So what does it mean to European drivers if Toyota and Subaru are starting to get closer and will soon start colaborating to build cars together?

Optimists might well reckon the Toyota connection will do something about Subaru’s generally woeful design and fuel economy – long since the two major weaknesses for car’s wearing the Subaru badge. Which would be a good thing, surely?

On the other hand, Subaru seems to be becoming slowly but surely entwined within the empire of Toyota, a far larger company. For a firm that has based so much of its appeal on individuality and going its own way, that’s a considerable risk.

There’s particular interest in Japan at the news that Subaru will be sharing its prized boxer engine with Toyota for the new rear-drive “Toyobaru” sports coupe that the two companies are jointly developing – something that has really raised eyebrows.

A year ago the very idea of a Toyota using Subaru’s unique flat-four engine would have been inconceivable. And to many Subaru fans, it’s a decision tantamount to selling off the family silver.

Of course, those with less emotional attachment might shrug and say a new kind of Celica with a Subaru flat-four engine on board might be kind of cool, and so wonder what all the fuss is about.

The truth is that small, quirky Subaru now needs its tie-in with big, rich Toyota to prosper – maybe even to survive. If sharing the boxer engine is part of the deal that makes that happen it’s a case of shoganai as they say here in Japan: “can’t be helped.”