DALE JEWETT

Subaru BRZ coupe set for L.A. auto show debut

The Subaru concept car measures 166.7 inches long, with a wheelbase of 101.2 inches.
Dale Jewett is interactive editor for AutoWeek, an affiliate of Automotive News.
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Is the public ready for a sporty coupe from Subaru? Do they remember the Giugiaro-designed SVX from the early 1990s?

Subaru will use the Los Angeles auto show to give the world its first good look at the BRZ coupe -- it's version of the rear-drive 2+2 that shares a platform with the upcoming Scion FR-S.

In Los Angeles, it will be shown as the BRZ Concept STI. Under the hood is Subaru's naturally aspirated 2.0-liter FA flat-four engine, mounted low and moved back toward the center to give the car better handling characteristics.

The concept car measures 166.7 inches long, with a wheelbase of 101.2 inches. Width comes in at 70.9 inches and height at 50.4 inches. Subaru says the concept rolls with an STI-tuned suspension, Brembo brakes and 18-inch wheels.

The Subaru BRZ goes on sale in spring 2012.

The BRZ's sporty looks, rear-drive layout and promise of sharp handling push all the right buttons for car enthusiasts. The same can be said for the Scion FR-S, and the Toyota FT-86 version if it joins the lineup. The icing on the cake would be a sticker price doesn't force the young and young-at-heart to dump the BRZ on their winning-lottery-ticket wish list.

Subaru set out the crack the grand-touring luxury car market with the SVX. It certainly turned heads with its wide-look styling and inventive window-within-a-window design for the door glass. The all-wheel-drive layout made it a comfortable cruiser in any weather.

But a sticker price that was $8,000-$10,000 above anything else that Subaru was selling in the U.S. shocked potential buyers and the SVX remained a rarely spotted car on the road.

There is an enduring allure for sporty coupes, even though demand for the likes of the Toyota Celica, Nissan 240SX and Mitsubishi Eclipse rise and fall -- which leads to their demise.

Subaru, which has steadied itself and grown on the strength of its all-wheel-drive cars and crossovers, is ready to catch the next sporty coupe wave. Let's hope it's a good, long ride.

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