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Subaru whips Impreza into shape with leather

Hot seat: Subaru's Impreza R base model gets leather upholstery for $500 in a new limited edition to spur sales.

R-rated Subaru Impreza gets black leather trim to turn on buyers

10 Mar 2010

SUBARU has gone for the leather to restore equilibrium to sales of its Impreza small car which have fallen away by 28 per cent this year after two successive years of volume growth.

While Subaru is enjoying impressive customer support for its new Liberty and Outback – up 90 per cent and 133 per cent respectively this year compared with the first two months of 2009 – Impreza has been unable to keep pace with its newly-refreshed stablemates, selling 716 units last month compared with 1201 in February 2009.

The company has reacted by announcing a special-edition version of its Impreza R entry-level sedan and hatch, adding black leather upholstery for a $500 premium over the standard Impreza R price.

Subaru has ordered up 1000 of the limited-edition Imprezas to go on sale in April at $24,490 driveaway for the five-speed manual and $26,490 driveaway for the four-speed automatic.

And if leather is not your bag, Subaru has also announced a reduced driveaway price for standard cloth-seat Impreza R manual sedan and hatch, down $1000 to $23,990.

The current Impreza range, which was introduced in five-door hatchback form in September 2007 and reinforced with the arrival of the sedan in a year later, is set to get a new variant, the high-riding off-road XV hatch, later this year.

The pumped up Impreza XV, which was revealed at the recent Geneva motor show, will come with a unique grille and interior trim, as well as the standard all-wheel-drive system and 2.0-litre four-cylinder boxer petrol engine found in the local Impreza R, RX and RS.

This year, the Impreza is one of 20 small-car models in a field of 27 to lose ground in the sales race in Australia, with segment leaders – the Hyundai i30, Toyota Corolla, Mazda3, Mitsubishi Lancer and Holden Cruze – making gains at the expense of smaller players.

Overall Subaru sales, however, are up 11.3 per cent year to date, and despite a slight decrease in market share, down from 4.3 per cent last year to 4.2 this year, it has now edged ahead of Honda into eighth place on the best-sellers’ list.

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