2009 Detroit Show: Subaru Legacy Concept

January 11, 2009

Two years ago at Detroit, Subaru unveiled a modestly restyled and repackaged—but not all new—Legacy. Now it's almost time for a completely new one.

The Subaru Legacy Concept that the automaker showed for the first time today, at the North American International Auto Show, shows a “vision of what a future Legacy sedan might look like,” according to Tom Doll, the executive VP of Subaru of America. Doll added that “people seem to forget that we’ve been making sedans for a long time.”

The new Concept also celebrates the 20th anniversary of the model which, in rugged Outback and sporty GT trim and by making all-wheel drive standard on every vehicle, saved the brand from a near retreat from the U.S. market in the mid-1990s.

Designed by the company’s head of design, Osamu Namba, the Legacy Concept takes a new direction compared to the current Legacy, with a chunky, imposing face, and a “design line” that develops near the top of the fender and runs all the way into the taillights—a departure from the smooth, almost slab-sided flanks of the current car. The front design represents a nice compromise, as down below there are some WRC influences in the wide stance and gaping front air dam, yet it also has a sophisticated look thanks to the delicately shaped headlights. At the back, the LED lamps taper inward from the side crease, and the decklid doesn’t rise as high as those of some sedans, which is refreshing.

Inside, the theme is “high definition” according to Namba, with a much more glitzy look compared to current and former Legacys. The three-spoke steering wheel with round hub, combined with the abundance of textured matte-black and matte-aluminum, looks very Mazda, but the Legacy has a welcome elegance as well, with the shift bezel maintaining a jewel-like luster. Gauges are backed in a cool blue, and a flat-panel touch scren controls a range of features, including navigation. The back seat looks considerably more plush, with power controls and a large armrest and screens built into the back of the front seats.

Subaru had no word on engines in the next-generation Legacy, though it’s almost certain that the family of horizontally opposed engines (part of the automaker’s identity) will return.

The automaker has been widening the differences between its sedans and wagons, design and styling-wise, so we expect similar sheetmetal, especially in front, but a decidedly different overall look for the Outback.

Curiously, the concept has some elements—such as more creases and more chrome—that seem to be going out of vogue in some segments of the market. But that’s one of the things that we like about the show cars this year, versus a few shows back when every crossover SUV concept and sedan concept seemed to look alike. No single manner of detailing has swept across all the automakers this year, and being a little different is good.

2009 Subaru Legacy Concept

2009 Subaru Legacy Concept

Enlarge Photo

2009 Subaru Legacy Concept

2009 Subaru Legacy Concept

Enlarge Photo

2009 Subaru Legacy Concept

2009 Subaru Legacy Concept

Enlarge Photo

2009 Subaru Legacy Concept

2009 Subaru Legacy Concept

Enlarge Photo

2009 Subaru Legacy Concept

2009 Subaru Legacy Concept

Enlarge Photo

2009 Subaru Legacy Concept

2009 Subaru Legacy Concept

Enlarge Photo

2009 Subaru Legacy Concept

2009 Subaru Legacy Concept

Enlarge Photo

2009 Subaru Legacy Concept

2009 Subaru Legacy Concept

Enlarge Photo
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