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2024 Subaru Impreza Review: RS Returns After a Quarter Century

For 2024, Subaru is reaching back to 1998 and the RS badge. By cramming its biggest four-cylinder into its smallest hatchback, Subaru is looking to bring back some of that 2.5RS magic.

2024 Subaru Impreza RS(Photo/Evan Williams)
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A couple of months ago, I drove the Subaru Legacy GT, and I found that the brand had brought back some shades of one of its best performance sedans. Now, I’m driving the 2024 Subaru Impreza RS, an even more overt attempt to grab car buyer nostalgia by using a name Subaru hasn’t used in 2 decades.

In short: The 2024 Subaru Impreza RS is more powerful and more pleasant than before, but the suspension tuning stops it from being a successor to the original RS.

2024 Subaru Impreza


  • Engine 2.5L flat-four
  • Horsepower 182
  • Torque 178 lb.-ft.
  • Mileage 26/33/29 mpg city, highway, combined
  • Cargo 20.4 cu. ft. with seats up, 56.0 cu. ft. folded
  • Towing N/A


  • Soft seats
  • Massive cargo space
  • Standard all-wheel drive
  • Soft suspension when you hit a bump


  • Lackluster fuel economy
  • Slow-to-boot infotainment
  • Not enough power
  • Bouncy ride after you hit a bump

Subaru Impreza History

The original 2.5 RS arrived in 1998, right at the time that Subaru decided to go entirely all-wheel drive in North America (the BRZ wasn’t on the horizon yet). It jumped on the success of the rally-car WRX that was winning trophies all over the globe to sell buyers the promise of more capability.

America didn’t get that hot rally-ready WRX, though. Instead, at the time, Subaru USA offered a 1.8L Impreza that barely cracked 100 horsepower or a 2.2L that just barely made it over 140. With the heft and drag of all-wheel drive, those cars did not inspire any sort of performance bent.

So, the 2.5 RS got a 2.5L flat-four from the Legacy that made 167 horsepower and 167 pound-feet of torque. It was put in the coupe body with a big wing, cool wheels, and a rally-ready hood scoop. The model was cool, and a hit with the still-growing rally crowd. More importantly, its success paved (graveled?) the way for the WRX to arrive in 2002.

RS Tries to Raise Impreza’s Sails (and Sales)

2024 Subaru Impreza RS
(Photo/Evan Williams)

Today, the Impreza once again needs a bump. The WRX is its own model and outsells the standard Impreza some months. The Crosstrek, which also started off as an Impreza derivative, outsells the Impreza by five to one — a number that continues to grow. So, Subaru has gone back to the well to find some excitement for its compact hatch.

The car is largely all-new, with Subaru giving the 2024 Impreza (and Crosstrek) a stiffer platform that weighs less, but its engines carry over. That means that the base car gets a 2.0L flat-four that makes 152 horsepower. Hardly exciting in a world where most of its competitors are nearer to 200.

Half a Liter, 30 More Horses

2024 Subaru Impreza RS
2.5L flat-four defines the Impreza RS; (photo/Evan Williams)

So, Subaru brought out the 2.5L flat-four and an RS badge once again. It’s the 2.5L you’ll find in the Forester, making 182 horsepower and 178 pound-feet of torque. It makes the 2024 Impreza RS quick, but still far from speedy. It is very helpful, however, as the standard car is downright slow.

The flat-four is quiet and smooth and has just a hint of the typical Subaru light aircraft rumble. In a model-badged RS, I’d have liked a bit more noise from the exhaust, making the car more of a bridge between the 2.0L and the WRX by emphasizing the performance upgrades.

All-Wheel Drive Standard

2024 Subaru Impreza RS
(Photo/Evan Williams)

Naturally, this Subaru comes with all-wheel drive as standard. The model gains torque vectoring, letting it send power left and right to help with traction and handling, but it doesn’t have the Crosstrek’s X-Mode off-road settings. Impreza also comes with just one gearbox: a CVT.

Fortunately for the driver, Subaru does a good CVT. It’s not as sharp as the one Subaru puts in the WRX, but it is nearly as good and, if I’m being realistic, better for most drivers. Subaru uses a torque converter instead of the typical CVT start clutch to get moving, and that makes the package feel much more like a conventional automatic. Especially from a start, when a CVT can feel its worst.

Engine speed rises and falls mostly invisibly if you’re not looking at the tach. It pops up in a hurry when you ask for full power, but against segment competition like the Mazda 3 or a 1.5 Turbo Honda Civic, it doesn’t deliver much in the way of acceleration when those revs are high.

RS Means Sport Suspension

2024 Subaru Impreza RS
(Photo/Evan Williams)

The other main difference of the RS model is what Subaru calls a sport-tuned suspension. The setup is shared with the Sport model and seems to be made up almost entirely of stiffer springs.

Subaru is known for long suspension travel setups that help soak up bumps and dips, and the RS still has that quality. But the new springs seem to overpower the shocks when the suspension is in rebound.

When you hit the bump and it compresses, everything is comfortable. But when the suspension rebounds to normal, there isn’t enough damping. Without enough rebound damping, the body feels like it is springing away from the bump.

It’s bouncy. And while bouncy is synonymous with sporting for a whole lot of drivers, it doesn’t actually contribute to handling improvements. Combine that with the low-profile tires fitted to the 18-inch wheels of the RS and you have a ride that can be a bit jarring over broken pavement.

WRX Steering Improves the Drive

2024 Subaru Impreza RS
(Photo/Evan Williams)

Start to push the Impreza RS, though, and the chassis is much more impressive. The Impreza gets a version of the dual-pinion power steering rack used on the WRX that has a slightly less snappy ratio but delivers quick responses.

