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LA show: Subaru adds Euro spice to Impreza

Sleek: The Impreza Design Concept sports a coupe-like roofline, strong shoulders, bulging wheelarches and short overhangs.

Subaru unveils stylish rebodied Impreza in LA, with 2.0-litre boxer and CVT combo

18 Nov 2010

SUBARU’S highly anticipated Los Angeles auto show concept has come out of the shadows of the teaser image issued earlier this month – and has emerged as a near-final example of its all-important next-generation Impreza small car.

It also comes equipped with a “new-generation” 2.0-litre naturally aspirated four-cylinder boxer engine – a derivative of the 2.5-litre engine found in the US-spec Forester SUV – with a continuously variable transmission.

2 center imageDubbed the Impreza Design Concept, the striking concept heralds another bold new direction for the Japanese small car, with which Subaru has courted controversy over the years as it has attempted to create a style that has at times looked at odds with its strong, largely masculine, rallying image.

After returning the Impreza to more conservative ground with the current third-generation released in 2007, the concept shown in LA this week marks a more contemporary, European-oriented shift for the redesigned version which will be launched in final production form in Australia late next year.

As GoAuto has reported, the concept embodies Subaru’s new ‘Confidence in Motion’ design and brand strategy that expresses the company’s aim to continue to evolve in order to attract new customers to the brand and to increase global sales.

In Australia, which Subaru has long identified as a significant market, the brand’s sales are up 11.1 per cent year to date but the Impreza is down 6.8 per cent amid fierce competition among excellent Asian and European small cars in the biggest market segment in Australia, which overall is up 11.8 per cent.

As was evident in the silhouetted image issued prior to the show, the latest interpretations is a model with an appealing sporting flavour, a coupe-like roofline, strong shoulders, bulging wheelarches and short overhangs.

A low and wide stance, heavy bodywork creasing and an aggressive front end have now come to the fore in the four-seat concept, with Subaru describing it as a “sporty and lively four-door coupe” design that blends two ideas: “dynamic flow and confident stance” that is meant to showcase its core engineering values of dynamic performance, safety, driving enjoyment and quality.

At the front, Subaru says the concept is clearly recognisable as a member of its stable – “with a hexagonal grille with spread wings in the centre and hawk eye-style headlights” – but the bonnet, grille, big front brake cooling slots, and so on, take on a new form that is meant to project a three-dimensional character.

Other points of interest on the exterior include 10-spoke alloy wheels with carbon spoke fins, a hexagonal garnish at the rear to match the front-end theme, and a range of aerodynamic details such as underside diffusers.

Despite the coupe-like roofline, the company claims the design yields a roomy cabin. The interior also aims to convey a sporting and sophisticated feel, with dark-blue tones merging with light metallic highlights, and smooth integration of the dashboard with the door trim and armrests.

A large central touch-screen display combines functions for navigation, vehicle information and audio, while a monitor in the centre of the instrument cluster shows pictures from a camera stationed along the front edge of the roof.

This ‘EyeSight’ system is said to be networked with the latest in collision-prevention technology. Side rear-view cameras are also installed.

Subaru Australia managing director Nick Senior said the company was “very excited by the new style direction hinted at in this concept”, adding that the show car underscored the commitment of Subaru parent Fuji Heavy Industries (FHI) to all-wheel drive vehicles – a key element of the brand Down Under.

There is no mention of two-wheel drive versions in the material presented with the concept.

“FHI has underscored its future commitment to symmetrical all-wheel drive plus new-generation boxer engines and transmissions,” Mr Senior said.

“Combined with the fantastic style and quality of the cabin, too, we’re looking forward to seeing some of these themes become reality.” Prior to the show, speculation was rife that Subaru’s sportscar concept would preview its much-anticipated and still-to-be-seen all-new rear-wheel-drive sportscar, dubbed the ‘Subarota’ and developed in conjunction with Toyota’s FT-86.

But, as GoAuto sources confirmed, the concept was not the Subaru version of the FT-86 but a more mainstream model previewing its new design language.

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