Moment Of Truth: 2017 Subaru Impreza Production Vs Concept

Subaru has a history of presenting exciting concepts that turn into drab production cars, so it should be interesting to see how the new 2017 Impreza sedan and five-door hatchback models fare against their conceptualized partners.

A common misconception is that studies are always designed before their production counterparts. While that may hold true in some cases, especially when automakers are testing the waters, more often than not, concepts are dramatized versions of production cars that have already been signed off. The purpose here is to create buzz around upcoming models at high-profile motor shows.

Subaru, knows how to play this game all too well, only to frustrate enthusiasts when push comes to shove and production reality meets the needs and wants of mainstream buyers, who don’t always share our fervor for dynamically designed automobiles.

We’ve seen this happen with the previous (Impreza) WRX and Legacy sedan studies, and irritatingly, we’re witnessing it again with the fifth generation Impreza presented at this week’s New York Auto Show in both four-door sedan and five-door hatchback body styles.

If you place all four cars side by side zooming into their details, you’ll find plenty of common styling cues, ranging from the fancy scallop running under the shoulder before kicking over both wheel arches, to the shapes of the window line (saloon), taillights and front bumper.

Yet once you step back and observe the whole setup, the production cars look disappointingly pedestrian in comparison. It’s as if Subaru designers took the concepts and asked a couple of pensioners from Arkansas for their creative input.

Even if you eliminate the excessively large wheels from the equation, both the Impreza sedan and hatchback concepts look better proportioned with sexier rooflines that are heavier slanted at the back, and more aggressive and less anonymous snouts, while the same details that appear off and forced on the 2017 Impreza, look pretty striking on the two studies. Speaking of details, whoever signed off those tail lamps on the production car should have their eyes checked for strabismus…

2017 Subaru Impreza Hatch Vs. Concept

2017 Subaru Impreza Sedan Vs. Concept

  • ME

    Blame Fuji Heavy Industries for using a very large sum of development cost in concept design and not in production design, which is not even second.

    • Matt

      Concept design does not require much development cost, as components do not need to be tested and certified – nor does it require extensive wind-tunnel and aerodynamic testing and analysis.

      Production car design is far costlier and complicated. I mean, the concept has blacked-out windows because it doesn’t even have an interior.

      • TopHatProductions115

        I must ask this – are people disappointed about the interior design, or the the fact that the car doesn’t look anything like the concept?

        Some of the design cues on the concept can be done with aftermarket kits, so I am not fully convinced of the fact that Subaru can’t try just a little harder to at least keep the good-looking concept headlights (or use a bit of carbon-fiber to emulate the flow lines)…


  • c3vzn

    We’ve come to a stage in technology where everything about the concept exterior can be kept the same except for the wing cameras (due to regulations). At the very least Subaru should be keeping the lights identical.

    • Six_Tymes

      good and and I agree about the lights.

  • Craig

    This is one of the reasons I’m not a big fan of concepts. 99% of the time the ‘real thing’ is disappointing. [As it is in this case]

    • thunder bolt

      That’s why we have ‘Custom Auto Body’ shops.
      I like to call it ‘Cars Plastic Surgery’ centers.

    • Rick Alexander

      Toyota/Lexus is proof positive that this doesn’t have to be the case. The unveiling of the LC500 to the masses gives hope to true car enthusiasts, that the industry does listen. The production LC 500 actually looks better than the LF LC Concept which it’s based on. Car makers are starting to realize that if they want to move product, they better start giving consumers more exciting vehicles (bang for the buck) or we’ll shop elsewhere. Just take a look at the new Civic, or the interiors of the Big Three lately, and it’s clear that the industry is getting the message. Subaru’s latest offering already looks dated, and it hasn’t even hit showrooms yet. Right now, Subaru is the Blackberry of the car industry (IMO). Oh my, I said it.

    • MultiKdizzle

      The production model would’ve looked dated in 2006.

      • 31/12/2999

        I agree

  • Kash

    they could’ve at least made the production car’s grille the same size as the concept’s.

  • Six Thousand Times

    Apart from all the wingeing, it IS slightly weird that the hatchback has LEDs but the sedan/saloon does not. Different trim levels, perhaps? And I’m starting to fear that weight has gone up. And, please let those “hybrid” WRX rumours be false.

  • Truth is hard to swallow

  • Shobin Drogan

    Its madness that they even left out the concept tail lights which actually look like prettier but production ready tail lights anyway, they still managed to find a way to water it down.

  • emjayay

    On the other hand, a big difference between the real thing and the concept is a lower belt line particularly in the rear seat area and therefore bigger side windows, which is an improvement. How cool a car looks is not as important as, you know, seeing out. I’m talkin’ to you, Camaro designers.

    Also, not having door handles always looks cooler. Production cars tend to have them.

    But thanks Carscoops for once again posting this kind of comparison photo thing.

  • Mr_Fanta_Pants

    Other than the fact they’ve got 4 wheels they look nothing alike.

    • Zandit75

      But they couldn’t even get them similar.

  • JJ

    A style free car

  • Braddo

    Why is anyone suprised. They do this all the time. Their cars are so dull – i would never even consider looking at buying one. And yes it does look like they for pensioners to finish it off. What are they scared of? Being too modern? ?