The steering encourages you to push the car, where the low center of gravity of the flat-four helps manage body roll and the Impreza RS becomes fun.

The sharp ride ensures that you won’t be pretending you’re Colin McRae blasting down a gravel rally road, but it is fun when you’re on a smoother tarmac stage. The springiness of the suspension is problematic over sharp and abrupt bumps, but strangely quite good over bumps that take longer to pass over.

2024 Subaru Impreza RS: Super-Soft Seats

2024 Subaru Impreza RS
(Photo/Evan Williams)

The new seats inside are exceptionally cushy. They get foam that is very supportive without creating pressure points and without hard bolstering. They’re by far the squishiest seats in the segment, and I’m here for it.

RS models get a special cloth pattern with red accents and contrast stitching, because sport! They’re also heated as part of the All-Weather package, using Subaru’s traditional toggle switch. I love that switch because once you turn it on, it stays on until you turn it off. There’s no having to turn them back on every time you start the ignition.

The dashboard design is rather simple and isn’t that much changed from the last few generations of Impreza. Materials lag the competition, especially Mazda and Honda, when it comes to feeling premium, but they do promise more durability down the road. The Impreza feels more rugged and utilitarian, which seems appropriate for a Subaru.

Sport, RS Get 11.6-Inch Screen

2024 Subaru Impreza RS
(Photo/Evan Williams)

Sport and RS models both get Subaru’s 11.6-inch portrait-layout infotainment system while the base spec gets a dual-screen unit. The big screen is the same one offered in the Forester and Outback, and it includes wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

While the screen is huge, Subaru doesn’t make the most of the display. The company uses massive fonts and graphics, making the system look like a “futuristic” design penned in the 1980s.

The system is, at least, responsive once it has booted. But, that boot-up sequence can be a little too long since all climate control adjustments have to wait until the screen is loaded. Subaru has fixed the issue where CarPlay and Auto would only use a tiny portion of the screen, and that’s greatly appreciated.

Impreza Sedan Dropped for 2024

2024 Subaru Impreza RS
(Photo/Evan Williams)

The sedan version of the Impreza is gone with the 2024 redesign, which leaves the WRX as Subaru’s only compact sedan. The hatchback was by far the more popular choice anyway, and with 20.4 cubic feet of space with the rear seats up and 56 with them folded, it’s not much of a surprise. This is a wide and deep cargo opening, making the most of the space in the back of the Impreza’s bodyshell.

With the rear seats folded, the load floor is nearly 64 inches long. That’s not quite enough to sleep in for most people, but fitting bikes, tents, and other gear inside should be easy.

The Impreza doesn’t come with standard roof rails, but Subaru does continue to give the car secure rack mounting points. These hidden threaded mounts on the roof have been a Subaru hallmark for decades, so I’m glad to see them continue.

EyeSight Safety Missing Some Key Assists

2024 Subaru Impreza RS
(Photo/Evan Williams)

Every Impreza comes with the latest version of Subaru’s EyeSight safety assistance suite. This includes new cameras with a wider field of view and better detection of cyclists and pedestrians. The system on the base Impreza includes automatic high beams, adaptive cruise, and emergency braking. On cars with blind spot monitoring with lane change assist (standard on RS and optional on Sport), the system gets automatic emergency steering.

Missing from the safety suite is Subaru’s Distraction Mitigation System. That system, offered on most of the rest of Subaru’s lineup, sounds an alert if the driver isn’t watching the road. It’s nice to have, and while we all like to say it’s for young drivers, older drivers are just as likely to be watching their phones instead of the scenery.

Bigger Engine, Not Much More Cost

2024 Subaru Impreza RS
(Photo/Evan Williams)

The 2.5L engine uses more fuel than the 2.0, but not enough that you’d notice. It gets 26 mpg city and 33 mpg highway, against 27/34 mpg for the 2L model. I saw 32 mpg in mixed driving, showing that the EPA figures are attainable.

A base 2024 Impreza starts from $22,995, $2,000 less than the Crosstrek. The Sport is $24,995, and an RS is $27,885. As tested, the sticker price is $29,955 with a package that includes Harman Kardon audio, a power driver seat, and a sunroof.

2024 Subaru Impreza Review: Conclusions

2024 Subaru Impreza RS
(Photo/Evan Williams)

So, is this modern Subaru Impreza RS up to the legacy of the original? It’s not as clear as it was for me in the Subaru Legacy Sport where loads of extra power and great handling brought back flavors of Spec.B and 2.5 GT.

The 2024 RS gets none of the “boy-racer” looks of the original. It does have about the same performance as the original, and while that was quick for 1998, it’s not in 2024. The RS could have been something special, but instead, it feels like the Subaru you buy when the Crosstrek has extra-long wait times. Or when the payments for a Crosstrek Sport were just a little bit too high.

This 2024 Impreza is a solid vehicle and one that represents a strong value in a car market where those can be tough to find. If you don’t want the sport suspension, though, you’re limited to the base trim and its odd-looking dual-display dash layout and 2.0L engine. Either way, the Impreza is not likely to win over SUV-hungry buyers longing for the plastic cladding and suspension lift of the 2024 Subaru Crosstrek.

2023 Subaru Crosstrek Sport

2024 Subaru Crosstrek Sport Review: More Power and Refinement, Yet Just as Rugged

We drove a 2024 Subaru Crosstrek Sport up a ski resort. Its 2.5L engine and added features impressed, especially at the price point. Read more…

Evan Williams

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