In the “what took so long?” news category, Subaru recently announced that it would start selling a new hybrid Impreza model in Japan next month. With a lineup full of compact and midsize vehicles (most of which have all-wheel drive), Subaru is looking for ways to increase the fuel economy across its lineup, and this hybrid model makes perfect sense.

Currently, the only gasoline-electric hybrid customers can get from Subaru is the 2014 Subaru XV Crosstrek Hybrid, but starting July 10, the Subaru Impreza Sport Hybrid brings Subaru’s hybrid tech to the standard version of the entry-level hatchback. Since the XV Crosstrek is essentially just a lifted version of the Impreza hatchback with a little extra body cladding, creating this new model was probably more of a challenge for Subaru’s marketing team than its engineers.

Even as conventional cars push the limits of efficiency, hybrids should continue to play a bigger role in the automotive industry as automakers look to maximize the overall efficiency of their fleets. In Subaru’s case, the Impreza Sport Hybrid marks just the second hybrid in its lineup, but a more advanced plug-in hybrid is planned by 2018.

Continue reading to learn more about the Subaru Impreza Sport Hybrid.

Exterior

2016 Subaru Impreza Sport Hybrid High Resolution Exterior Wallpaper quality
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2016 Subaru Impreza Sport Hybrid High Resolution Exterior
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2016 Subaru Impreza Sport Hybrid High Resolution Exterior
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It seems somewhat contradictory for a car to wear both “Sport” and “Hybrid” in its name, but Subaru Impreza Sport Hybrid definitely pulls this off with a fairly aggressive appearance, unlike most hybrids currently on the market. The car does get the quirky hybrid elements such as clear taillights, silver trim on the rocker panels and the “hybrid” badges, but the Impreza Sport Hybrid just looks sporty with its restyled front fascia and blacked-out wheels.

There are also none of hybrid-specific aero-tuned features on this Impreza, like a blocked-off grille or cheese-grater wheels. In fact, the tires and wheels on this hybrid are slightly wider than the non-hybrid car for the “best balance between grip and fuel economy,” and the multi-spoke wheels are sporty enough that they would look just as great on a WRX.

Interior

2016 Subaru Impreza Sport Hybrid Interior
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Subaru stayed a little more conservative when it came to the interior of the Impreza Sport Hybrid, with model-specific features such as blue cabin accents and piano-black and metallic trim throughout the cabin. There are two trim levels of the Impreza Sport Hybrid, with the top 2.0i S model coming standard with upscale features such as a fine microfiber material called UltraSuede with blue contrast stitching. The Subaru Impreza Sport Hybrid also comes standard with Subaru EyeSight.

Drivetrain

2016 Subaru Impreza Sport Hybrid High Resolution Exterior
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Subaru has not released all of the details for the new Impreza Sport Hybrid, but the drivetrain should be the same as what is currently found in the XV Crosstrek Hybrid. This pairs a 2.0-liter four-cylinder Boxer engine with a continuously variable transmission (CVT) that uses an integrated electric motor.

The drivetrain should be the same as what is currently found in the XV Crosstrek Hybrid.

Total system output is rated at 160 horsepower and 163 pound-feet of torque, and the setup allows for all-electric driving for “short distances” up to 25 mph with the added benefit of auto stop-start technology.

In Japan, Subaru promises that the Impreza Sport Hybrid will return 20.4 km/liter on the Japanese driving cycle, and while this doesn’t directly convert to an EPA-rated mpg figure, it does represent a figure of about 48 mpg.

That being said, the current XV Crosstrek Hybrid gets 30 mpg city and 34 mpg highway, which isn’t that much better than a standard (both models get the same 31 mpg rating for combined driving), but the Impreza Sport Hybrid should get slightly better with its lower ride height contributing to better aero.

Prices

The new Subaru Impreza Sport Hybrid will be priced at 2,505,600 yen (which converts to $20,266), which marks a significant price hike over the standard Impreza Sport hatchback that costs 1,598,400 yen (or around $12,929).

Competition

Toyota Prius Liftback

2014 Toyota Prius - Driven High Resolution Exterior
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Just mention a hybrid hatchback, and chances are the Toyota Prius Liftback steals the conversation. Since its debut, the Prius has become the posterchild for hybrids (both in the U.S. and abroad), and it’s easy to see why. The dedicated hybrid has a design that optimizes aerodynamics and a drivetrain that squeezes every last mpg from the gas tank. For this reason, there is nothing on sale right now that can touch the Prius’ 50-mpg combined EPA rating as well as its affordable starting price of $24,200.

Read our full review of the Toyota Prius Liftback here.

Volkswagen Golf

2015 Volkswagen Golf High Resolution Exterior
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The Prius might be the ultimate hybrid, but when talking about a diverse global hatchback that can combine as much fun and better fuel economy, there is perhaps none better than the Volkswagen Golf. On the fuel economy front, there are, of course, the Golf TDI and all-electric e-Golf , but the Golf still packs quite a punch with performance versions like the 2015 Volkswagen Golf GTI and 2016 Volkswagen Golf R.

