Subaru is planning a blitz of new models for 2007, incorporating the new family face (as seen on the B9 Tribeca), and a hatchback version of the inimitable Impreza!

Subaru is planning a blitz of new models for 2007, incorporating the new family face (as seen on the B9 Tribeca), and a hatchback version of the inimitable Impreza!

The new styling direction, led by former Alfa Romeo designer Andreas Zapatinas, has not been favourably received, gauging by responses to the B9 Tribeca MPV unveiled at the Detroit Motor Show in the US and R2 city car in Japan.

While the Impreza remains the most recognised model in the Subaru line-up, the car's chief designer has cautioned that the current car's successor will be remarkably different. Hiroshi Mori, told that the next-generation car could be smaller and would take a new design direction when it is launched in 2007.

The new car should be lighter and cheaper to produce than the four-door saloon, and should handle even better thanks to its stiffer body and shorter wheelbase. The car will also look more conventional - its longer front overhang will accommodate the intercooler, which is currently housed at the top of the engine bay.

Equipped with the Japanese company's legendary four-wheel drive system, the smaller Impreza will possibly be powered by a basic 1,5-litre, and a more racy 2,0-litre powerplant. Five- and six-speed manual gearboxes will be available, with the option of a five-speed auto transmission.

The British publication reports that the hatchback will use a shortened Legacy wheelbase, though the Impreza engineers will use the Legacy's compact rear suspension to optimise driving dynamics, rather than maximise the luggage area.

The new car is due in 2007 along with a smaller MPV, roadster and saloon, but whether the legions of Subaru fans will be convinced by the new models remains to be seen.