NEW YORK -- Subaru of America will start selling a roomier, redesigned 2012 Impreza compact this fall.
The automaker, which introduced the fourth-generation of the car today at the New York auto show, has high expectations for the car despite its late entry into the compact car war under way between the redesigned Hyundai Elantra, Ford Focus and Honda Civic.
Subaru believes the Impreza’s expected high fuel economy rating and added back-seat legroom help make it a contender.
“Last year we sold about 264,000 cars (in the United States). This is a vehicle that certainly could get us to 300,000,” said Subaru of America COO Tom Doll.
Subaru estimates the 2012 Impreza will achieve 27 mpg city and 36 mpg highway with a combined rating of 31 mpg.
The 2011 Impreza gets 20 mpg city and 27 mpg highway.
Doll took a swipe at the Focus compact. Ford Motor Co. says the car earns 40 mpg highway, but that’s only the Focus version with a pricey fuel economy package. Doll said all versions of the Impreza will achieve the same fuel economy ratings.
“This is fuel economy without an asterisk,” Doll said.
The 2012 Impreza, which comes in a four-door sedan or five-door body style, has added 2 inches of back-seat legroom compared with the present model. But the redesigned car’s exterior dimensions remain the same.
Subaru was able to stretch the wheelbase about 1 inch and raise the rear seats about 17 millimeters to gain the extra back-seat legroom customers want, a spokesman said.
Other changes to the redesigned Impreza include thinner A-pillars for better visibility, a new hexagonal grille with hawk-eye headlights and a bigger Subaru badge on the grille. Subaru also moved the side mirrors from the A-pillars to the doors for better visibility.
A 2.0-liter engine replaces the present 2.5-liter engine. The redesigned vehicle’s lighter body weight, the result of increased use of high-strength steel, gives the 2.0-liter engine zip despite its 148 hp. The 2.5-liter gets 170 hp, the company says.
In terms of interior technology, the 2012 Impreza will offer iPod integration, high-definition radio, hands-free Bluetooth phone connectivity and navigation options.
The automaker is not announcing pricing yet but says the vehicle, which is built in Japan, will be priced closer to the present model’s sticker. The Impreza currently starts at $18,220, including shipping.
Doll expects the mix for the Impreza to be 60 percent sedan and 40 percent five-door.
The impact of Japan’s recent earthquake will not hamper production of the 2012 Impreza, Doll said.