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Subaru new-model log jam skittles WRX hatch

You can't have everything: The WRX sedan got a full makeover, but there just wasn't room in the engineering queue for a traditional WRX hatch this time around.

WRX hatch falls victim to lack of resources as Subaru pours out all-new models

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Subaru logo20 Nov 2013

By RON HAMMERTON in LOS ANGELES

SUBARU has revealed that its engineers were so stretched meeting the company's new model ambitions that it did not have the resources to develop a direct replacement for the WRX hatch as well as the all-new WRX sedan that broke cover at the Los Angeles motor show today.

Mind you, one of the new models that has been soaking up resources at Subaru's Japanese technical centre is the Levorg – a small but hot sports 'tourer' that is likely to partly fill the void left by the WRX hatch, at least in Japan where it will go on sale early next year and possibly Australia, which has put up its hand for the pioneering model.

The Levorg wagon – armed with all-wheel-drive and a choice of either a 1.6-litre or 2.0-litre direct-injection turbocharged four-cylinder boxer engines – was shown at the Tokyo motor this week (see separate story), just as the WRX sedan was appearing in Los Angeles.

Apart from the new WRX, Subaru has had its hands full with development of the new-generation Legacy (Liberty in Australia) that is appearing in concept form alongside the WRX at the LA car expo ahead of its expected production start in the US by mid 2014.

As well, the team has worked on the successful BRZ rear-drive sports coupe developed with Toyota, the upcoming STI version of the WRX that is expected to break cover at the Detroit motor show in January, a replacement for the Tribeca full-sized SUV and the XV Crosstrek Hybrid compact SUV.

Speaking at the formal unveiling of the new WRX in Los Angeles, Subaru of America communications director Michael McHale said Subaru was faced with a choice of giving the current WRX sedan and hatch twins a makeover or concentrating on developing a totally new generation of just one of those cars.

In the end, Subaru decided it was better to have one all-new WRX sedan with all the latest technologies and advances than a half-hearted sedan-and-hatch combo.

“We just did not have the bandwidth (engineering capacity) to do both cars,” he said.

Mr McHale said the current sedan and hatch shared a 50-50 split of sales in the United States – the biggest WRX market in the world – making it a tough choice.

However, in Australia – the second biggest WRX market – the hatch makes up only about 18 per cent of sales.

The decider might have been China, which is not only a big sedan market but also under consideration for a WRX launch for the first time.

Subaru Australia does not believe the absence of the hatch will affect sales of the new-generation WRX that debuts in showrooms in late March, especially as the new model is expected to attract incremental buyers attracted by the option of the first continuously variable transmission (CVT) available alongside the manual gearbox.

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