Subaru are currently working at the successor for the Impreza WRX. Spy photographers caught several test vehicles. It appears that the new vehicle will be a hatchback and the overall design is inspired by that of the B5-THP concept car. By making the Impreza a hatchback, Subaru will throw the WRX STI against cars like the Volkswagen Golf GTI, Opel Astra OPC or Ford Focus ST. Do the European and American hot-hatches stand a chance?
As test vehicles indicate the next Impreza, including the WRX model will be offered in a hatchback body. This would be a smart move from Subaru, as the Impreza is having a hard time competing against European sedans and wagons. Thing should be a bit easier in the compact hatchback segment were the WRX could eat alive competitors such as the Golf GTI, Opel Astra OPC, Ford Focus ST and even Audi S3 or even BMW 130i. In addition, with the Subaru pricing, the Japanese vehicle could also be cheaper than the Europeans could.
The general design lines of the upcoming Impreza seem to have been previewed by the 2005 B5-TPH concept-car. While the car’s fancy hybrid technology will not make it to production, some design lines certainly will. Our team of artists has prepared several computer illustrations to point where the next WRX is heading. The front fascia of the B5 Concept seems pretty close to production. The lights will get conventional lamps but their shape is expected to be maintained. Same for the radiator grille, that will feature a regular black plastic net instead of the shiny painted one on the concept.
The front spoiler will be aggressive and will host a large air intake in order to meet the cooling needs of the turbocharged boxer engine on the WRX. The iconic air intake on the hood will be most likely preserved, as it is one element that clearly indicates what the car is. Large round fog lights complete the rally-car look of the front side.
Subaru official sketch
The rear will drop the fantasy optics of the B5-THP and will feature some conventional lights, with a different shape, but similar technology to that of the current models. The exhaust will be probably divided in two, in order to follow the two banks of cylinders the engine has, and also offer a sportier look.
Three and five-doors models are expected for the hatchback models; the sedan and the station wagon, which are very likely to be kept in the range, will offer four and five doors.
Technologically speaking the Impreza WRX will be an evolution and not a revolution. Previous generations of WRX have borrowed most of their technology from the WRC rally-cars, but there are still a lot of elements to be upgraded in order to allow the production car to match the performance of the racer.
The engine will be the same 2.5 liters supercharged 4 cylinders boxer, but with an updated turbo, that will offer up to 330 bhp and even more on some markets (in Japan the power of the production vehicle is restricted by a gentleman agreement to 280 bhp). Also updated should be the high-performance four-wheel drive system featured on the WRX with new active differentials. It is not excluded that some components to be made out of aluminum, as most manufacturers these days try to save weight in order increase performance without raising the fuel consumption.
A launch date for the new Impreza has not been officially announced, but judging on the level of development of the current test cars, they should be ready for production as late as 2008.
The Imprezais Subaru’s compact vehicle first introduced in 1993. It had two generations so far with numerous face-lifts. It was one of the most successful vehicles ever in the World Rally Championships. In the past fifteen years many contestants went in an out the WRC, the Subaru Impreza being one of the few consistent vehicles.
The USA Impreza line was restyled for 2006 and in addition given the all-conquering 300-horsepower WRX STI model several performance enhancements. On the safety front, all Impreza models gain the new dual stage Subaru Advanced Airbag System.
Following an interior redesign for 2005, all Subaru Impreza models have been restyled for 2006 to reflect the new brand identity. The new Subaru signature front-end design for Impreza features a three-section mesh-type grill inspired by the company’s aircraft heritage, plus boldly styled headlights with smoke-tinted lenses. All 2006 Impreza models are also identified by a new tail lamp cluster design. The 2006 WRX STI is also distinguished by the lower-profile hood scoop from the standard WRX to aid forward visibility. Daytime running lights (DRL) are added to the safety roster to make the WRX STI more visible to other drivers. A new roof vane spoiler, inspired by the Impreza World Rally Championship competition car, contributes to stability at track speeds and reinforces the car’s high-performance attitude.
The WRX STI received several significant chassis performance enhancements for 2005, including wider wheels. For 2006, the addition of a steering sensor input to the DCCD All-Wheel Drive system enhances power distribution response by more accurately relaying the car’s cornering situation. The WRX STI is based on the Impreza WRX platform but is completely re-engineered to provide even higher levels of acceleration, handling and braking performance that challenge the world’s best sports cars. In its first year, the WRX STI won Road & Track magazine’s “Best Car 2004” Reader’s Choice Award, edging out several dedicated sports cars, including the Porsche 911 GT3.
