Subaru Reality Checker: Concepts vs. Production Cars

Let me tell you, when it became clear that the 2015 Subaru WRX photos circulating around the net were real, my first reaction was to chuckle and shake my head (that, and saying to myself, “oh, Subaru…” in a South Park “oh, Butters…” kind of way). I had the same reaction when Subaru presented its LA Auto Show Legacy Concept earlier this week.

Why, you ask? Well, more or less for the same reasons, as in regards to the WRX, this year’s impressive NY Auto Show sports concept remains freshly imprinted in my mind, while in the second case, because I imagined how the production Legacy would look like (Josh Byrnes did more than that).

To be fair, Subaru isn’t the only automaker presenting over-the-top, and sometimes, even cool looking studies, supposedly previewing production cars only to heavily disappoint when the time comes to introduce these models in dealerships. We’ve seen this scenario play out numerous times in the past and will continue to do so in the future, but for a company like Subaru that tends to think differently in many other areas, one expects more, and not more of the same in this department.

And yes, I do understand that Subaru was never a brand of the likes of Alfa Romeo or even Fiat when it came to design, with the Japanese carmaker mostly treading between outright quirky and unreservedly boring, but some of its latest concepts received very positive reactions, and it’s a shame that it never really followed through.

In other words, when Subaru states that the Legacy concept “provides a look at the styling cues for future Legacy models”, to see what it really means, all you have to do is check out its recent prototypes that promised the same and compare them to the production cars they ended up inspiring.

As always, we’re open to your thoughts on the matter in the comments section below the virtual jump.

Concepts and production cars shown below include the WRX, Impreza and BRZ concept. You could say that the BRZ study is the only one that came close to the production car.

By John Halas




  • Isaac Suarez

    It’s true, IF this is the new WRX….this is a HUGE disappointment. For a car like the WRX that has all the right performance at a good price…MY GOD…if it looked the part they would FLY off the lot.

    Let’s hope the Scion FRS 4 door can correct this.

    • MarketAndChurch

      That’s what I keep telling people. Lower your expectations. This is Subaru after all, and their track record of bringing out beautiful production vehicles that mirror the concepts that they were originally inspired is not for this lifetime. Maybe in the afterlife, Subaru brings out a WRX sportscar, or a WRX Baha runner, but in this lifetime, all we can expect is more of the same, which is not that bad. Not that great, either, but again… it is a Subaru.

    • Zonda13

      So true, if the WRX was to look very similar to the concept it “would fly off the lot”; the concept looks magnificent. When Land Rover made the Range Rover Evoque to look very much like the concept that people were so enthusiastic about they hit a pot of gold

  • Perscitus
  • Shobin Drogan

    why even bother with the concepts when they are going to make something preditable

  • MuhammadSameh

    If they could just stick to the CONCEPT :/

  • Braddo

    They should have done the tail lamps on the BRZ production version…..


    At Subaru, there is an ongoing battle between their Design Department and their more powerful Uglying Department, which wins over in most of the cases. Any inspiring design gets shot down on the ground of: “being too attractive for a Subaru, it might boost sales beyond our production capacity”, “not quirky enough”, “Too expensive to produce”, “limited visibility”, “our loyal customers love to drive inconspicuous vehicles”, etc. So I’m not building up any expectation in this regard. However, I do expect a 1.6l, turbo-charged, direct injection engine, pumping out 180-200 HP, while being fuel-frugal.

  • Impreza

    I liked the Impreza when I saw it at the Autoshow. IMO it had pretty much the same interior space as the bigger Legacy, but in a smaller package. I preferred the driving position to it too. But… it just looked so dull! Had it looked more like the concept, Subaru would have made a sale!

  • And they still complain that young consumers are drifting away from buying new cars. .
    . Apparently they still dont understand why…

    • Beegeezee505

      This is gospel. Men may grow old but very few actually grow up. I don’t remember having posters of Corollas’ and Elantras’ on my wall.

      The 10 year old boy in me, was in love with concept. I would have put that poster on my wall for sure. I may still get one made up, just to spite Subaru.

      They may argue that the changes weren’t that drastic and that it still slightly resembles the concept, but answer me this: Would Scarlett Johannson be as beautiful if her eyes were just slightly farther apart, or if her lips were skinnier, or if she chubbier? No, she wouldn’t, and this only proves how subtlety in design can make a world of difference when the rubber meets the road.

  • Tinky-Winky

    Good performance and low price are not an excuse for ugly design. There are at least hundreds if not thousands of talented designers waiting for an opportunity to work in automotive industry.

  • pcurve

    funny how BRZ production actually looks slightly better than the concept. Must be the Toyota exec flexing their muscle.

