It’s early 2002 and Subaru is launching the new Forester in Tokyo. I go to the press launch and meet one of the Subaru head designers, an affable bloke who’s been at the company for years.

Not sure everyone’s going to go for the look of the new car, I venture. My designer friend rolls his eyes. “People always complain about Subaru design,” he sighs.

Judging by the early reception for the new Legacy, that still holds true. The car’s only just broken cover in Japan but its looks have already been crucified in cyberspace. Yikes. 

Love it or hate it, one thing’s for sure. The roll call of visually challenging new Subarus (New Legacy, Impreza (second and third generations), Tribeca, R2 etc) seems depressingly and unnecessarily long. You just wonder what they’re playing at….

I can tell you that like all Japanese car companies, Subaru doesn’t lack for design talent. It’s with design management that it often hits the buffers.

Read the Autocar verdict on the new Subaru Legacy

Case in point, Subaru may be the only car company in the world to have appointed a crash test engineer (a man with no design experience) to head up its design department. You couldn’t make it up. That particular gentleman has now moved on but his Legacy, er, lives on. ‘