed in the near future. Hence, a single design concept will allow the brand to produce platform components for multiple models in one production facility, rather than manufacturing them in different factories. With this strategy, Subaru products aspire to become more competitive.
It aims to enhance the basic foundation of Subaru’s technologies such as the boxer engine and all-wheel-drive technology. Thus, the new platform is adaptable not only to gasoline engines but also to hybrid vehicles, plug-in hybrids, electric cars, and other types of alternative power units, future-proofing the next generation of Subaru vehicles
“Aside from the new platform, the various noticeably big improvements are: First, in the engine since we have adapted the 2.0 direct-injection naturally aspirated, second is the transmission since we now have the lightweight CVT, and last is the body weight. It has almost the same weight, but the feeling is light since while we added more body rigidity, we reduced some technology factors,” Dai continued.
In fact, renowned world-record holder Russ Swift was also, well, impressed with the Impreza and shared his sentiments during our interview in the paddock area right before his stunt show.
“This new platform is a revelation. It’s very solid yet very comfortable at the same time. It knows how to get out of a sticky situation and makes my job a lot more (easy),” he enthused. “With this, you just don’t buy a car but an experience and peace of mind.”
Design-wise, the Impreza now sports extended fender flares, a hexagonal grille, and the brand’s iconic C-shape headlights. Inside are intricately sophisticated details like stitching on the instrument panels and an eight-inch infotainment system display – complemented by a spacious cabin.
The vehicle is available in the following variants: 1.6i-S featuring a 1.6-liter port-injection naturally aspirated engine producing 112hp at 5600 rpm, and 2.0i-S with a 2.0-liter direct injection naturally aspirated engine producing 151hp at 6000 rpm. Four-door and five-door options are available for both the 1.6i-S and 2.0i-S.
“For the Philippine market, the 2.0i-S (four-door) will be the first one to be released with the price of P1.380 million,” said Motor Image Pilipinas country manager Gerry Hernandez. “Other variants will follow. With this, we want our products to be distinct.”
Meanwhile, Tan expressed that he wants to bring back the excitement of the brand with the introduction of the latest-generation Impreza. “For this year, we’re targeting about 4,000 unit sales for the Philippine market. And hopefully, the Impreza will add into this,” he divulged.
Confidence in driving
The day after the launch, we were shuttled to Margaret Drive to personally experience the prowess of this all-new Impreza. And indeed, we were nothing short of impressed.
Pitted against the Volkswagen Golf, the Mazda 3 and the Audi A3 in three various makeshift tracks, the Impreza proved that it was notches above in terms of handling, grip on the road, and the solid compact feel of the car. Because of its symmetrical all-wheel drive system, it is able to minimize slip – providing the feeling of safety one needs while out on the road. Personally, I clocked in my best time of 17.34 secs with the Impreza against the Mazda 3 (18.38 secs) and the much powerful Audi A3 (17.47 secs). I luckily also set the best time for my group that day.
Even solely based on that, I’m pretty convinced that the excitement is definitely back.