Subaru will use this month’s Tokyo motor show to preview the replacements for two of its most important models: the Forester mid-sized SUV and the small Impreza.
The SUV concept shown here is the latest in Subaru’s ongoing ‘Viziv’ series, known this time as the Viziv Future Concept. Subaru has yet to confirm the Future Concept as a preview of the new Forester, but, apart from its three-door design, it’s no challenge to imagine this stylised SUV transforming into a showroom-ready family car.
Building on the look of Subaru’s new Legacy and Levorg models, the Viziv Future Concept introduces a more muscular form with pronounced wheel arches, a fast rising belt-line and a hooked headlight design at both ends.
Full details are still to come, although Subaru has confirmed that power will be provided by a downsized turbo petrol engine matched to an electric motor system.
This is likely a version of the system that powered the earlier Viziv 2, which saw a petrol engine and a small electric motor drive the front wheels, while a second pair of electric motors drove the rear wheels, forming a new “Independent-rear-motor-driven symmetrical AWD” system.
In its new form, Subaru has dubbed the system simply ‘Symmetrical Motor All-Wheel Drive’, which again sees the rear axle driven electrically, this time by just one motor. The new system means the conventional propeller shaft design is gone, while also introducing a flat floor for greater interior comfort and space.
The Viziv Future Concept’s pièce de résistance will be a new evolution of Subaru’s EyeSight collision-avoidance system, this time upgraded to enable autonomous driving.
Subaru says the system combines all-direction radar sensing with high-accuracy GPS and map data to pinpoint the vehicle’s location, while the EyeSight camera system monitors the route ahead.
“Automatic driving is capable at all speeds on expressways, and automatic parking is supported at home or in commercial car parks,” the company said.
Next Impreza teased
Subaru has also handed down a pair of sketches to preview a new hatch concept dubbed simply ‘Impreza five-door Concept’, leaving little down as to its intention.
The company has yet to release any information for the new concept, although it is clear from the stylised sketches that the new Impreza will deliver a more sporting and dynamic look than the current model, introduced locally in 2012.
In 2015, Subaru Australia has sold just 3623 Impreza cars year-to-date, compared to 8631 Foresters and a combined 11,280 of its big new Liberty(Legacy) sedan and Outback SUV wagon.
The market’s preference for a tapered sports look has seen the Impreza beaten comprehensively in the sales race by more than a few rivals, like the recently facelifted Ford Focus (5126 year-to-date) and the ageing but resilient Lancer (6854), through to the hugely popular Mazda3 (29,513) and Corolla (31,903).
This means that, while the current Impreza isn’t quite Subaru Australia’s most important model, a sleek and more stylish next-generation model could be just the ticket for success in the crucial small-car market.
Watch for the Viziv Future Concept and Impreza Five-Door Concept to debut at the Tokyo motor show on October 28.