Click here to read more on the 2006 Subaru Impreza WRX STI on TopSpeed.
The vehicle that is told to have previewed the future Impreza in terms of design is the Subaru B5-TPH prototype. This vehicle presented in 2005 carries a revolutionary powertrain system beneath sporty bodywork. This vehicle’s TPH powertrain is a strategically important technology for the power source of clean-energy vehicles and will be incorporated with the Subaru core technologies including the Subaru Boxer Engine and Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive system.
The Subaru TPH powertrain in the B5-TPH places a thin, 10-kW motor generator between a vehicle’s engine and its automatic transmission. The combination of the motor-generator and the turbocharged Subaru Boxer Engine creates a system that not only provides power in the mid-speed ranges when the turbocharger is active — as with conventional turbo models — but it also delivers excellent acceleration and fuel economy. This superb, all-range performance has been enabled by electric motor-assist, a feature that is designed to boost engine torque at low speeds.
For even greater efficiency, the TPH gasoline engine adopts the Miller Cycle. A Miller-cycle engine leaves the intake valve open during part of the compression stroke, effectively shortening the compression stroke to avoid detonation. However, due to the
turbocharger, the cylinder still packs a larger “charge” than would a conventional-cycle engine. In the Subaru B5-TPH, the Miller Cycle turbo boxer engine operates up to 30 percent more efficiently than a conventional gasoline engine.
If you want to read more about the Subaru B5 TPH prototype click here.
As the Impreza is about to be presented as a hatchback, one of the main competitors for the WRX will be the king of the hot-hatches, the Volkswagen GTI. For 2006 the GTI fans won’t miss the V6, however, once they’ve driven the new 2.0-liter FSI turbo-charged four, which matches the 2.8 VR6’s power output and exceeds its torque. FSI stands for fuel straight injection (gasoline direct injection) which helps this new sixteen-valve DOHC engine make 197 hp and, even more impressive, 207 lb-ft of torque.
Those are good numbers, but what puts the smile on your face is the eagerness with which the Volkswagen GTI responds. The full helping of torque is available almost no matter where you are on the tach (from 1800 to 5000 rpm), and the throttle response is absolutely linear. There’s no putting your foot in it, waiting for the boost, then-whoa-backing out again. It’s great for powering through long, unreeling curves, as well as for stop-and-go driving. In go-go-go driving, the FSI turbo charges past its 6500-rpm redline to a gentle rev cut at 7000. Electronics will hold the car to 130 mph (same as today’s GTI), but we managed 135 on the autobahn, running out of room before we could get to the claimed maximum of 146 mph.
A comprehensive article on the 2006 VW Golf GTI can be found here.
Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X rendering
The more traditional competitor of the Impreza is a car that has matching performance in the rally events the Mitsubishi Lancer. The upcoming Lancer Evo X was previewed with two show cars: the Concept-Sportback displayed at Frankfurt and the Concept-X that was unveiled at Tokyo. While the Sportback is a hatchback, the Concept-X is a sedan and therefore even closer to the new Evolution X we’ll see in 2007. Built using a new platform co-developed with DaimlerChrysler, the Concept-X has a 122-cui turbo four engine producing 300 bhp, a twin-clutch transmission, a further-developed all-wheel-drive system, and lightweight, all-aluminum bodywork. Best of all, the design leaves the current car’s econobox roots far behind.
For the new EVO there will be made extensive use of aluminum in the roof, engine hood and other body panels. Chassis performance will be substantially improved with the introduction of Mitsubishi’s latest 4WD-based Super All Wheel Control (S-AWC) vehicle dynamics control system. The incarnation of driving pleasure; this highly advanced technical specification will make EVO X a showcase on wheels for Mitsubishi Motors’ quintessential road performance technology.
As the Concept X shows we can expect a form with lines that are purposeful and handsome; a form that symbolizes the New Mitsubishi Motors Design while retaining the spartan performance image that defines the Lancer Evolution series.
The exterior design will be distinguished by its eye-catching oversized grille, the front visage borrows design cues from a jet fighter to hint broadly at the huge quantities of air it draws in and at the car’s road-hugging stability. The brand-identifying 3-diamond logo on the leading edge of the engine hood is another distinguishing element of the new-age Evolution design.
Click here to read our complete 2007 Mitsubishi Lancer EVO X preview.