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by Jez Spinks

 

Subaru Australia will abandon its long-standing all-wheel-drive-only brand strategy and import the new rear-wheel-drive BRZ sports car in 2012.

One of Subaru’s biggest dealerships has told CarAdvice the BRZ will arrive in May in limited numbers – potentially pipping its well-publicised twin, the Toyota 86, to the local market.

Subaru Australia wouldn’t comment on the latest twist to the on-going will-it-won’t-it saga, which follows Monday’s report by CarAdvice that the BRZ was being imported to New Zealand.

The company, which was due to make its official announcement on the BRZ next week, has been torn between introducing a car that would excite enthusiasts but would also contradict a marketing strategy that has been built around all-wheel drive since 1997.

Nick Senior, Subaru Australia’s managing director, hinted strongly to CarAdvice at last month’s Tokyo motor show that he was contemplating the BRZ as an exception.

“Rear-wheel drive is in keeping with our brand; it delivers driver confidence,” said Senior. “It’s a driver’s car – and Subarus have always been a driver’s car.”

CarAdvice believes Subaru Australia may retain its localised “All 4 the driver” slogan despite the introduction of the rear-drive BRZ.

The Subaru BRZ is one half of a compact sports car joint project shared with Toyota – and since dubbed the “Toyobaru” by the industry. It was revealed in production guise for the first time at the 2011 Tokyo motor show last month, along with the Toyota 86.

Both cars will be built by Subaru in Japan. The Toyota 86 and Subaru BRZ are virtually identical, including copycat exterior styling bar the odd detail.

The platform is derived from the Impreza small car’s underpinnings and is powered by a Subaru 2.0-litre horizontally opposed “boxer” four-cylinder engine but featuring Toyota direct fuel injection technology.

Toyota Australia is expected to price the 86 from between $35,000 and $40,000 when it lands in mid 2012.




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