You don’t have to search long to find fans of the long-retired Subaru Brumby, and the Japanese brand is well aware of the little ute’s loyal following… but it likely won’t surprise you to read that a comeback is not on the cards.
Only recently, a slightly battered Brumby was auctioned for charity after a tour of duty on foodie TV show River Cottage Australia, and if you listen to our own Matt Campbell, the mini-ute was ahead of its time.
Still, its time has nonetheless come and gone, even if Subaru Australia managing director Colin Christie reckons he could find more than a few buyers.
“Look, there’s certainly a lot of people that would be asking for it, but unfortunately it’s just not something that’s even close to being in the product pipeline at any stage, anywhere,” Christie tells CarAdvice.
“There’d be a huge number of people lining up, I think, desperate to get a new Brumby. Every time we go, especially in the rural areas, every time I visit a dealer they always seem to have a list of people ready to buy.”
What keeps Subaru from delivering a new Brumby today? Mostly the brand’s evolving direction, Christie believes, but also the packaging that modern standards demand.
“I wasn’t directly involved with the Subaru brand at the time, but I think the reality is that some of the technologies… it was a very simply built car, and a fantastic car too – you still see some running around with 6- or 700,000 kilometres on them – but I think the way we were progressing as a brand, in terms of technologies, it was probably a product we would’ve struggled to fit all that technology,” he says.
“It’s not even an investment issue; just probably the physical size. With the technologies needed today, you start to change the inherent nature of the car. Sometimes, with the way brands are going, some product platforms just won’t fit into that environment.”
In today’s market, it’s likely the closest Subaru could come to reviving the Brumby would be a markedly larger car – as has been the case with just about every reborn retro design of the past couple of decades.
Still, if Hyundai can do it with the Santa Cruz (or so it has promised, but sadly not for Australia), it seems a shame Subaru isn’t inclined to bring back its own little champion.