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Subaru coupe not yet 86’d for Oz

'Subarota': New Subaru Boxer rear-drive sports car to commence production in second quarter of 2012.

The answer to if/when Subaru’s rear-drive coupe arrives in Oz is three months away

5 Jul 2011

YEARS of speculation about whether or not Subaru’s new rear-wheel drive sports coupe will be available in Australia should be over within three months.

Subaru Australia managing director Nick Senior said at Friday’s Australian International Motor Show opening that Australian marketing and pricing hurdles for the Subaru sportscar co-developed with Toyota will be finalised with parent company Fuji Heavy Industries by September.

The Toyota version, dubbed Toyobaru and now expected to be badged simply as the ‘86’, is a definite starter for Australia, with sales due to begin in the middle of 2012.

However, whether Subaru has the resources to take on the might of Toyota’s marketing machine in Australia, where sportscar sales are relatively miniscule, is thought to be one of the biggest stumbling blocks for the release of its so-called ‘Subarota’ here.

“We will probably have to make (a call on the sportscar) by the end of quarter three,” Mr Senior admitted in Melbourne last week.

“We will have discussions with Fuji over the next couple of months and obviously the sportscar is on the agenda. We haven’t even discussed pricing yet.”

2 center imageLeft: Toyota FT-86.

Mr Senior denied that the lack of all-wheel drive is central to the delay in an affirmative decision.

“Subaru is synonymous with all-wheel drive. This is a rear-wheel drive car and it is obviously different to our philosophy,” he said.

“Having said that, if it was a front-wheel drive car it would be easier to say no, but if it were a rear-drive car… it is a performance car, it is a driver’s car and that is very much what Subaru is all about… (so) it is one that we are having an earnest look at… but I cannot confirm that it is coming.

“There are also other issues besides rear-wheel drive… in terms we have to be aware that there are two cars, two companies (selling similar models) and we have to justify whether there is enough volume to justify (the expense of) launching it and to keep up the nourishment required to keep it in the marketplace. We are up against a very big player in Toyota.

“Toyota is a big company with lots of money and I am sure they would want their car to be a big success.

“We will have to go through all the detail, have a clear indication of the specifications and pricing, before we sit down and make a business case.” Asked if a green light means a launch during 2012, Mr Senior said: “Potentially”.

Though both companies have worked hard to create the vehicle, some of the model’s defining characteristics – such as a four-cylinder boxer engine – are clearly Subaru trademarks, although Toyota’s latest direct-injection technology features on the 2.0-litre unit.

“It’s got Subaru DNA, it’s got the boxer engine… (but) it doesn’t have the complete DNA in terms that it hasn’t got the AWD system,” Mr Senior said.

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