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Auto Show:  2011 Shanghai Auto Show

Subaru XV Concept - Shanghai Auto Show

April 26, 2011

On the eve of the latest Impreza launch in New York, and following last fall’s reveal of the Impreza Concept sedan in Los Angeles, Subaru debuted the XV Concept to the automotive media at this year’s Auto Shanghai. Although described as a new generation of crossover vehicle, it’s generally agreed that the concept suggests the overall look of the next Outback Sport. That might prove more in tune with $4/gallon gas and the need for a smaller urban footprint than today’s current (and somewhat swollen) Legacy-based Outback.

Engineered, in Subaru’s words, to “blend the crossover-like commanding silhouette with a fashionable image in a single, modern package,” the XV Concept is not unlike the seemingly dozens of compact SUVs that are planned to arrive in showrooms during the next twelve months. In point of fact, with the exception of Nissan’s Murano CrossCabriolet, there is seemingly nothing on the radars of product planners but the compact crossover.

To Subaru’s credit, the execution of the XV seems credible. Subaru suggests the design concept is “Protren,” a rather unfortunate contraction of “professional tool” and “trendy design.” We’d guess Subaru of America wasn’t consulted before the announcement. Intended to express the integration of authentic functionality as a professional tool with urban and stylish design.

With an almost fastback profile, the XV’s greenhouse is not unlike that of the dearly departed Pontiac Vibe. Its stance, of course, it is higher, and in concept form is shown with a widened track and over-the-top rubber, but the general impression is one of an aggressively- penned sport hatch sitting some three inches higher than the original rendering. And that driving position is seemingly perfect for a generation of drivers intent on hitting every pothole that appears just beyond their iPhone screen.

Under the hood is Subaru’s 2.0 liter four connected to a CVT transmission, a combo not unlike that planned for the production Impreza. With this competitive set heating up (Nissan’s Juke and Mini’s Countryman come most immediately to mind), there should be all sorts of urban interplay at car shows and in showrooms in the months ahead.

DAVID BOLDT began his automotive career in BMW and Saab showrooms in the 1980s, and he moved to automotive journalism in 1993. David has written for a variety of regional and national publications, and prior to joining AutoTrader, he managed media relations for a Japanese OEM.

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Subaru XV Concept - Shanghai Auto Show - Autotrader