Subaru Impreza & Volvo C30
By Kelly Foss, MyCarData.com
The new Impreza is the compact car in the Subaru stable. Though popular in its previous form, the totally new 2102 Impreza is improved in virtually every respect.
The Impreza is offered either as a 4- door sedan or a 5-door hatch for the 2012 model year. The Impreza differs from other compact cars in a number of areas. Because all Subarus come standard with all-wheel-drive systems their approach is somewhat different from other tender-foot compacts like Corolla or Civic. Subaru presents its vehicles and brand in more of a rugged, outdoorsy manner. Consequently, styling has to share the stage with utility in the Subaru world.
Having said that, the new Impreza sedan is the most stylish and striking looking Subaru ever, but don’t let that fool you. Just below the surface there’s a car that’s ready, willing and able to get dirty at a moment’s notice. The 5-door hatch looks more like the traditional Subaru off-roader. It’s the Swiss Army Knife of the Impreza duo. According to Subaru, the 5-door hatch represents 64 percent of Impreza sales, which is not surprising.
The new Impreza is about the same size as the previous model yet is totally different. The wheelbase has been lengthened so there is more interior space. More high strength steel is found in the car so it’s actually more rigid and lighter.
Safety systems have been upgraded and they now include a driver’s knee airbag. The new Impreza has across the board 5 Star safety ratings and has been rated as a “Top Safety Pick.”
There is a totally new 2.0 liter 4 cylinder Boxer engine in the Impreza. Subaru’s “Boxer” engines are unique in that they are horizontally opposed or “flat” engines with cylinders on each side of the block in separate banks. This new engine produces 148 horsepower but the big news is that fuel has shot up over 30 percent to a 27 city and 36 mpg highway rating.
Though there are some vehicles in this class that have a 40 mpg highway rating, they are not equipped with a standard all-wheel-drive system. The difference in fuel expense — assuming driving 15,000 miles a year and paying $3.50 per gallon — is only about 50 cents a day or a penny a mile. If you want this car, don’t let cost difference in fuel economy change your mind.
My Impreza 2.0i Sport Limited test vehicle was very pleasant to drive. It was roomy, had comfortable seating and managed to deliver both a nice ride and responsive handling. It had the CVT automatic transmission plus Option Package 63 which included a moonroof and a navigation system. The powerful advantage of the 5-door hatch is the flexible cargo space.
The Impreza is a small car that manages to do a number of different things very well. Subarus have a reputation for reliability and the price is attractive too.
The Volvo C30 was introduced a few years ago and quite frankly, it’s a vehicle that has been overlooked by the public to a great extent. Perhaps it’s a car that is actually ahead of its time. Because of current market demands, it’s the kind of transportation that buyers are looking for today.
The C30 was originally designed to be sporty and fun — which it is — but there is more to this car than just that. Many buyers today are showing strong preference for premium small cars with upscale features. Sounds like the C30 to me.
C30’s contain all the desirable attributes that Volvo is known for. It is very solid and has lots of structural body protection. Though compact in size, it has the weight and heft of a midsize vehicle. Over a week of driving I never heard a squeak, rattle or moan from the car. All of Volvo’s safety systems are present in this vehicle too.
The interior is very comfortable and roomy for this class of car… in the front seat at least. This 2-door hatchback has reasonably roomy rear seats but it requires some agility and flexibility to get in and out of them. I think most people would just fold the rear seat backs flat and have a larger cargo area. The interior is very quiet for a small car and it drives and feels larger than its dimension.
Upscale interior features include navigation, moonroof, power seats with memory, keyless entry and a blind spot view system. The premium sound package includes a 10 speaker surround-sound capability which delivers the aural goods quite nicely.
Driving the C30 is really enjoyable. It’s composed in city driving yet loves a winding road. My test car was equipped with the R-Design trim. It possessed both a comfortable ride and superior road manners.
Sculpted and dynamic are words used to describe this car. The C30 is definitely not just another me-too vehicle. It has very interesting lines and design elements. Even my vanilla white test car attracted lots of curious looks. The rear glass cargo hatch is a unique and elegant feature.
The C30 is powered by Volvo’s turbocharged 2.5 liter 5 cylinder engine. This potent powerplant fully harvests the benefit of Volvo’s long experience with turbocharged engines. It has pleasing power at all speeds whether mated to the 6 speed manual or 5 speed automatic transmission. The EPA estimated 31 highway mpg and 24 overall average matches my drive experience exactly.
A unique Polestar Performance package provides a factory designed engine- tuning capability which uses electronics to extract more power from the engine with no penalty in fuel economy. It boosts the already pleasing 227 horsepower to an even better 250 horsepower rating.
With appealing premium compact cars coming into the market, Volvo already is where other manufacturers are striving to be.
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