Monday, May 16, 2011

The downfall of the Impreza

With the recent unveiling of the 2012 Subaru Impreza, all hope is lost of Subaru ever building a Subaru for enthusiasts again. The Impreza has completed its transition from steroid-injected, super aggressive rally-inspired road car to beige, fat, middle-aged old box. The current generation is bad enough - it looks like a Daewoo - but what they've done to the next generation model is sad confirmation that there will never be another Impreza. At least not as Subaru fans would know it. The sweet spot for this car was the 2000 model year. In 1999 GM bought a stake in Subaru and their influence was first apparent with the hideous round headlight saga in 2002. The US designers were usurped for the 2004 model and there was a glimmer of hope again. However GM couldn't make head nor tail of Subaru and so dumped their stake in 2005. By that point Subaru were saddled with GM's legacy and went from making AWD enthusiasts cars to dabbling in full-sized SUVs with the hideous Tribeca. Worse, in an attempt to "cement the brand", they started trying to put the Tribeca's new corporate nose on all their cars as evidenced by the 2006 Impreza. When the Tribeca appeared, it was the same omen of doom for Subaru fans as the Cayman was for Porsche. It was the point where they stopped innovating, and started playing "me too". ie. "Everyone else has an SUV so we need one too!" - a surefire sign of GM's meddling. It was wrong when Porsche did it, and it was wrong when Subaru did it. By 2008, proof of this was in the pudding. With Toyota now owning GM's share, the 2008 Impreza became a bland Asian-looking box. You couldn't tell one apart from any other vehicle on the road because it had been emasculated. All defining features of the Impreza were gone, instead replaced with a blancmange body style and horror of horrors - a hatchback. Subaru went from unique to invisible in one step. The two-year product cycle went out the window too and we had to put up with this abomination of a vehicle for four years until now. Finally - one last chance. Can Subaru repair the damage? No. The 2012 Impreza is even more emasculated. In 2008 they at least kept the hood scoop. Now even that has gone almost as if they're ashamed of it. The rest of the car has taken on even more of the look of an econobox - a family car that will end up full of children's vomit and dog spit on the inside of the windows. It's a CamryFocusCivic now.
The Impreza has gone from a car I'd fight to own, to one I wouldn't be seen dead in.
So long Impreza. We knew you well.


Anonymous said...

very true for the base model impreza, but the STI trim line still seems to have a pair and looks incredibly mean

Micah Cameron said...

Don't worry, there's still the Evo.

Anonymous said...

I own an '09 WRX (US-spec) and while I agree the design started going down the drain in '08, I think the mechanicals are still brilliant. There are reports from certain car magazines that claim the '09 WRX does 0-60mph faster than the '08 STi. I don't believe 0-60mph times are particularly meaningful in everyday driving, but I do appreciate the fact that between MY08 and MY09 Subaru decided to add more power to the WRX. Furthermore, the rawness of the vehicle, the roar of the stock tires, the wind noise, the whine of the turbocharger as it spools, the way the boxer engine vibrates at idle, contribute to a visceral experience that is dulled down in most other current production cars by weight and luxury equipment. While my points of reference are quite distant from the WRX (an Infiniti M35x, a '96 Audi A4 Quattro and several SUV's and trucks from the 90's), the car as an overall package, I think, is still quite true to the rally-inspired roots from which it was born. The MY12 pictures are certainly disheartening though. If exterior design translates to performance, sensation and enjoyment I'll be right there beside you at the funeral pyre. But I still think, or maybe hope, that Subaru will engineer everything under the skin to provide the same experience that Impreza's of yore did. Long story short, I'm putting a little faith in Subaru to do right by the community that's followed the Impreza over the years.

tom_usenet said...

The canonical names for the models listed in this blog are "Classic", "Bug-Eye", "Peanut", "Pig Nose" and "Ugly Betty". Yes, glasses and all. What will we call the 2012 model?

Wolf said...

Such a shame
When the 08 came out , I hated it. The exact words I used to describe it were "It looks like a hungover VW Golf". Where it should look like a sedan that just came back from the gym.
But , recently it became clear to me why they did it. I saw one parked next to a Ford Focus RS. The styling is nearly identical.
And yeah , the 12 model looks even worse.

Just one more reason to love my MY98.

Klaas said...

I don't agree. You've posted images of the WRX or STI version, but the 2012 you preview is just the regular Impreza. To be honest the base Impreza has always been a boring car to look at. I'm certain it will look better than the 'current' model once all the spoilers, bumpers and wings are fitted. Not to mention the bonnet scoop.