There’s no denying that the ‘Impreza’ nameplate remains one of the most evocative in the motoring world today. And so it should be. Subaru’s rampaging off-road barbarian of the 90s and early 2000s was arguably the last truly great road-going derivative of a WRC homologated rally car. But somewhere along the line, since Subaru’s 2008 exit from the championship that transformed it into one of the coolest and most desirable badges on the road, the Impreza legacy has, in the eyes of many, become somewhat blurred.
What has been perceived in some quarters as a confusing dilution of the brand’s hard-built prestige can effectively be traced back to the release of the fourth generation Subaru Impreza in 2011. It was at this point when the decision was made to draw a clear dividing line between the family-friendly Impreza hatch and saloon varients and their high-performance, high-octane WRX and WRX STi siblings. The result: from 2011, the WRX and WRX STi models permanently jettisoned the famous Impreza moniker. Mechanically, the basic saloon chassis and body remained beneath the snarling air-intakes and towering wings, and it’s worth pointing out that the latest generation WRX is just as phenomenal on the road as its predecessors were. But that significant and symbolic link to past glories, the evocative nameplate itself, had been permanently severed.
Casting the WRX thread to one side, the Impreza badge lives on; only these days its wardrobe is comprised entirely of thermal vests, sensible shoes and comfy trousers. In short, the fourth generation Subaru Impreza is quite simply a reliable, practical, family car whose styling and design reflects its raison d’être. And there’s nothing at all wrong with that.
However, could Subaru be about to pull the Impreza back in the opposite direction? Are we about to see some adrenaline pumped back into veins of the old charger? The first clue arrived in our inbox during the 2015 Los Angeles Auto Show.
Officially unveiled as the Impreza Sedan Concept, this latest glimpse into Subaru’s future is an intriguing one indeed. The next-generation Impreza, likely to receive its official debut sometime next year, will blaze a trail for a new chapter in Subaru’s global design strategy. And if this concept is anything to go by, that strategy will involve a significantly more sporty approach to styling than is currently the case across the Japanese marque’s entry-level lineup.
So what does this sedan concept bring to the party that the current production Impreza lacks? For starters, the entire exterior is less angular and far more aerodynamically-conscious. The wider and lower stance immediately infers a sportier focus, whist Subaru’s trademark hexagonal grille sits more upright and is flanked by a pair of ‘hawk-eye’ headlights. The wheel arches are noticeably more flared than those of the current production Impreza and an eye-catching line flows gradually up along the lower portion of the door panels and over the 19” rear wheels. The overall package is bookended by an integrated front valence and rear spoiler, whilst a sleek new boot lid that tapers upwards at the rear further hints at the sedan concept’s discernibly more athletic credentials. The 5-seater saloon is finished off in metallic ruby red complete with glossy-black accents and exterior trim.
As concepts go, it wouldn’t take a huge leap of faith to envisage a production-ready next-generation Impreza along these very lines debuting as early as next year. Expect Subaru to accelerate preparations for a replacement for its current flagship family saloon in the coming months.