Subaru is having a renaissance right now, and that’s in no small part due to the success of its entry-level Impreza. Starting at around $19,000, the model is available as a five-seat sedan or hatch that stands out against its competition thanks to its standard all-wheel drive and boxer four cylinder engine. And it’s more popular than ever — through October, Subaru has already shattered its 2014 sales numbers. What’s more, it serves as the base for the iconic, rally-bred WRX and STI, giving the Impreza a formidable performance reputation by proxy.
While the WRX and STI (as well as Subaru’s WRC rally cars) largely owe their success to the Impreza’s good bones, the base car is, well, a little milquetoast. Despite a facelift for 2015, the current Impreza has been around since 2012, and neither its interior or exterior stand out as a class-leader in a segment dominated by the Toyota Camry and Honda Accord. And in its base 2.0 liter/six speed CVT transmission setup, nobody would mistake it for an STI — the Camry is almost a full second quicker from zero to 60. But that could change soon, as Subaru has unveiled its Impreza Sedan Concept at the Los Angeles Auto Show, and if Subaru puts this into production, the idea of a boring Impreza could soon be a thing of the past.
The company has made sure to keep the Concept tag front and center, with this Impreza serving as a showcase for the company’s new “Dynamic x Solid” styling language, something we’re likely to see more of in the 2017 model. Subaru says “the front, sides, and rear of the car are seamlessly joined to create a solid and muscular body that is inherent of Subaru design.”
While the concept could instantly make the current model’s shortcomings a thing of the past, it might not be as clear a window into the future as we might hope. In 2014, Subaru released the Legacy concept, meant to preview the all-new 2015 model. The concept was graceful, powerful — and nothing like the production car. Frankly, design details like “menacing hawk-eye headlights and aircraft inspired wing” should set the Impreza apart from the pack while still not being too ostentatious to scare away Subaru’s growing customer base.
There’s no word on performance specs yet, but with the base Impreza needing a shot in the arm as it is, an 8.6-second zero to 60 sprint won’t do in a car this aggressive looking. The closer the production car looks to the concept, the better its performance outlook is likely to be.
Still, there is hope that Subaru may be finally figuring this concept-to-production thing out. At last month’s Tokyo Motor Show, it unveiled the Impreza 5-Door Concept, which looked awfully close to the sedan. With safety in numbers, we’re hoping to see a graceful transition from dream car to daily driver, a la Nissan adapting its 2014 Sport Sedan Concept into the 2016 Maxima. Subaru has one of the most formidable lineups in the industry right now, and while the Impreza is by no means a bad car, closing the gap between the base model and the bonkers STI could be just what the doctor ordered to make a big splash in the midsize segment.
Like classics? It’s always Throwback Thursday somewhere.
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