The Subaru Impreza has been named 2016–2017 Car of the Year Japan. The fifth-generation Impreza scored 420 points to clinch the award, ahead of the Toyota Prius (371) and B9 Audi A4 (149, wins the Import Car of the Year award). This is the second time Fuji Heavy Industries (FHI) has been awarded the honour, following the Legacy’s win in 2003. The Mazda MX-5 was last year’s JCOTY winner.

The latest Impreza made its debut at the New York show in March. In about a month since its launch on October 13 in Japan, the new Impreza outsold its monthly sales target of 2,500 units by more than fourfold, with 11,050 orders.

FHI says that demand from customers switching from other brands has been notable, representing 51% of all orders. This is an indication that the Impreza is now attracting a wider range of customers in the Land of the Rising Sun, the firm suggests.

The new Subaru Global Platform underpins both sedan and hatch versions of the Impreza. It has an increased rigidity of 70% to 100% over the outgoing model, and a lower centre of gravity by 5 mm. The suspension has been setup for better comfort and Active Torque Vectoring also helps improve dynamics. The car is longer and wider than the old one.

Powering the Subaru is a revised version of the FB20 2.0 litre direct-injection boxer-four. With around 80% of parts revamped, the engine produces 152 hp, four horses more than before. The marque’s Lineartronic CVT has enhanced ratio coverage, better acceleration and fuel economy. Symmetrical AWD is standard, of course.

Subaru’s EyeSight suite of active safety functions is available. It is also the first car ever produced by a Japanese brand to include a pedestrian protection airbag as standard.

GALLERY: 2017 Subaru Impreza