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Subaru WRX set for Oz by March 2014

Rex appeal: The road-going WRX will appear for the first time globally in November. Expect it to be a toned-down version of this concept car.

New Subaru WRX just six months from showrooms, with STi version due about July

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Subaru logo3 Oct 2013

SUBARU Australia is set to fast-track the eagerly-awaited new WRX Down Under by March 2014, only four months after the car’s global debut in Los Angeles next month.

Furthermore, a hardcore new STi derivative will arrive in showrooms hot on its heels around three months later, which will be music to the ears of Rex fans everywhere.

This means Subaru Australia appears set to have the full complement of hot Impreza-based spin-offs by mid-2014.

The road car is expected to be a toned-down form of the WRX concept car that premiered in New York last April and travelled around Australia in May as part of a novel Subaru travelling road show.

Mechanical details remain somewhat under wraps, although as we reported from the Big Apple this year, the car is a lock to retain the signature all-wheel drive, turbocharged layout of its famous predecessors.

The likely engine is a pumped version of the Forester’s 2.0-litre direct-injected unit. As previously confirmed to us by Subaru America president and COO Tom Doll, a traditional manual gearbox will be offered, alongside a CVT with paddle-shifters.

Speaking with GoAuto this week, Subaru Australia managing director Nick Senior said the new model would stay true to its enthusiast fan base, but at the same time was designed with a wider audience in mind and benchmarked against high-end performance rivals.

Mr Senior also hinted that the new model might cost more than the outgoing, $39,990 version, saying that while the new one would be price competitive, there will also be “a fair amount of extra kit” offered.

“I think the challenge for WRX is not to alienate our existing customers because they are extremely passionate, and are great at giving us feedback,” he said.

“But then we need to grow the WRX base for those who may not have considered a WRX previously, along with the loyal customers we’ve had.” Mr Senior said growth in the performance market, and the emergence of rivals both at the lower end – such as the Hyundai Veloster SR – and further up – perhaps in reference to European entries beyond the Golf GTI – had added vitality to the market.

The success of the BRZ rear-drive coupe in attracting a new kind of buyer to the Subaru brand could also drive new buyers into the WRX, said Mr Senior, since they might seek something with more space and practical appeal as they get older.

“The two cars complement each other perfectly,” he said.

“The real DNA of WRX over time has been its driving credibility, and I know with the new one, certainly from the factory point of view, the driving experience was paramount. I know some of the cars they’ve benchmarked it against, they’re very excited.

“I’ve had the opportunity to drive it and I think it will not disappoint any of those existing customers and will appeal to new customers because of the changes they’ve made, though I’m not going to go into that today. But everyone is conscious we’ve got to widen the appeal.

“It will offer more appeal in any context, performance, interior, design etc. It’s always the challenge to be true to that customer base but also reaching out to see if we can get more people. No one wants dumb down the performance edge.” Subaru has sold 42,000 WRX models in Australia since 1994. It has been not only a key volume driver, but has boosted the image of the brand amongst – crucially – younger clientele.

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