The 2017 Subaru Impreza is both a giant leap and a baby step for Subaru. It has a couple of big firsts for the small automaker. The first is that this is an all new platform. Subaru calls it the "Subaru Global Platform" (creative, I know), and it will be the new bones for much of Subaru's future lineup. Quoted as doubling rigidity over the old platform, it also lowers the centre of gravity and increases crash worthiness. The new suspension that's attached to it reduces body roll by over 50 percent and "significantly increases ride quality". The second giant leap for Subaru is that this will be the first Impreza made in North America. Subaru indicated they are doubling capacity at their Indiana plant by the end of the year, and making a $500 million (US) investment to do it. The first Imprezas to roll off of that new line are expected in late 2016.

The 2017 Subaru Impreza is both a giant leap and a baby step for Subaru.

The baby step is the styling. While this is an all new car on an all new platform, it doesn't look it at first glance. The styling of the new car, from front to rear, is very similar to the previous generation. That's not a bad thing, and it's a handsome car, but it takes some looking to tell new from old. The biggest differences are the scallop in the door and the crease on the rear quarter panel. It's a conservative redesign, but doesn't look dated. The new car is slightly wider and longer than the old model, but the new platform allows it to be lower than the old one as well for improved aerodynamics. It will be available in sedan and five-door wagon versions as with the last generation.

Underhood will be a refreshed version of Subaru's 2.0L boxer four-cylinder engine. This will add direct injection for an increase in power and fuel economy. The economy number has not yet been finalized, but is hopefully more noticeable than the horsepower increase (from 148 to 152 hp). Behind the four will be Subaru's Lineartronic CVT, which on certain trims will feature paddle shifters and seven virtual gears to choose from. There was no mention made of a manual transmission, which means it's likely there will not be one available.

In depth: Subaru Global Platform Will Underpin the Next Impreza

There will be four trims available at launch, 2.0i, Touring, Sport, and Sport-tech. The 2.0i is the base model, with a 6.5-inch touchscreen, power windows, locks and mirrors, and a multi-function dash display. The Touring Package adds 16-inch alloy wheels, fog lights, automatic headlights, wiper de-icers, heated seats and automatic climate control. The Sport Package jumps to 17-inch wheels, and adds a sunroof, steering responsive LED headlights, an 8.0-inch touchscreen and blind spot detection. With the new Sport-tech package Subaru adds 18-inch wheels, LED turn signals, gloss black trim (in place of the chrome on other models), and leather steering wheel, CVT and parking boots with contrasting red stitching. The Sport-tech with EyeSight adds proximity keyless access, push-button start, reverse automatic braking, and automated high beam control. Reverse automatic braking detects collisions and will brake for you, but only if you're backing up. The Impreza does not have forward collision avoidance. EyeSight also adds steering line display in the back-up camera, adaptive cruise, and lane assist. Apple CarPlay and Android Autos are also present on at least the Sport-tech's multimedia system.

At least until the WRX and WRX STI arrive, the Sport-tech package is the one to have for enthusiasts. In addition to the comfort features already mentioned, it adds unique suspension tuning and active torque vectoring to improve handling and use Subaru's all wheel drive to shift power where it's needed. Not just to increase inclement weather traction, but to reduce under or over steer as required.

Subaru talked a lot about safety when they introduced this car. It was mentioned more than any other thing. Interestingly they went beyond the improved structure and high strength steel absorbing more impact, past all the airbags, beyond EyeSight and the long list of electronic safety assists. Subaru's presentation talked about the safety of avoidance. How lowering the center of gravity by five millimetres gave the Impreza "outstanding hazard avoidance capabilities". How improvements to handling gave you the ability to avoid accidents. This is good for everyone, but it's good for people who like to drive. A car that can avoid an accident is also a car that is nimble and responsive. A car that is good to drive. Look for our drive of the car later this year to see if the Impreza measures up to Subaru's hype. Pricing is not yet available, but Subaru stated it should be close to the current car. Look for full information and specifications later this year.