Eager to add “interior excellence” to its brand attributes, Subaru is working hard to step up its cabin designs.

The refocusing on style shows in the interior of the all-new ’17 Impreza, winner of a 2017 Wards 10 Best Interiors award. The compact car’s mix of quality materials, thoughtful-but-restrained use of color, easy-to-use features and easy-to-reach switchgear place Subaru on our seventh annual list for the first time.

“A big leap for this price range and a giant leap for Subaru,” says Judge Drew Winter of the Impreza, which WardsAuto editors evaluated in the form of a $23,615 2.0i Sport-grade sedan and a $29,260 2.0i Limited grade 5-door.

Black, red and silver is a proven winning combination in vehicles with a performance slant, but in the 2.0i Sport sedan Subaru uses two different patterns of black simulated carbon-fiber trim and judiciously applies metal finishes and red stitching.

The carbon-fiber-look trim on the passenger-side dash and door panel comes together in a smooth, difficult-to-sculpt curve at the king’s joint. Achieving the complex shape was a goal of designers, who wanted to bring angularity and a new sense of dynamic-ness to Subaru interiors, a company official told WardsAuto in March.

Change of this magnitude with regard to overall interior styling language and quality generally is seen on vehicles at the top of a brand’s lineup. The fact that Subaru first launches its new design initiative in its least-expensive vehicle is laudable.

Seats in the Impreza Sport are meticulously crafted, thanks to 42 individual cloth panels that draw the eye to the beautifully textured surface. Subaru also uses three different fabrics, including an outdoor gear-inspired mesh, for the Sport grade’s seating material.

In a never-before-seen level of attention to detail for a compact car, we spy patterned hard-plastic trim inside vents and on the CD slot door.

VIDEO: INSIDE AWARD-WINNING IMPREZA

Our Limited hatchback has a visually quieter cabin, but one that is equally fetching, thanks to its lovely ivory leather and satin-metallic trim.

Both Imprezas have Subaru’s updated infotainment system with re-thought HMI, making it easier to navigate menus. Designers and engineers came together to give interior displays a unified appearance.

“Above all else, the center flush-mounted touchscreen is a huge upgrade for Subaru,” says Judge Bob Gritzinger. “Everything is clear, easy to read and appears fully integrated. The upper screen does a good job of clarifying information at eye level for the driver.”

Physical controls, including knobs for climate control, earn kudos from our judges too, due to their ergonomic placement on the mid or lower center stack and their generous size.

“Interiors with linear, boxy designs always have been Subaru’s Achilles’ heel,” says Judge Dave Zoia. “They’ve really stepped it up here.”

cschweinsberg@wardsauto.com