Let's hope Subaru coupe is a design coup

We've called Subaru quirky because of its past designs, and rightfully so. The Outback had a funky design. The Forester had a cult-like following. The Legacy was a bit strange. And the first Tribeca SUV was downright ugly.

Subaru redesigned its cars making them more mainstream and giving them added room. That's helped vehicle sales so much that Subaru has beaten the odds and out-paced the industry since 2008.

Subaru of America CEO Yoshio Hasanuma thinks Subaru can keep up the pace and sell 240,000 cars in the United States this year. That's up from 216,652 last year.

Can Subaru keep the momentum going? That's the big question.

Subaru has positioned itself as a niche player, relying on its crossovers, but luring younger buyers in with the boy-racer Impreza WRX and STI models. The Impreza models have limited appeal. There's some talk that there won't be a second-generation Tribeca.

As for the future, Subaru hasn't committed to a smaller car. Years ago it abandoned work on a luxury model.

Subaru's most radical new car is a rear-drive sports coupe designed jointly with partner Toyota, scheduled for 2012. Both companies are mum on the subject. There was some talk in late 2009 that the Toyota FT-86 concept that debuted at the Tokyo show was the Toyota/Subaru coupe. If so, that's a radically different car -- and the kind of excitement that Subaru needs to cultivate.

Let's hope the coupe is as cool as the Tokyo show car and not another of the bland and safe designs Toyota has been sending to the United States. Subaru doesn't need another Tribeca to shove it off course.

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