  • dumblikeyou2

    Subarus don’t sell on looks, they sell on the fear of inclement weather. Ya know, the thing that people have been dealing with since the beginning of the automobile and no all-wheel or four-wheel drive?
    You don’t expect them to design an attractive car when most of their time is spent figuring out ways to convince people that CVT aren’t shit, and their two-liter engines aren’t underpowered and that symmetrical bullshit-drive isn’t necessary 99.9% of the time and isn’t providing any more control to the driver otherwise because the suspension is too soft to exploit the sporting benefits?
    Not that the Impreza is all that bad looking, but the WRX is for all intent and purpose. The Forester has a look only two mothers could love and the current Legacy makes its sales not on its ungainly proportions, but, yet again, the fear of inclement weather.

    Subarus have always been sort of unattractive, but in a cool way. Now, they look compromised. And then unattractive. Thankfully, for Subaru’s sake, there’s that good old fear of not being able to take off from a stop in a half-inch of snow to rely on. And it’s working quite well for them.

  • R1S0

    overall shapes are pretty close…. the difference makes wheels and lights….

    • Josh

      It’s not close, the proportions are completely different. The concept has a nice wide stance and makes the production model look anorexic.

  • hmfa

    I believe Subaru may have a problem in their production line. When we look at their concepts’ designs, it’s obvious they’re hiring someone capable of pushing the brand forward in that department but then it just looks like they’re not capable of delivering it in the final models for some reason, maybe they can’t produce models with such lines because of technological limitations or something. :

    Well… the production versions are not that different, I can find cues of the concepts in the finished prod models but they just lack that slickness (that wow effect) that makes a lot of people want to own the concept versions.

    I guess the concepts just show what Subaru could be and the final models show what it really is… sadly.

    • Josh

      But we shouldn’t have to be searching for design cues of the concept in the production model like it’s where’s wally. Whoever they have designing these concepts will probably end up walking away because they’re sick of how it ends up.

      • hmfa

        Yeah! I agree, with the technology that’s available at the moment, we shouldn’t have to be searching for design cues. The prod models are definitely not on par with the concepts.

  • SteersUright

    There’s no excuse for ugly design. And their interiors are even worse. They do have some of the best reliability ratings and I suspect thats why people keep buying them. I would love a reliable, good looking wrx as an alternative to my 101 issues 335i Msport. Got really excite when I saw the blue concept. But when I saw the real thing recently, its so offensive it’d feel like Subaru was laughing at me as I drove it off the lot.

  • Marcin

    Everyone her first needs to take a step back and chill. I still think the WRX looks good compared to the soccer mom forester! They took bits from these concepts and put them to other models. For example the impreza concept looks more like the upcoming WRX. In the end, Subaru provides VERY reliable cars that last! Boxer engine and AWD! I bet this car will still be a ton of fun to drive. In terms on looks I would go with this car over the new lexus IS that looks like someone had no idea what style to go with and decided to glue on other lights. Well put together, no flasher here from subaru… but can definitely make it one!

  • Charcoal

    The only true difference between the Impreza concepts and the production models lies in the greenhouse, which is coupe-like for the concepts. As a 4-door, the production Impreza has a profile that allows headroom, especially in the rear. People need to relax and understand that coupe-like profiles come at a cost [when the vehicle in question has 4 doors…], and Subaru knows that well enough. The same principle will apply to the Legacy when the production model is revealed.

  • AWDaTQ

    I like my ’13 better – I’ll wait for next-gen unless that’s a flop too. I like that the 15′ front end is similar to concept but, the rest of the car does not flow well at all. I also like the 6-speed upgrade but not the 2.0L downsize and slower 0-60mph time… Even if it has some newer technology behind the wheel, improvements under the hood and chassis… its nice, but not that impressed.

  • Josh

    I hope somebody from Subaru reads the millions of posts about how people love the concept. I’ve never read such positive feedback about a concept before. Subaru – just make it! It doesn’t have to be a WRX just make it a new model. I kind of wish Subaru were struggling with sales, then they’d be forced to do something fresh.

  • Axiom Ethos

    I really thought that wrx concept from the ny auto show was the real deal and it showed so much potential. The actual version is similar up front but lost the edginess with the back end and lights. Definitely feel’s like they turned the rear into a boring Bimmer instead of those futuristic lamps that reminded me of TRON. The wrx concept was great, though slightly bulky and Dodge Charger’esque. I’m happy to see they finally fixed the front end but they still need the rest of the car to gel together and be more exciting. Subie just needs to do justice with the concept they released if they want to invigorate the young crowd that the car appeals to and explode those sales numbers.

  • MK

    What a disappointment!!! I really liked the look of the concept, but production version is really bland. Only BRZ looks fairly close in concept vs production.

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