Read our full review of the Volkswagen Golf here.

Conclusion

2016 Subaru Impreza Sport Hybrid High Resolution Exterior
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Although creating a non-crossover version of the XV Crosstrek Hybrid was probably a no-brainer, the fact that it took two model years for the de-crossovered Impreza hybrid to show up probably isn’t a good sign for this car ever making it to the U.S. That being said, Subaru has yet to announce any plans for the Impreza Sport Hybrid outside of the Japanese market, so there’s always a chance… especially if this model sells well in Japan. At launch, Subaru is expecting to sell about 500 of the Impreza Sport Hybrid hatchbacks per month.

  • Leave it
    • No plans for sales outside of Japan
    • What took so long?
    • XV Crosstrek Hybrid fuel economy isn’t great

Press Release

Fuji Heavy Industries Ltd. (FHI), the manufacturer of Subaru automobiles, will launch an “Impreza Sport Hybrid” on July 10, 2015, through Subaru dealerships in Japan.

2016 Subaru Impreza Sport Hybrid High Resolution Exterior
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The new Impreza Sport Hybrid is the second fun-to-drive hybrid from Subaru, following on from the Subaru XV Hybrid launched in 2013. The motor assist function offers smooth, linear acceleration, which is teamed with sharp, sporty handling to bring out the distinctive enjoyment of driving a hybrid model while achieving fuel economy of just 20.4 km/liter (JC08 mode).*1 Designed to make optimum use of the low center of gravity and superior weight balance that characterize Subaru’s unique Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive (AWD) layout, the electric motor and high-voltage batteries of the hybrid version are positioned for superb driveability. The hybrid model further enhances the appeal of the Impreza Sport lineup by embracing Subaru design values to achieve its own sporty, top-quality exterior look and a refined, up-to-the-minute interior style.

Main Features

Hybrid System and Power Unit

Motor assist function facilitates both smooth acceleration and low fuel consumption. Symmetrical AWD layout of Subaru’s unique AWD hybrid system offers superb driveability.
Energy management controls for the hybrid system batteries have been re-engineered to utilize regenerated energy at high speeds. Fuel economy has been enhanced by altering controls to boost regeneration frequency and make active use of battery power.
Specially designed Lineartronic continuously variable transmission (CVT) incorporates hybrid drive motor. Reduced friction and modified torque converter fluid characteristics have enhanced fuel economy while providing more direct driving sensation.

Hybrid-Spec EyeSight

EyeSight*2 is included as standard equipment on all grades. Coordinated control of the hybrid system and EyeSight enables the Eco-Cruise Control function to make the maximum use of electric vehicle driving and regenerative braking when Adaptive Cruise Control is operating, thereby improving fuel consumption under everyday conditions.

Packaging and Utility

Installing batteries and high-voltage components essential to the hybrid system, including the inverter and DC converter, as a single unit beneath the cargo space secures flat, user-friendly storage for luggage.

2016 Subaru Impreza Sport Hybrid High Resolution Exterior
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Driveability and Comfort
Suspension settings customized for the Impreza Sport Hybrid ensure that it is fun to drive, achieving the perfect balance of agile sportiness and superior ride comfort.

(1) Handling and Passenger Comfort

Teamed with the superior weight balance of the hybrid system, friction control dampers that enhance initial responsiveness and optimized suspension settings assure feel-good handling in sync with driver intent, together with outstanding ride quality.

(2) Tire Size

The 205/50R17 tires used on the gasoline model have been swapped for slightly wider, larger-diameter 215/50R17 wheels to achieve the very best balance between grip and fuel economy.

(3) Noise Insulation

Coupled with use of hydraulic engine mounts specially designed for the hybrid model, optimum placement and enhancement of sound insulation and absorption materials reduce vibration and noise. The passenger compartment has been designed for quiet and comfort.

Exterior and Interior Styling
Exclusive hybrid-grade styling features a top-quality sporty exterior and an advanced, refined interior.

2016 Subaru Impreza Sport Hybrid High Resolution Exterior
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(1) Exterior

Strongly contoured front end emphasizes the wide and low look exclusive to the hybrid grade, while new large-diameter tires and special side-sill spoilers create a dynamic, accented side view.
Rear end has been designed to embody the distinctive functionality and innovativeness of the hybrid model, featuring a roof-end spoiler to enhance aerodynamics and low-energy consumption LEDs in the rear combination lamps.

(2) Interior

Blue accents exclusive to the hybrid model, piano-black panels, and metallic trim combine to evoke a quality, up-to-the-minute feel.
Top-grade model features silver Ultrasuede*3 seats with blue stitching for even higher quality and refinement. Other popular high-spec features include power seats for the driver and front passenger.

Body Colors
Ice silver metallic, crystal black silica, crystal white pearl,* deep sea-blue pearl, quartz blue pearl, and Venetian red pearl.*
* Available at additional cost of 32,400 yen (including consumption tax).

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