Notwithistanding Subaru's offical unveiling of its US-spec 2006 Impreza yesterday, pictures of the Prez's divisive mug have been floating around the net for months, long enough for enthusiasts to render a decision per the car's facial redesign. But instead of a unanimous decision, a fissure grew between the "pignose" crowd, which sees the Sub's facelift as an affront to all that is holy (as if the last model's face was befitting a Vogue cover) and the "Alfa" group, who see the new grillwork (see also the B9 Tribeca) as a subtle homage to the iconic Alfa Romeo noses of the past and present. (The sub's schnoz was penned by former Alfa designer, Andreas Zapatinas.) The disagreements have been contentious. Let's just say, we'd hate to see these groups try to agree on a lunch order.
But despite the disagreements, what's done is done, at least as Subaru sees it. Some notable underskin changes for 2006 include:
· While not technically "underskin," an aluminum hood goes on the Impreza 2.5i (formerly RS) and Outback Sport (WRX models already had an aluminum hood).
· Updates to electronics controlling the optional four-speed autobox and Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive, which the company says will improve interactions between the two, enhancing handling and traction performance.
· The normally aspirated 2.5-liter boxer engine in the Impreza 2.5i and Outback Sport gets an eight-horsepower boost (to 173) from Subaru's new i-Active Valve Lift system. Torque remains the same, at 166ft/lbs at 4,400rpm.
· New, standard front seat head/chest side impact air bags (SRS).
· The WRX STi model gets some performance enhancements, including wider wheels, a steering sensor input to the DCCD All-Wheel Drive system, which the company says will improve power distribution response by supplying more accurate cornering information.