Subaru is to be relaunched in the UK after a number of lean years for the Japanese brand, according to Paul Tunnicliffe, managing director of IM Group, the UK importer of Subaru models.
Two all-new models based on the company’s new Global Platform – the Subaru XV crossover and the Subaru Impreza hatchback – are due in showrooms by the beginning of 2018 and an all-new Subaru Forester is expected to arrive in 2019.
Tunnicliffe told Autocar that Subaru’s UK annual sales had slipped to “around 3500 units” in recent years, dropping from a peak of about 12,500 in 1999 – “although, admittedly, 6000 of that total was WRX Impreza models”, he said. Last year, Subaru sold 1.1 million vehicles globally.
Marketing director Chris Hawken has just appointed a new, London-based advertising agency and said the company has been conducting customer clinics.
He told Autocar existing Subaru customers were usually based in rural areas and praised Subaru’s permanent all-wheel drive for “providing absolute security in all weathers”.
Hawken added: “There are crossover owners who assume their car is a 4x4, when many are front drive.”
Tunnicliffe said Subaru’s heavy engineering bias means it is “more likely to spend money under the skin than on soft-touch plastics for the interior”. One of Subaru’s strongest suits will be ‘real-world’ safety. Its new platform has already been proven to be capable of taking a high-speed frontal impact from a 2.5-tonne vehicle and containing the damage ahead of the windscreen and front doors.
Subaru’s failure to prosper during a period of huge growth in the UK crossover market has puzzled many in the UK industry, particularly as the brand was one of the originators of the genre, launching the Forester and Legacy Subaru Outback more than 20 years ago.