The boss of Subaru Australia says the BRZ sports car’s overarching impression as a “driver’s car” was strong enough to convince the company to divert from its 15-year exclusive all-wheel-drive strategy.
Subaru Australia managing director Nick Senior says despite the BRZ’s rear-wheel-drive underpinnings, the vehicle is in line with the company’s existing ‘All 4 The Driver’ philosophy, and would not force a rebranding or fresh marketing direction.
Senior said the deciding factor for bringing the BRZ to Australia was “the comfort that it was a Subaru and [embodies] a true spirit of a Subaru – that is a driver’s car and is fun to drive”.
He said the BRZ would not have been considered for our market if it was developed as a front-wheel-drive car rather than rear-wheel drive.
“I think if it was ever a front-wheel drive, then no, that’s an easy decision to make.”
The Subaru BRZ, which has been a joint project between Toyota and Subaru, has also resulted in the soon-to-be-released Toyota 86 and the Toyota-based Scion FRS for the US market. All three models share the majority of their underpinnings and are based on an Impreza platform using a Subaru boxer engine, albeit with Toyota’s direct-injection technology. As a result, many have questioned Toyota’s involvement and input into the 86.
Referring to the BRZ, Mr Senior said “fundamentally I think it has more of a Subaru heart to it than a Toyota”.
Pricing and specification levels are still undetermined but we believe the high-spec Subaru BRZ destined for Australia will cost more than both entry-level and top-spec Toyota 86 variants.
Meanwhile, the future of the Subaru WRX and STI remains unclear following the models’ earlier divorce from the Impreza family. The current WRX/STI vehicles (based on the old third-generation Impreza) are expected to remain on sale in a largely unchanged format until the next-generation sports cars are released.
“[We are] still in the process of looking at the next-generation and direction of WRX and STI. We’ve been looking and evaluating as to which direction it would go. Does it go more upmarket? Does it go more hard-core?”
It’s yet to be determined if the WRX and STI will share the platform of the upcoming fourth-generation Impreza small car or use a modified version.