Subaru claims that improving the handling on its all-new WRX sedan took priority over styling, with the new model's watered-down design a clear deviation on the sleek concept version glimpsed earlier this year.
Subaru’s Director of Communications, Michael McHale, told CarAdvice the concept version first revealed earlier this year at the New York auto show was visually stunning, but was never intended for production.
“The concept was beautiful. In fact, I didn’t think we could design a car as beautiful as that vehicle … but it was designed to get attention for the WRX coming up, and it did that very successfully,” McHale said yesterday at a closed-shop briefing on the eve of car’s global debut at the Los Angeles motor show.
“The looks were a way for us to get to talk about handling – that was the focus from day one with the new-generation WRX.
“We had just launched the Subaru BRZ and we thought we’d ride those coat tails,” he added.
Subaru will also continue with a sedan-only body for the new-generation car, citing a limited budget as the prime reason behind the single body strategy.
That’s despite the fact that in the US, (the world’s largest WRX market) sales of the model are split almost 50/50 between sedan and hatch versions.
In Australia (the third largest market), the demand for the hatch is significantly lower at 18 per cent.
According to McHale, Subaru’s parent company, Fuji Heavy Industries Ltd, said the WRX didn’t have the “bandwidth” to make a fully differentiated sedan and a fully differentiated hatch.
“[They said] you can have the current car in sedan and hatch body styles, and we’ll make some improvements, or we can work towards an all-new WRX model – so we chose the later,” said McHale.