If you enjoy a spirited drive, you won’t be disappointed by the turbocharged models. The non-turbocharged models, on the other hand, as most reviewers found, are lacking in the performance department and can really feel sluggish unless driven hard.
According to NADAGuides, the new 2.5GT model “drives like a Subaru…When the turbo kicks in after a few thousand rpms, the Impreza 2.5GT surges forward with purpose. If inclement weather is thrown its way, the Impreza never gives me reason to worry.” ConsumerGuide says the “2.5GT is a bit sluggish from a stop, but speed picks up nicely at higher rpm. The transition where the turbo kicks in is smooth and linear, so we're hesitant to call it ‘turbo lag.’ Despite having only four speeds, the automatic transmission is a good match for the engine.”
The non-turbocharged models suffer because they are hampered by the weight of the 2010 Subaru Impreza. Car and Driver points out that the Impreza’s "curb weights are hefty for a compact, and performance is tepid as a consequence." MyRide.com backs this up by saying that although the "combination of a 170-horsepower 2.5-liter flat-four engine, a five-speed manual transmission and full-time all-wheel drive sounds like a recipe for fun," it is, in fact, a "high-carb mixture thanks to the Impreza's 3,064-pounds curb weight...[resulting in] pokey acceleration, even though the powertrain gives it all it's got." Automobile Magazine points out that the 2010 Subaru Impreza’s 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine found on the base models "survives largely unchanged from the previous generation Impreza, albeit with a slight bump in horsepower and torque...power is up to 170-horespower at 6,000 rpm, torque climbs to 170-pound-feet, and the torque peak has fallen, from 4,400 rpm to 4,000 rpm," which is "enough to move the car along just fine in most driving scenarios."
Edmunds likes the base models, saying that they “ride and handle satisfactorily for a compact car, and the tenacious all-wheel-drive grip is a boon for wet-weather driving. The naturally aspirated 2.5-liter boxer has more aural character than your typical economy-grade four-cylinder, and it delivers adequate punch when called on.”
Edmunds also suggests that “enthusiast-oriented drivers choose the manual transmission,” explaining that “acceleration is sluggish with the four-speed automatic.” Automobile Magazine agrees, noting, “The manual transmission, however, is something Subaru needs to work on. Sure, the shifts are long (again, it's not a WRX), but the Impreza begs for a tall sixth gear.”
"When it comes to road manners, the littlest Subie is pretty sedate...the 2.5i gets the softest suspension of the Impreza lot, which is to say that it's comfortable over bumps but not terribly sporty,” reports Automobile Magazine. ConsumerGuide finds that "steering feel is responsive, if not as razor sharp as would be expected in a sporty car."