    • BlazingSwordofTruth

      beauty is only skin deep. A beautiful shape wrapped around a mediocre car is still a mediocre car. subarus have never been beautiful cars on the outside. they’re versatile, safe, dependable and surefooted. subaru fans find as much beauty in that as you do in styling.

      it’s simply a different set of priorities.

      You might not care about these things now, but I guarantee at some point, you start to care less about what other people think about your car and more about what it can do for you beyond simply looking good.

      • Anders Gustav

        You are spot on. Subaru is about function- not form.

  • Liam Paul

    its shameful to show such nice looking concepts that really look like they could be production models then to bring designs to production that look dated already..

  • Finkployd


  • Six_Tymes

    No contest. the concept obviously way better than production.

  • Zandit75

    This is like one of those things you see in the newspaper, spot the 5 differences in these two pictures…..Except this is way more difficult. Spot 5 things they kept identical.
    Damn near impossible.

  • Jake

    I guess the biggest tragedy is that they are clearly capable of designing beautiful, stunning bodywork. Yet when it comes to the production models, they come out looking awkward and have.. well.. those tail lights.

  • PB

    Two word. “production engineering”.

  • Bo Hanan

    Frankly, the bridge between the two designs isn’t that wide. Subaru should either
    stop promising so much in their concepts- or start delivering on their promises.

  • Tumbi Mtika

    Nice to see the 9th generation Civic left its mark…

  • Tumbi Mtika

    They tried to pull an Audi with the production design…

  • haudit

    Both production models are pretty clumsy looking, but the hatchback commits the cardinal sin (for me) of having not only one, but two rear quarterlights – one on the rear door, and the other mounted in the pillar behind it. I’d prefer to see one or the other, but to have both just smacks of not really giving a toss about the car’s aesthetics.

  • Andrew Ngo

    The Subaru concepts always look so smart and cool but the end products look so boring. Something is lost in translation.

  • Dwayne Lawrence

    Maybe the STI will look like the concept… Fingers crossed

  • Crispijn

    I honestly don’t think they’re too far away. Yeah, the concepts look more aggressive and intimidating, but the basic lines are there – look at the indentation on the door or around the front lights. It’s just mellowed down, as one can expect from a car for less than 24k USD.

    Taillights are a bit of a let down, and they could try to shorten the front overhang in the production model. But then again, the whole engine is in front of the wheels, it always will be longer than in transverse layout.

  • klowik

    There’s always something to hate in every generation of Subaru styling.

  • AlamoJoe

    OMG the production has a rear bumper, door handles, usable mirrors and is only inch and a half bigger in each direction… Really people? the concept and production are very similar. Just about all the lines are the same from concept to production. (this is what a concept shows off, not size) the only real difference is the hatch door lost its hard lines that stuck out a bit in the concept and is flat in the production. The rear hatch is my only disappointment as I thought this would give the car a nice tourer look, but they didn’t keep it.

  • Incog Nito

    No comment necesarry. Pictures are speaking on their behalf.

  • 31/12/2999

    Honda and Toyota always makes theirs production cars 90% like theirs concept cars, but Subaru always change the rules bringing us a stupid design car, what the hell is happening with this company? Where is the exciting Subaru of the 90’s and earlier 2000’s?

  • Althea Later

    While not bad looking, it seems like the most derivative Subaru to date. It could easily be an Acura ILX hatchback (if it existed), or that small Infinity SUV. And for the love of god, can a stylist think up a new taillight design already!!!!???? Every car has the same wraparound come to an upswept point design with mismatched sections between the trunk and the fender.

  • Mark Collison

    i think they look very similar
    i’d buy one

  • Subi-Rubicon1

    In my opinion, Subaru seems to cater to their loyal fan base, thus keeping the quirky (to some ugly) designs, however as some of you have stated, Subaru fans aren’t buying Subaru’s for their looks alone.

  • MarkoS

    Really they are quite close for a main-stream entry level car. Quit the whining!

  • mik3ymomo .

    BMW seems to do better at actually producing the cars they show. Who could imagine an i8 becoming reality? Too bad Subaru wastes people’s time with their concepts.

  • Ken

    You can get a base Corolla with LED projector headlights and yet the much more expensive Subaru relies on crappy reflector headlights. Come on ya stingy bastards…

  • TopHatProductions115

    This is why we have people like Factory Five 🙂

  • Linus Poon

    I will admit the final design doesn’t look bad. But it isn’t exactly “impreza-esque”. It’s starting to look a corolla from the front and a camry from the back. Let’s just hope the wrx doesn’t disappoint. But I mean, there’s always the levorg.

  • G.S.K. herzak

    Subaru has to have the worst most boring designers. Hell, even Toyota looks nice. But Subaru continues to use engineers as car designers. Their concepts (remember Silver Impreza and Blue WRX) are fantastic but their results are boring and uninspiring.
    Check out the latest Mazda 3 or Honda Civic to see how real designing at good price is done!!
    The Japanese overall have lost their mojo, Germany & Korea are much better at taking risks. Japan wants to avoid risk- like all aging societies!

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