Subaru wants a new design language for its entire lineup to win new customers

Article by Christian Andrei, on August 29, 2010

Since Subaru's arrival in the US in the 1960s, it had come a long way. The brand used to be known as "cheap and ugly" and even now, it is described as quirky or sometimes bland" and "boxy." But even when faced with criticisms, Subaru sales grew stronger one of the few that grew even during the US recession.

Subaru now intends to build on its success and has hired an outsider to help with its design. It was in 2008 that Osamu Namba, who previously founded an independent styling studio, joined Subaru. Namba was given the task of unifying the Subaru look across models and attract new fans.

In an interview last month at the Tokyo headquarters of Fuji Heavy Industries Ltd. (Subaru's parent company), Namba said that the company aims to broaden the appeal to make it accessible to more than a small, loyal crowd.

Namba added that the carmaker has to add a more contemporary element. Subaru was more focused on giving its vehicles all-wheel drive, horizontal boxer engine and a functional interior instead of styling.

In the past, Subaru boxer engine's horizontally aligned pistons give a low front profile. However, they also lower the center of gravity, making the vehicle more agile. Meanwhile, the tall roofs provided a big cargo space for outdoor gear and aided visibility too.

Back then, Subaru prioritized performance and didn´t mind at all if the vehicle appeared funny. There had been attempts to modify the design but many of them were failures -- one example is the heavily criticized aircraft-inspired "propeller" grille of the mid-2000s.

Topics: subaru, design

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