Where did Subaru’s design go?

Ang and I have been tossing around the idea of getting a new car soon. We’re not actively in the market, but enough so that I started to look around at what’s available at the moment.

I have a couple of friends that have (second hand) Subarus, so I thought I’d check out the current range, only to be very disappointed. There are a number of great looking Subaru’s out there, but the current range look terrible. They seem to have lost their way some time around 2006/2007.

The New XV holds a little bit of promise (provided you like orange — which I do), but apart from that, I have trouble telling the Forester, Outback and Tribeca apart, and they all look very ordinary — I’m not sure which market segment they were targeting exactly, but they seem to have missed the mark terribly. This is from the company that developed the WRX and Impreza, which are now just shadows of their former glory.

Contrast this with Mazda’s appealing KODO design language across the range. This is a wonderful example of how to translate a design and brand concept across a wide variety of products, to great effect I think. Most directly look at the Tribeca compared to the CX-7. Yes, they are probably very different cars, but I think are compatible in intent/market (certainly they come across that way to a lay-person like myself). The CX-7 is not the most attractive vehicle in the fleet, and given the form factor was probably very difficult to translate the KODO design to. But the CX-7 has so much more character than the Subaru.

So, if we do go ahead and get a new (for us) car, I think we’ll be skipping the Subarus and looking elsewhere. At best, we’ll keep our search to pre-2007 models. Much as I would love to go on those fab recommendations from friends, the lack of good design is just too much to skip over…

  • They’re due a decent range… there used to be a sort of “two conservative generations then something cool” approach, but it seems to have devolved into a sort of “make them all a bit knobbly” thing. I really don’t get why they made the Forrester so big, either.

    Not that I have any desire to get rid of my MY06 “aero nose” Impreza, still love that car. So a bit moot for me.

    If you’re looking for a larger model I think second hand’s the go – there were some great looking ones a few years back and with Subi maintenance you should be able to buy second hand without too much drama. It’s really only the WRX and STi models you have to be wary of.

  • ‘devolved into a sort of “make them all a bit knobbly” thing’ — couldn’t have put it better myself… such a great description 🙂

    Your Impreza definitely falls into the “good” category in my book. So looks like it might just be a case of waiting a generation or two then…

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