We've covered Subaru's hybrid plans for well over a year now, and this week's details dropped at the Tokyo Motor Show confirm what we've heard before: Subaru has plans for a hybrid car, to be built with aid from corporate partner Toyota. Leveraging Toyota's already excellent hybrid platform is a no-brainer, but Subaru will have to do a lot of engineering work to develop a system suitable to its own cars.

Speaking from the show floor, Fuji Heavy Industies president Ikuo Mori told Automotive News that Subaru won't be able to just lift Toyota hybrid systems directly--a simple transplant won't work. But that's nothing new from Subaru, with the strong design and engineering background that's driven all of the company's automotive products.

The impetus for the latest flash of discussion on the subject is Subaru's Hybrid Tourer concept, which demonstrates in a much more realistic fashion Subaru's design and platform directions for its hybrid passenger cars. Previous proof-of-concept designs like all-electric and plug-in hybrid R1 and Stella have shown off technology and future city car themes, but the Hybrid Tourer concept features a layout that's more likely to be seen here in the U.S., and in the near future.

Powered by a direct-injected turbocharged 2.0-liter mill and twin electric motors, the all-wheel-drive hybrid combines the best of the fuel-saving technology with the best of Subaru's go-anywhere attitude in an attractive and spacious package.

The modality of the hybrid's function is somewhat unique as well, with factors like hill ascent or descent determining the role of the gasoline and electric powerplants. Like almost all modern hybrids, the Tourer concept features stop-start technology and brake energy regeneration.

Key elements of any production Subaru hybrid will be retaining the performance and utility associated with the Subaru nameplate as well as maximizing fuel efficiency and minimizing emissions. There will, of course, be compromises in the name of practicality, but we're keen to see what Subaru has in store for a final production vehicle. We don't expect to see a Subaru hybrid on the road before 2012, however, so we'll have to be patient.

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