Los Angeles 2010: Subaru Confidently Teases the Impreza's Future

The Subaru Impreza has always offered an intriguing mix of all-wheel-drive, affordability, and -- particularly in its WRX guise -- performance, but it's never exactly been lauded for aesthetics. That may soon change, however, if the company's new Impreza Design Concept, unveiled today at the 2010 Los Angeles Auto Show, is any indication of the vehicles to come.

Calling this a departure from the current car is a gross understatement. This is, quite frankly, a clean-sheet design, which abandons the rotund, bulging profile of today's Impreza in favor of a tapered, sophisticated shape. Thanks to taut body lines and slender panel gaps, the concept carries a very mature appearance. Arguably, the only cues carried over from the present Impreza are the bold bumper fascias, wide stance, and flared wheel wells -- all of which, Subaru says, are designed to emphasize the vehicle's driveline.

Per Subaru tradition, the Impreza Design Concept sends power to all four wheels, thanks in no small part to the company's symmetrical all-wheel-drive system. Power comes courtesy of a 2.0-liter flat-four-cylinder, which is derived from the company's third-generation boxer engine range. Interestingly, Subaru's fitted the show car with its continuously variable transmission -- a feature new to the Impreza line, but key to help the company improve fuel economy figures.

So, is this simply a showcase for Subaru's new "Confidence in Motion" mantra, or is the Impreza Design Concept something more? Officials simply smirk when we ask, but we'd wager this is a good preview of the next-generation Impreza, much like the 2009 Legacy concept forecast the then up-and-coming 2010 Legacy sedan.

Strip this show car of the camera-based rear-view mirrors, digital gauges, and expansive touch-screen interface, and you may well be looking at tomorrow's Impreza. If so, we're in for a real treat. It's refreshing, frankly, to see Subaru infuse this much style into its entry-level model.

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