Subaru’s new crossover concept may be a glimpse into the future of the Japanese all-wheel-drive merchant
5/12/14 3:38 pm chumakdenis 1
Subaru engineers have always been conservative and weren't giving designers to create something really unique.
But now the Viziv Concept offers a glimpse at a possible styling direction for the brand’s beloved Outback wagon. The concept, whose name is derived – in keeping with the curiously forced argot of automakers – from the phrase “vision in innovation”, aims to strike a balance between “a solid-looking body and a condensed cabin”.
Whatever the motivation, the end result is quite handsome, and it is not difficult (or unpleasant) to imagine elements of the Viziv defining future Subaru cars. And what lies beneath the Viziv’s skin is equally noteworthy.
The concept naturally employs all-wheel drive, but unlike Subaru’s well-known symmetrical setup, which uses a propeller shaft and a differential to drive the rear wheels, the Viziv is fitted with a very different arrangement.
Swiss event was an opportunity for Subaru to mix with Europe’s most elite and ostentatious brands, soak up champagne, and grab a few headlines. They’ve certainly achieved that last bit with the Viziv 2, a plug-in hybrid concept that’s a maple-syrup farmer’s sticky dream. Could this hatch be the budget, earth-friendly alternative to the three-door Range Rover Evoque?
Subaru describes the Viziv 2 (from the phrase “Vision for Innovation”) as a “future-generation crossover,” and judging by the previous two concepts - the Viziv Evolution in Tokyo and the first Viviz at last year's Geneva motor show - that future is getting closer. The squared-off, upright nose and the clean side detailing, especially the shoulder line that gently rises from the front fenders to the taillamps, mimics Subaru’s new design language that debuted on the 2015 Legacy. But since the Viziv 2 was made for Geneva, Subaru pitched a wicked curveball: Two trick body panels lift and slide from the rear fenders to reveal a set of hidden back doors. With its front butterfly doors open wide, the Viziv 2 may go down as the best-disguised five-door ever.
Subaru has been toughening conventional models for trail duty since the first Outback 20 years ago, but the Viziv 2 swaps the soft plastic body moldings for carbon fiber and it’s everywhere. The fender and wheel inserts, rocker panels, front and rear valences, and three-bar grille all sport the trendy black stuff. The Gatling-gun-style LED fog lamps - replicated at the rear, as if they were exhaust pipes spitting out electrons - add a cool glow to a car that, from the side, reminds us of the departed Volvo C30. Like many modern concepts, the Viziv 2 looks nearly ready for production.
That’s the case inside, too, where the dashboard’s hard points and basic structure allude to a sleeker version of, say, the XV Crosstek. If you discount the yellow glowsticks wedged in the air vents, the CIA-spec navigation display, and what look to be gorgeous cast-aluminum pedals, the Viziv 2 has real potential to reach dealer lots. A thin display popping out above the main screen, like that on the Mazda 3, previews navigation turns and the battery’s charge. We also appreciate the traction-control kill switch near the funky, Captain Hook shifter, a feature many other automakers leave out on their hybrids and eletric vehicles.
Inside the box
Like the Viziv Evolution, the Viziv 2 connects the front and rear axles with software instead of a driveshaft. Under the hood is Subaru’s JDM-spec 1.6-liter turbocharged flat-four with direct injection, estimated at 168 horsepower and 184 lb-ft of torque, paired with an electric motor and a Lineartronic CVT. Out back are two additional electric motors that can independently vector torque to each wheel and are powered by a centrally mounted lithium-ion battery pack. Subaru was mum on further powertrain specs.
We’ll have to wait and see what Subaru plucks from the Viziv 2 for production. But with plugs or without, we could imagine hightailing such a Subie through New England’s backcountry. You know, because the BRZ got stuck.The Viziv 2 also previews two additional safety features for Subaru's camera-based EyeSight system, recently updated for 2015, with an “autopilot” that includes lane-keeping assist and obstacle avoidance. While we’re unsure how these features would work, today’s lane-keeping functions only move the steering wheel a limited degree before alerting the driver to take the helm - the fact that a non-luxury brand is promoting them shows how close they are to reality.