Subaru Showcases Muscular Viziv Concept and Likely the Next-gen WRX

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky

After some light teasing, Subaru unveiled the Viziv Performance Concept in its entirety at the Tokyo Motor Show — showing what is very likely to the next incarnation of the WRX. While that’s not a guarantee, the Viziv’s symmetrical all-wheel-drive, boxer engine, squared taillights, hood scoop, and overall shape appears to be an obvious evolution of the brand’s beloved performance model.

Enthusiasts are likely to be pleased, too. While it was never gorgeous, the WRX has enjoyed ho-hum styling since 2008. Things took a turn for the better after a mid-cycle facelift in late 2009, but even the current generation lacks some of the character of those earlier examples. On the upside, Subaru continued to refine what was essentially a budget automobile with highly desirable driving dynamics.

But if the next WRX can maintain the Viziv’s more extravagant styling cues while also holding onto improved interior quality and performance, well, then this is all very exciting.

Let’s not put the cart before the horse, though. Subaru hasn’t officially announced anything yet. In fact, we wouldn’t have much to go on had CarScoops and a handful of other outlets hadn’t broke the news slightly ahead of the vehicle’s official reveal in Japan. Those details have made it all the more obvious that the automaker is laying the groundwork for its next-generation performance sedan.

The Viziv Concept measures 182.2 inches in length, 76.7 inches in width, and 56.3 inches in height. Taking into account the fact that concept cars are typically designed with more girth and a shorter roofline than their real-world counterparts, that isn’t far from the current WRX’s dimensions. Subaru also said the Viziv comes with a very WRXish “high-performance” flat-four.

It does have new tricks up its sleeve, however. The manufacturer has bestowed the concept with perforated air outlets behind the wheel arches. Subaru said the design smooths out turbulent air, helping high-speed performance and fuel economy. There are also tiny wings at the top of each wheel arch. As difficult as it is to believe, these minuscule fins are supposed to further assist with aerodynamics and even improve handling. According to Automotive News, Subaru’s global design chief Mamoru Ishii said the company fully intends to use them on future production vehicles.

Like every concept vehicle, the Viziv is heavy on autonomous technology. It’s outfitted with an advanced version of the brand’s EyeSight safety system and takes things a step further by replacing mirrors with camera mounts and adding radar. Subaru has previously stated it wants to target Level 2 autonomy by 2020, so the proposed tech could be more fact than fiction — which is refreshing to see on a concept car.

Still, we’re more excited about the styling choices Subaru is making here. It previously announced that it wanted to stop making ugly cars and, while having a sensibly styled fleet was always part of its unique charm, nobody is going to mind seeing it strive for more beautiful bodywork. “From this car forward, we don’t want our cars to look good just parked in a show room but to look good running down the road,” Ishii said after the concept’s official debut.

[Images: Subaru]

Matt Posky
Matt Posky

A staunch consumer advocate tracking industry trends and regulation. Before joining TTAC, Matt spent a decade working for marketing and research firms based in NYC. Clients included several of the world’s largest automakers, global tire brands, and aftermarket part suppliers. Dissatisfied with the corporate world and resentful of having to wear suits everyday, he pivoted to writing about cars. Since then, that man has become an ardent supporter of the right-to-repair movement, been interviewed on the auto industry by national radio broadcasts, driven more rental cars than anyone ever should, participated in amateur rallying events, and received the requisite minimum training as sanctioned by the SCCA. Handy with a wrench, Matt grew up surrounded by Detroit auto workers and managed to get a pizza delivery job before he was legally eligible. He later found himself driving box trucks through Manhattan, guaranteeing future sympathy for actual truckers. He continues to conduct research pertaining to the automotive sector as an independent contractor and has since moved back to his native Michigan, closer to where the cars are born. A contrarian, Matt claims to prefer understeer — stating that front and all-wheel drive vehicles cater best to his driving style.

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  • Duncanator Duncanator on Oct 26, 2017

    I have learned over the decades to simply ignore concept vehicles. They must serve some purpose, perhaps for the Chinese to copy (Land Rover), but I don't know why they even bother with them. Show me a production vehicle and then I'll pay attention.

  • Lorenzo Lorenzo on Oct 26, 2017

    The reappearance of flat, sharp creases is promising, but the no-rear-headroom, no-rear-vision roofline is still there. The roofline will probably recede to the rear bumper before the formal upright limo rear window returns. The jellybean profile that started with the Taurus has been around so long, a three-box design would look new and exciting. That won't happen until the CAFE rules are dialed back, or eliminated entirely.

  • 1995 SC Modern 4 door sedans stink. The roofline on them is such that it wrecks both the back seat and trunk access in most models. Watch someone try to get their kid into a car seat in the back of a modern sedan. Then watch them try to get the stroller into the mail slot t of a trunk opening. I would happily trade the 2 MPG at highway speed that shape may be giving me for trunk and rear seat accessibility of the sedans before this stupidity took over. I ask you, back in the day when Sedans were king, would any of them with the compromises of modern sedans have sold well? So why do we expect them to sell today? Make them usable for the target audience again and just maybe people will buy them. Keep them just as they are and they'll keep buying crossovers which might be the point.
  • Kwik_Shift_Pro4X As much problems as I had with my '96 Chevy Impala SS.....I would love to try one again. I've seen a Dark Cherry Metallic one today and it looked great.
  • Susan O’Neil There is a good reason to keep the Chevrolet Malibu and other 4 door family sedans! You can transport your parents and other somewhat handicapped people comfortably and safety! If someone can stand and pivot you can put them in your car. An armrest in the back seat is appreciated and a handle above the door! Oh…and leather seats so your passenger can slide across the seat! 😊Plus, you can place a full sized wheelchair or walker in the trunk! The car sits a little lower…so it’s doable! I currently have a Ford Fusion and we have a Honda Accord. Our previous cars were Mercury Sables-excellent for transporting handicapped people and equipment! As the population ages-sedans are a very practical choice! POV from a retired handicapped advocate and daughter! 😊
  • Freddie Remember those ads that say "Call your doctor if you still have...after four hours"?You don't need to call your doctor, just get behind the wheel of a CUV. In fact, just look at one.I'm a car guy with finite resources; I can't afford a practical car during the week plus a fun car on the weekend. My solution is my Honda Civic Si 4 door sedan. Maybe yours is a Dodge Charger (a lot of new Chargers are still on dealer lots).
  • Daniel J Interesting in that we have several weeks where the temperature stays below 45 but all weather tires can't be found in a shop anywhere. I guess all seasons are "good enough".