Subaru Australia warming to BRZ

Subaru Australia continues to grapple with the philosophical dilemma of adding the rear-wheel drive Subaru BRZ sports car to its line-up, but may be warming to the idea.
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Subaru Australia managing director Nick Senior insists the local arm of the Japanese brand will make its decision public in December on whether or not we will get the BRZ.

The crux of the matter is the car’s rear-wheel drive layout, which has been co-developed to underpin both the Subaru BRZ and the upcoming Toyota FT-86. Every new Subaru sold in Australia over the past 15 years has been all-wheel drive. The performance and driving enjoyment benefits of the symmetrical system are at the heart of the brand’s ethos, and are used across its branding and marketing material.

Mr Senior admitted taking on BRZ would be a significant deviation from this philosophy, and would require substantial rebranding for Subaru in Australia.

“It’s something we’ve got to really consider,” he said. “[All-wheel drive] has been a 15-year strategy, so it’s not a decision we are taking lightly.”

Mr Senior said the decision to bring BRZ to Australia would have been a “no-brainer” if it were to be produced in all-wheel drive.

Despite this, there is an underlying feeling that Subaru Australia is warming to the idea of making BRZ the exception to the rule. The local division has recently stepped up its emphasis on Subaru vehicles being ‘fun to drive’, downplaying the importance of drivetrains to potentially ease the transition to the rear-wheel drive sports car.

Mr Senior says the BRZ stays true to the fun-to-drive philosophy and consequently would not be out of place in the local range.

Asked whether he believed the BRZ could open the floodgates for other non-AWD Subarus to come to Australia, Mr Senior said, “I wouldn’t think so”.

Much more emphatic was his reaction to front-wheel drive, to which he asserted Subaru Australia had no intention of importing front-wheel drive vehicles.

The Subaru BRZ will be unveiled at the 2011 Tokyo Motor Show on November 30 before production starts in Japan in the second quarter of 2012.