"Impreza" is a coined word, deriving from an originally Italian word, impresa, meaning a feat or achievement. In Polish, "Impreza" means "party", "event" or "show".
The Impreza was introduced after the popular Leone/Loyale was cancelled with the aging EA series engine. The Impreza was introduced with the popular EJ series engine found in the larger Subaru Legacy.
Subaru is the only company that can claim that their drivetrain is symmetrical for this class size of vehicle.
Compared to vehicles in a similar size class such as Toyota Corolla, Honda Civic, Nissan Sentra, Mitsubishi Lancer and Mazda 3, only the Impreza has always offered AWD, and as of 1996 Subaru made this feature standard equipment in some markets.
Subaru chose to continue their longstanding use of the boxer engine in the Impreza. According to Subaru, their configuration of the engine inline with the transmission minimizes body roll due to the lower center of gravity compared with offset engines in most other vehicles. The Subaru layout is also light-weight and lends itself easily to support all-wheel-drive. The boxer design provides perfect vibration mitigation due to the fact that the movement of each piston is exactly countered by the corresponding piston in the opposing cylinder bank, eliminating the need for a counter-rotating weighted crankshaft (harmonic balancer). Torque steer is also reduced with this type of powertrain layout since the front drive shafts are of equal length.