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Subaru Legacy concept teases the next generation — and some competition

Today, Subaru revealed a few preview shots of what it calls the Subaru Legacy Concept, a car it will roll through the smoke machines at the Los Angeles Auto Show next week. Meant to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Legacy sedan, Subaru says it hints at future updates to the Legacy, although taking the current upright, almost chunky Legacy toward a sleek, near-coupe shape with 21-inch wheels would count as far more than an update.

Yet this image gave me a strong sense of deja vu.There are only so many ways to bend metal and mold plastic in line with what can be made by machines at high speeds, all while meeting various government regulations around the world. As a result, it's common for designers from different companies to bump up against each others' efforts; does the Legacy Concept's Superman shield-like grille draw from the Ford Fusion which drew from Aston Martin, or from the Mazda/Acura line of trapezoidal openings? Vertical bumper vents were a Bentley touch before Buick started using them similar to what Subaru does here. And no automaker has yet managed to claim a sloping roofline for a four-door sedan as a trademark, despite efforts from Audi, Mercedes, BMW and others.

But the Legacy Concept also reminded me of another recent concept: the Hyundai HCD-14 and the upcoming makeover of the Genesis sedan, which is also expected to take the stage in Los Angeles

The Hyundai differs in a few key details — the longer hood for a rear-wheel-drive chassis, a slightly higher character line along the side — but in many respects, these two look like cars from the same family. Subaru has struggled for distinctive styling in the past, but given that it sells every car it can build or ship to the United States, such issues haven't slowed it down. But if it wants to stand out on the streets, Subaru may need to keep drawing.

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