Subaru Hybrid Tourer Concept - click above for high-res image gallery

As the old saying goes, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. And while many of us look at a Subaru and describe the brand's styling as "awkward" or "quirky," owners of the competent, all-wheel drive conveyances tend to show unconditional love. More recent, Subaru designs like the Legacy or Impreza are less "outside the box" than past efforts, but some hardcore Subaru fanatics look at the change in styling as an aesthetic neutering. Still, sales have improved immensely over the past few years, as Subaru has not only survived the Great Recession, but thrived. So what's in store for the future of Subaru styling?

In a recent interview with AutoWeek, Subaru's new design boss Osamu Namba claims that the Japanese automaker is looking to ditch its odd designs once and for all, with cleaner lines that appeal to a wider audience. Namba joined Subaru back in 2008 after spending a decade heading his own design firm, and he's said to be working on the next-generation Impreza; his first production Subaru. But to see where Subaru's design direction could go, look no further than the Hybrid Tourer Concept from the 2009 Tokyo Motor Show. The Namba-designed concept is a totally new look for Subaru, with clean, modern lines and an aesthetic that's far less challenging than past models.

Perhaps the biggest challenge for the Subaru design staff is to improve styling without alienating its loyal audience. While some critics may mention that the Hybrid Tourer Concept would rub Subaru owners the wrong way, the Japanese automaker is hoping that those loyal fans will continue to love their products because of their all-wheel drive, boxer engine and entertaining driving characteristics. Head over to AW to read over the interesting article about Namba and the future of Subaru design, and make sure to weigh in on the poll below.


Will a new design direction modeled after the Hybrid Tourer Concept sit well with hard-core Subaru fans?
I like my Subarus just the way they are3219 (31.8%)
A three-humped camel looks better than the typical Subaru2006 (19.8%)
I'd like to see a new design direction but not like the Hybrid Tourer Concept3141 (31.0%)
I love the Hybrid Tourer Concept; sign me up for one right now1753 (17.3%)

[Source: AutoWeek]