When the Crosstrek first debuted on the scene in 2013, competition was sparse. There were certainly other compact crossover/hatchbacks on the market that Subaru had to contend with, but the brand — owned by Japan’s Fuji Heavy Industries — had something the others didn’t: reputation.
Not every manufacturer can slap in a parts-bin AWD system, a moderate lift on all four corners, and some plastic body cladding and watch sales soar. But Subaru can, because its AWD system is renowned, buyers practically expect the unsightly grey plastic in the first place, and large swaths of Subaru’s buyer base lives in regions where an extra half-inch of lift will actually be useful.
As a result, the Crosstrek has been a colossal success.
Not willing to sit on its laurels, Subaru this week teased the XV Concept ahead of the Geneva Motor Show. And though it appears far more evolutionary than revolutionary, it spells good things for the miniature dirt-road special.
The car is immediately identifiable as a Crosstrek, but it brings it up to speed with the new Impreza concept that first debuted in Los Angeles back in November. The front lights are more angular and WRX-like, the plastic molding is more minimal in some places and bulky in others, and the sheetmetal has been nipped, tucked, tightened, and tweaked to where the Crosstrek looks almost sci-fi modern, but rural-backroad rugged at the same time.
Though Subaru has been assailed for not delivering production vehicles that the concepts set the tone for, most of the new XV Concept looks doable. Those 19-inch alloys won’t see the showroom floor, nor likely will the subtle two-tone accenting. The prominent bumper accenting will probably be toned down, but outside of those things, there’s a good chance — even with Subaru’s track record — that we could be largely looking at the next-gen Crosstrek.
At least, we hope. Since the Crosstrek’s initial debut, Infiniti has the QX30, Honda has its HR-V, Toyota just revealed the C-HR, Volvo lifted and put some plastic on the V60 and called it the Cross Country, Chevy re-did the Trax, and Jeep has the go-anywhere Renegade. The Crosstrek’s no longer the only off-road able hatchback. But it’s arguably the most comfortable in its own skin.