New Subaru WRX performance saloon is unlikely to make the UK line-up of what is now “primarily an SUV brand”

The next Subaru WRX is undergoing testing at the Nürburgring following last month’s New York motor show concept appearance, but indications are that the model is unlikely to make it to the UK. 

Contrasting with its rich rally heritage, Subaru is now “primarily an SUV brand”, according to UK boss Paul Tunnicliffe. Speaking at the launch of the new Forester, Tunnicliffe acknowledged the huge contribution that the WRX sub-brand has made to Subaru sales. But he said there was “an inevitable end of product life cycle happening with it”.

He added: “Things are now in a different place. That market is not as big as it used to be. The EC has strict CO2 targets, and unless you’re selling lots of hybrids or electric cars, a product like WRX STI is hard to justify.” 

Tunnicliffe also cited the increased cost of ownership and insurance as problematic, plus the unfavourable yen rate. The last batch of current-model WRX STIs was eventually discounted by £5000 before recently selling out, and there are no plans to import more.

Subaru’s ‘niche derogation’ means that its EC CO2 target is less aggressive than most. This year its cleanest 75 per cent of cars sold will need to average less than 164.6g/km, but that average will incorporate all sales by 2015 and could be seriously skewed by another high-performance model. The last WRX STI produced 243g/km of CO2.

A new 237bhp, direct-injection 2.0-litre turbo petrol engine features in the Forester but is paired with a CVT to moderate CO2 emissions to 197g/km — a compromise unlikely to satisfy WRX fans. Its turbo sits underneath the engine, too, so the test mule’s bonnet scoop indicates a different choice of powerplant.

Our Verdict

Subaru Impreza WRX STI

The STi is fast, grippy and offers immense value, maintaining an image Subaru has cultivated through years of rally pedigree

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29 April 2013

I've got to laugh when he talks of a £ 5k discount.   For absolutely no justifiable reason he increased the price from £ 27k to £ 34k!

But my sides were already nearly splitting when I read that Subaru was an SUV brand.

However, the blame for the demise of the WRX lies solely with Subaru UK.   The model that sold was the WRX or the STi, with the World Rally Blue and for the STi that big wing.   Plus not forgetting that in every other region of the world you could by the saloon version, but only hatchback in the UK.

What Subaru UK did was to stop selling the most popular combination; stopped selling the model that sold!   Then stuck the price up for no apparent reason, blaming currency conversions while at the same time reducing the price of the entry level model. Makes wonder how that was possible?

Subaru UK are the Gerald Ratner of the automotive world.

P.S. - I'm an Ex-Subaru 03 WRX PP owner who tried the hatchback STi and found it lacking by comparision.

29 April 2013

Why?, why shouldn't hardened Subaru owners get a chance at a new WRX?,whart are Subaru afraid of?

Peter Cavellini.

29 April 2013

Peter Cavellini wrote:

Why?, why shouldn't hardened Subaru owners get a chance at a new WRX?,whart are Subaru afraid of?

Subaru need to sack Subaru UK (IM Group - and get someone else in to run the UK operation for them.

Perhaps then they'd be a chance, if they haven't already damaged the UK image of Subaru beyond repair.

One aspect that really does frustrate me is that the dealer I went to for mine (S&S Services, Ayr) were one of the most friendly and genuine dealers I've ever had dealt with, and yet with Subaru UK absolutely dropping the ball I'm sure they're not selling as many as they used to.   They'll be losing customers because of someone else's incompetence.   Not just the car sales, but the servicing and all the after sales support which they were absolutely fantastic for.   If they weren't as decent I wouldn't have got my WRX upgraded as I did with the PP, suspension and wheels.   That's all business that Subaru UK / IM Group is costing them.

By comparison, my brother bought an 08 Focus ST new from Arnold Clark.   He actually visited several Arnold Clark dealers to find one who could add up, and discovered that Arnold Clark also operates as MacHargs too.   In fact, in MacHargs before he could get a test drive he had to make a commitment to the sales woman!   Marriage?   He'd just met her!

