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New York show: Subaru’s new Impreza slips out

Sleeker Subaru: Mk4 Impreza sedan will go on sale in Australia later this year.

Fourth-generation Impreza emerges ahead of its global debut in the Big Apple

Subaru logo7 Apr 2011

By MARTON PETTENDY

SUBARU has revealed the first image of its fourth-generation Impreza, which will make its world premiere at the New York Auto Show in two weeks and could make its Australian debut at the Melbourne motor show on July 1.

Both the Mk4 sedan and hatch are due to be launched in Japan in late August and should be released here a few months later – just three years after the third-generation Impreza sedan arrived here in December 2008 and four years after the MkIII hatch launched locally, in October 2007.

Despite that, Subaru says both the four-door and five-door Impreza body styles are “totally new designs, featuring greater cabin space, major gains in interior design and refinement, plus multiple technological advances”.

This single side profile image of the redesigned sedan, which is expected to be revealed alongside its all-new hatchback sibling on April 20 (or 3.00am AEST the following morning), reveals the production version will be a toned down version of the sleek Impreza Design Concept that debuted at the Los Angeles show last November.

Nevertheless, after returning to a more conservative look for the current Impreza in 2007, the new-for-2012 model marks a shift towards the more contemporary European-oriented styling previewed by the Impreza concept’s ‘Confidence in Motion’ design language.

As the teaser image reveals, the new Impreza sedan’s silhouette is similar to the outgoing three-box model in terms of proportions, overhangs and its rising shoulder line, but features a rounder roofline, ‘faster’ windscreen and all-new, more heavily chiselled sheetmetal.

2 center imageCurrent Impreza RX sedan (top) and Impreza Design Concept (below).Inheriting somewhat milder iterations of the striking design cues seen on last year’s stylish Impreza sedan concept, which featured a far lower and more coupe-like roofline, the production Impreza sedan emerges with heavily flared wheel-arches, wrap-around headlights and tail-lights, an all-new C-pillar treatment and a deep lower bodyside feature line.

Apart from revealing the new Impreza will be more refined and larger inside, Subaru has provided no details on the “multiple technological advances” it claims, but says both the “incredibly frugal” sedan and hatch models will continue to offer all-wheel drive.

“We are very excited about the amazing stylish new Impreza, which will not only broaden Subaru’s appeal significantly, but offer a new level of interior quality, technology and the safety for which we’re famed,” said Subaru Australia managing director Nick Senior, who at last year’s Sydney motor show promised “one big thing” for the 2011 Melbourne show.

Earlier this year Mr Senior confirmed the replacement for Subaru Australia’s volume-selling model will hit local showrooms by year’s end with the new naturally aspirated long-stroke FB-series boxer engine released in the MY11 Forester X and XS in February, matched with a new constantly variable transmission (CVT) to replace the existing model’s conventional four-speed automatic option.

Subaru’s (non-turbo four-cylinder) Liberty, Outback and Exiga models are already available with a CVT, while mainstream MY11 Forester models with Subaru’s new boxer four employ an upgraded version of the current Impreza’s four-speed auto and the top-shelf S-Edition comes standard with the WRX’s optional five-speed paddle-shift auto.

A direct-injection version of Subaru’s boxer four is also expected to power both Toyota’s upcoming FT-86 sports coupe and the closely related Subaru version, which appeared as a technology concept at the Geneva show in March and could arrive here by late next year.

While the naturally aspirated FB engine will power mainstream versions of the new Impreza, turbocharged boxer models – if they appear - are likely to continue with engines based on the EJ-series powerplant first introduced in 1989.

GoAuto understands there is no guarantee the Mk4 Impreza range will comprise higher-performance WRX or STI model derivatives, which at times have accounted for up to half of all Impreza sales and could be developed as a standalone model alongside the Impreza.

The new-generation Impreza will be just one of a claimed 35 world debuts to appear in New York, where Subaru revealed its current Liberty and Outback mid-sizers in 2009.

Also confirmed to make worldwide premieres there are two new concepts based on Suzuki’s Kizashi medium sedan, at least one of which now appears likely to be a hybrid, based on new information from the company.

“Both new vehicles will be based on the Kizashi platform and will feature two new advanced propulsion options,” said Suzuki this week.

“The first concept will feature a stylish and socially-conscious sedan propelled by a newly-developed advanced powertrain. The second reveal will be a wildly-schemed and amped up homage to Suzuki's motorcycle heritage.”

Also due to debut in New York is the Lexus LF-Gh concept, which previews the Toyota luxury brand’s next-generation GS large sedan, the sedan version of the new Kia Rio hatch and Volkswagen’s new New Beetle – all of which are due on sale here in 2012.

Running simultaneously with the New York show this year is China’s Shanghai show, which opens a day earlier on April 19 and will host world debuts of BMW’s all-new F10-series M5 super-sedan and GM/Holden’s replacement for the Epica medium sedan, the Malibu, both of which arrive here early next year.

Subaru’s new Impreza will replace a model that has generated a 66.6 per cent sales surge so far this year, with the MkIII version snaring a 7.7 per cent slice of the mainstream small car segment to place sixth behind the Mazda3, Toyota Corolla, Holden Cruze, Hyundai i30 and Mitsubishi Lancer.

Last year Impreza sales were static at about 12,300, accounting for just 5.3 per cent of the under-$40,000 small-car class to place seventh behind seven other contenders, including VW’s Golf, but still ahead of Ford’s Focus and Honda’s Civic.

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