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WRX reaches sales milestone

Imprezive: Subaru's WRX has carved a solid niche after 15 years in Australia.

Subaru has found 30,000 homes for its iconic performance small-car brand

23 Nov 2009

SUBARU has sold the 30,000th Impreza WRX model in Australia.

The milestone, which Subaru announced last Friday morning, comes 15 and a half years after the launch of the original turbocharged all-wheel drive version of the first-generation Impreza small-car in March 1994.

At the time the WRX replaced the critically acclaimed but prohibitively expensive Liberty RS Turbo sedan and wagon in the Subaru line-up, and sales bumped along at about 200 units annually.

However, a specification upgrade in 1997 – combined with Subaru’s highly publicised world rally motorsport success in the latter part of the 1990s and into the early 2000s – gave the WRX the impetus it needed to establish a stronghold in the Australian performance car scene.

Variations of the WRX won 10 consecutive Australian rally drivers’ championships for a decade from 1996 and eight manufacturers’ titles, including six consecutive ones from 2000.

The ‘Rex’ (as it has come to be known) also rode the growing tide of electronic games as typified by the Sony Playstation, essentially exposing the brand to a completely new generation of buyers and admirers. Subaru says that it still regularly sells 150 WRXs per month despite two generational changes that have seen a dramatic and controversial alteration of the model’s appearance, as well as the company’s move away from motorsport.

It points out that the WRX of 2009 is faster, stronger, safer, more spacious and better equipped than the original, yet still comes with the same $39,990 pricetag (before the on-road costs).

Referring to it as “a game changer” for both the company and the Australian automotive market, Subaru Australia managing director Nick Senior admitted that initial take-up was very slow indeed.

“Those early days of the WRX were only a couple of hundred units per year,” he said.

“When we changed the WRX in 1998 with a more sporty interior, that was the time when sales really took off, and to be able to say 15 years later that we have sold 30,000 WRXs is something that the entire family is extremely proud of.”

Mr Senior added that the WRX has successfully staved off many competitors in its lifetime.

“I have lost count of the number of supposed competitors built up as Rex challengers, but they couldn’t cut the mustard, particularly the front-wheel drive and rear-wheel drive pretenders who soon got lost in the dust,” he quipped.

The 1994 WRX featured a 2.0-litre turbo boxer engine producing 155kW of power and 270Nm of torque, compared to the 2.5-litre unit that delivers 195kW and 343Nm today.

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