It was one of the most unbelievably bad experiences you could imagine, and when he did find an Arnold Clark garage where the sales people could add up, and ordered the car which he'd have to wait for because he'd opted for the Bluetooth upgrade, they even screwed that up.   Someone changed the order deliberately removing the Bluetooth that he'd paid for.   It took another six month of arguing with Arnold Clark to get it fitted, and even then it doesn't work right.   Lesson learned; don't buy from Arnold Clark.


29 April 2013

I expect a decent amount of the new gen Subaru WRX will be imported in from Japan considering the Nissan GTR was being imported when the GTR was not yet on sale in the UK.

I think its a big mistake for Subaru not offering their halo car in such a market and Mitsubshi would have to be stupid to do the same as Subaru.

29 April 2013

The WRX and STi are halo models basking in the long-gone glory days of Subaru rally successes - the tightening of grey import regulations ended the days when the enthusiasts would have grey-imported the real Japanese version directly.

SUV brand ? Despite having invented the crossover, the original Outback, from the Legacy estate, Subaru are resigned to following everyone else BUT they simply don't have the volume to do it in a timely manner. The diesel was a decade after the competition and the UK still doesn't get a diesel automatic powertrain option, not that it'll be a proper automatic when it comes.

Subaru UK sold 2,023 cars in 2012, just 0.1% market share and  a contraction of 23% from 2011 - hardly worth bothering with !

29 April 2013

The article suggests the new car either wouldnt be worth importing as  it just isnt that popular any more (in which case the CO2 average will hardly be effected) or that the CO2 of the new car will be too high (in which case some of their other cars would be hard to justify too). What ever the reason Subaru UK dont want to import it, i dont think we have seen it in this article.

And if they are an SUV brand only why do we have the BR-Z and Legacy?  

29 April 2013

"Subaru is now “primarily an SUV brand”, according to UK boss Paul Tunnicliffe."

Subaru's fast becoming a dead brand with idiots like this in charge.


29 April 2013

As much as I dislike SUVs, I do see their point:

  • SUVs sell like hotcakes in the UK, every private buyer wants an SUV. Nissan became an SUV company, and every car park is littered by badly parked Qashcows and inverse-tardis Jokes.
  • They didn't bother with a previous generation saloon (other than the WRX STI) as small saloons do not sell in the UK.
  • They are known for their 4x4 ability, makes sense to ride on this and sell profitable SUVs.
  • WRC is dying off, it is now a championship for superminis like Fiestas and DS3s. TV coverage isn't what it was (I couldn't even think of where to watch it - their website says ITV4, doesn't seem well advertised) and they are seeking a move away from the 'boy racer' image of their blue saloons racing through town centres.

The Impreza was replaced in the UK by the XV - a raised version of the new hatchback.

You can, however, still import Legacy saloons from Ireland.

29 April 2013

Small saloons are on their way from Merc and Audi, 4 door coupes with frameless dors are very on trend, 4x4 gets more and more popular, and 4 cylinder turbos are all the rage. It saddens me to think that Subaru seems incapable of building on its legacy in all these areas.

The recent 4 door concept showed promise but they need to follow it through.

29 April 2013

Subaru 'is primarily an SUV company' then you know three things: Firstly, what little concern they now have for the WRX. Second, what apparent lack of enthusiasm they seem to have for the BRZ. I bet if they were given a choice then they wouldn't have imported it at all. And finally, that ultimately the writing's on the wall for Subaru in the UK. Competing against established SUV brands with an SUV-only strategy is bound to end in disaster.

Speaking of dealer service, a member of my family owns a three-year-old Legacy Outback diesel. While it was in the dealers for its recent 'big' service they lent him a tired old 2005 Legacy saloon. Sure it's not a big deal but after a number of other issues with the dealer he's now decided to sell the car (his third Subaru) and buy something else instead. Symanski isn't alone in being disappointed with Subaru UK.


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