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BBC Autos

Subaru reveals future-shock WRX Concept

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Booming music, slinky models and smoke machines are longstanding auto-show staples, especially for American and European carmakers.

But sensible-shoes Subaru has more commonly played by drier scripts, finishing with an executive inviting journalists to examine the new models firsthand. So we should excuse Subaru for creating some titillation around the surprising revelation of the WRX Concept.

Put simply, the concept is red hot. Its sinuous lines suggest a stretched BRZ with four doors and a back seat. If anything, this car looks better than that rear-drive coupe, perhaps the best-looking Subaru ever – though the Viziv Concept, show in Geneva on 5 March, could certainly contest that claim.

The car retains its Impreza all-wheel-drive platform, but while the familiar hardware remains, the eventual WRX will be tuned for on-road handling characteristics rather than the gravel-strewn rally world inhabited by WRXs past, according to brand spokesman Dominick Infante. Though no timetable was announced for the car’s introduction, Subaru has typically reserved major global product launches for the Tokyo salon in November, so put your smart money in yen.

Subaru also brought its first production hybrid, based on its new XV Crosstrek, which will hit US dealers late this year.

The powertrain is comprised of a 13.4-horsepower electric motor powered by a 13.5kW nickel-metal hydride battery pack, working with Subaru’s 2-litre horizontally opposed four-cylinder boxer engine. The whole system adds about 300 pounds of weight, but Subaru promises that the end product will be one of the most efficient crossovers available in the US when the EPA numbers are finalised.

Some of the extra weight comes in the form of additional sound insulation and a more advanced air conditioning system to work when the gasoline engine is not running. The battery pack also cuts slightly into the rear cargo space.

The hybrid may have been overshadowed by the smoke, loud music and comely, ahem, product representatives flanking the WRX Concept, but its presence showed that there would still be room for crunchy granola at Subaru's future product buffet.

2014 Subaru XV Crosstrek Hybrid. (Subaru of America)

2014 Subaru XV Crosstrek Hybrid. (Subaru of America)