Optimists might well reckon the Toyota connection will do something about Subaru’s generally woeful design and fuel economy – long since the two major weaknesses for car’s wearing the Subaru badge. Which would be a good thing, surely?
On the other hand, Subaru seems to be becoming slowly but surely entwined within the empire of Toyota, a far larger company. For a firm that has based so much of its appeal on individuality and going its own way, that’s a considerable risk.
There’s particular interest in Japan at the news that Subaru will be sharing its prized boxer engine with Toyota for the new rear-drive “Toyobaru” sports coupe that the two companies are jointly developing – something that has really raised eyebrows.
A year ago the very idea of a Toyota using Subaru’s unique flat-four engine would have been inconceivable. And to many Subaru fans, it’s a decision tantamount to selling off the family silver.
Of course, those with less emotional attachment might shrug and say a new kind of Celica with a Subaru flat-four engine on board might be kind of cool, and so wonder what all the fuss is about.
The truth is that small, quirky Subaru now needs its tie-in with big, rich Toyota to prosper – maybe even to survive. If sharing the boxer engine is part of the deal that makes that happen it’s a case of shoganai as they say here in Japan: “can’t be helped.”