WARWICK, U.K. – Prodrive, the British engineering company that also runs Subaru’s World Rally Championship team, has been given responsibility for a rushed major facelift of the current Impreza and WRX.
Stung by continual criticism of the new car’s styling and slowing sales in some markets, Tokyo sources claim Subaru-maker Fuji Heavy Industries Ltd. has ordered the reskin to involve every exterior panel except the doors, rear fenders and greenhouse. Marked for extinction are the car’s ugly, oversized headlights. In their place the revised model gets smaller lights that insiders claim are much better integrated into the overall design.
The new model, not expected to go on sale until early 2003, represents a major coup for Prodrive, which has worked hard to develop a close relationship with the Japanese manufacturer.
Prodrive styled the WRX STi Impreza, the minor facelift for the new 265-hp version, bringing to the car revised headlights and a bigger intake for the hood. Fuji’s confidence in Prodrive’s fast expanding design capability, based in the U.K., led to the decision to hand over responsibility for the revised car. However, it’s believed Fuji’s in-house design team still is in charge of styling the next all-new Impreza, not due until at least 2006 and expected to be built on a new platform.
Meanwhile, sources confirm that an all-new Subaru Forester will make its debut at the Geneva show in March.
Too bad. I kind of liked the "cute" look of the front lights. What bothers me is the "boring family sedan" rear sheet metal, which requires things like 9 inch spoilers to make it look like the monster performance car that it is. I think the rear should be redesigned more along the lines of the BMW M3. Just my 2 cents.
On the whole I like the WRX also. However, I think it always needs to have some sort of wing. My other biggest dislike of the car are the headlights. The size and shape are fine but all that open space inside just looks funny to me.