Preview by Paul Williams, photos by Paul Williams and Jonathan Yarkony

It’s not often that you’ll see a Subaru Legacy Concept outshine an all-new version of the Subaru WRX, but in my opinion, that’s what happened at the 2013 Los Angeles Auto Show. I guess Subaru planned it this way. After all, they had two cars to unveil at one scheduled event, choosing to introduce the 2015 WRX first, following up with the Legacy Concept. The opening act and the headliner!

The scheduling choice could have backfired, as the WRX has loyal fans who’ve been waiting impatiently for the new model for several years. It didn’t disappoint, if “steady as she goes” is what you’re after with the WRX, which other than adding a touch more power and less weight, retains its signature character and looks. It “ain’t broke,” right? And Subaru has wisely not tried to ‘fix’ it.

But the Legacy, whose 25th anniversary is celebrated by the company in 2014, needed this world premiere concept to point somewhere more exciting than the status quo. The reason is simple: design is selling (check out Hyundai and Kia) and Subaru has been design-challenged for too long.

Subaru Legacy Concept Senior Project General Manager Masayuki Uchida knows this. Present at the unveiling, and in charge of Legacy Concept development, he suggested in conversation that “The Koreans are helping me out,” when it comes to convincing Subaru management in Japan that the Legacy Concept should chart a new, and dare I use the overused “bold” direction for the brand. I think it’s about time.

Subaru Legacy ConceptSubaru Legacy Concept
Subaru Legacy Concept. Click image to enlarge

Turns out that when the wraps were pulled off the Legacy Concept, scattered applause broke out from the assembled journalists. That’s uncommon, but auto writers often root for the underdog and I think have respect for the solid engineering developed by Subaru over the years. “If only they looked good,” is the typical refrain. Well, the Subaru Legacy Concept looks beyond good. It looks great!

To be accurate, the car shown at the Los Angeles show is not the car that will be built. The show car is deliberately oversized for one thing, “To better show off its lines,” according to Uchida-san. And those skinny mirrors and monster 21-inch wheels won’t last either. But our Subaru PR people in Canada assure us that this is the look of the new Legacy, that this design indeed does represent the future direction of Subaru design, and that “about 70 percent” of what we see in the Legacy Concept will translate to the new sedan.

The grille is certainly distinctive and is the best grille Subaru’s produced… well, ever. First seen on the Subaru Visiv Concept as revealed at the 2013 Geneva Auto Show, it gives the Legacy Concept real presence, making a strong statement right away. But, did anybody notice the similarity between it and the grille of the Ford Edge Concept, also shown at Los Angeles? Weird how these things happen.

Subaru Legacy Concept
Subaru Legacy Concept. Click image to enlarge

The colour of the Subaru Legacy Concept is “Ocean Silver Metallic,” a special blend that consists of “light blue metallic silver with a metallic sheen.” It best displays the Legacy Concept’s lines and surfaces, according to Subaru, showing the new styling off to good effect.

In profile, the Legacy Concept obviously describes a coupe silhouette, typically giving the impression of speed and power. This is a current practice for sedans, with some manufacturers actually calling their examples “four-door coupes.”

The interior design is as dramatic as the exterior, and is a complete departure when compared with current Subaru cabins. This is a four-seat vehicle, which certainly won’t be carried into production, but likely some of the themes will. Again, we see an emphasis on sportiness.

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