Subaru will spice up the next-generation Impreza next year, with vastly more contemporary styling in a drive to lift flagging sales.
Revealed as the Impreza Design Concept at today’s Los Angeles motor show, this new small saloon previews a European-flavoured design language with strong shoulders and more complex body surfacing, beefed up with wide sills and bulging arches.
The strong shoulders and arcing roofline look rather Volvo-like and emphasise strength much more than today’s bland design.
Subaru claims the concept “conveys a sporty and lively four-door coupé style” and says that it has “blended two design ideas — dynamic flow and confident stance — to showcase performance, driving enjoyment and quality”. The concept’s grille design is already on the current Legacy — but the gaping brake vents and angled headlights are new. And the Legacy’s pronounced wheel arch bulges are exaggerated further on this concept.
It is significant that the next Impreza is being shown as a four-door, the body style that’s provided the bulk of sales since launch in 1992. Subaru took a calculated risk to move today’s Impreza into the mainstream by designing a five-door hatch first and then spinning off a four-door, to take on Europe’s best brands in their heartland. But the plan misfired and the Impreza has failed to conjure up the magic of previous generations.
Subaru also hasn’t mentioned two-wheel drive — suggesting that the experiment with 2WD on today’s Impreza will also be abandoned, despite pressure to cut emissions.
Under the bonnet of the concept is a hallmark flat four engine in 2.0-litre capacity. It’s understood to be a new unit derived from the 2.5-litre boxer that powers the Forester in the US.
Subaru appears to be ploughing its own furrow in next-gen transmissions by mating the motor to a CVT, rather than a dual-clutch ’box. That also supports parent company Fuji Heavy, which supplies CVTs to other manufacturers, notably Nissan.