Clear look at Subaru fu­ture

Townsville Bulletin - - Cars Guide -

HIS­TORY is set to be shat­tered as Subaru con­sid­ers aban­don­ing its all-wheel drive phi­los­o­phy. Prompted by the im­pres­sive han­dling of its new Toy­otashared, rear-drive coupe, Subaru is pre­pared to con­sider the lay­out for other mod­els. It is a stark de­par­ture from a com­pany that, in Aus­tralia es­pe­cially, has built its mar­ket and loyal cus­tomer fol­low­ing on its “ ALL 4’’ brand­ing. That may come as a shock but there’s no sur­prise in moves within Subaru to make dras­tic changes to its styling direc­tion and, in other ar­eas, con­sider culling some mod­els and adding some ex­tras. In Geneva this week for one of Europe’s key mo­tor show event, Subaru’s global mar­ket­ing vice pres­i­dent Hidetoshi Kobayashi spoke can­didly about the car­maker’s fu­ture. He sees the link with Toy­ota to de­velop the coupe — called FT-86 by Toy­ota and as yet un-named by Subaru — as one pos­si­ble step to­wards us­ing the rear-drive de­sign in other Subaru prod­ucts. “ It has very good dy­nam­ics,’’ he says of the coupe. “ It’s much dif­fer­ent from driv­ing an all-wheel drive car - it’s much bet­ter.’’ Asked if he could see the rear-drive con­cept be­ing used in other Subaru mod­els, he says “ yes’’. The coupe will go into pro­duc­tion in Ja­pan by both com­pa­nies in March next year and is es­ti­mated to be priced around $ US24,000 - about the same as a Mazda MX-5 in Aus­tralia which sells for around $ 45,000. The coupes from Toy­ota and Subaru will be iden­ti­cal in driv­e­train specs — 2-litre boxer en­gine and six-speed man­ual trans­mis­sion from Subaru — and has no plans to be launched as a tur­bocharged car. Toy­ota, which owns about 16 per cent of Subaru, has do­nated a hatch­back to Subaru which has re­branded it as a Subaru Tre­via. The small car, with a front-wheel drive lay­out and 1.3-litre en­gine, gives Subaru a new en­try in Ja­pan’s pop­u­lar city-car sec­tor since the demise of its R1 and R2 city cars. small B-seg­ment car by our­selves,’’ he says. “ The en­gines are from Dai­hatsu, which is part of the ( Toy­ota) al­liance.’’

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