Subaru Australia managing director Nick Senior confirmed the brand will have an answer for potential buyers of the Levorg – which can be specified as essentially a more practical five-door wagon version of the WRX – in the new year.
“That’s getting to a stage where a decision will be made in quarter one next year on whether Levorg is going to come here or not,” he said.
“It’s a business case to bring it here, and it’s the resource needed by FHI (Fuji Heavy Industries) to develop and homologate it for Australia,” Senior explained. “When you see a company that has grown from 500,000 to 900,000 units, is upgrading production plants, is launching quite an ambitious new model platform over the last couple of years and moving forward, that’s certainly a key component of them saying ‘yes, you can have it’ and us saying ‘yes, we want it’.
Senior clearly thinks there’s a market for the car in Australia.
“It’s been on the cards, we’re getting to the stage now where probably about February or March we’ll need to make a decision,” he said.
When it comes to how quickly the turnaround could be from the decision being made (if it’s a yes) and seeing the car in showrooms, it will come down to the way the car will be positioned and specified for the local market.
“It depends what needs to be done, and what specification we want or would like,” he said. “It’s a bit hard to put a time on that, as we don’t know all the specific details.”
Although there are two different engines available for the Levorg – the first being a 1.6-litre four-cylinder turbo ‘boxer’ with 125kW/250Nm and the second being the 2.0-litre turbo unit used in the WRX – it seems more likely the model would mirror the specification of the latter, though likely with a slightly higher price-tag – as is the case with its potential rival, the Skoda Octavia RS.
However, what’s clear – from Senior’s perspective – is that the Levorg will not be renamed to be called, say, a Subaru WRX Sportwagon.
“I just feel, nowadays, with the world being a global marketplace, why not capitalise on a name that’s been out there in Japan, it’s well known by Subaru-ists around the world,” he said.
Indeed, the Levorg is selling very well in its home market. Yoichi Hori, deputy general manager of Subaru’s engineering department, said the brand is selling more than double the amount of Levorg models than it is WRXs in its domestic market.
“In Japan, Levorg sales are really strong,” Hori said. “About 2000 per month. WRX is less than a thousand, I think.”
Hori couldn't give any more away about the Levorg for Australia, but he did suggest that buyers who wanted a WRX hatch are now looking more at the Levorg in the car’s home market as the five-door alternative.
“We’re still considering [Levorg for Australia], the sales department. It’s possible, because we already have that car,” Hori said.
“We received many of the customers requests that we still continue the five-door model, hatchback model. But unfortunately the volume, the four-door is more popular than the five-door, so that’s why we decided the four-door model,” he said.
However, there’s still a glimmer of hope for a WRX hatch.
“Not yet, we’re still discussing in the company,” Hori said of the potential to add a five-door hatchback model. “But it’s not decided yet.”
When asked what sort of timeframe – theoretically – there would be before the market saw a WRX hatch if it were to make production, Hori indicated it could be a way off.
“More than a year I think. If we make the hatch model with a turbocharger, we have a lot of development,” he said.