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No front-drive Impreza, says Subaru

Booted: New four-box sedan will join the Impreza hatch range next month.

Subaru will stick with all-wheel drive for its small-car contender

27 Nov 2008

SUBARU will not market a front-wheel drive version of its popular Impreza small car range in Australia in the foreseeable future.

This is according to Subaru Australia managing director Nick Senior, who reiterated that having the ‘Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive’ drivetrain is one of the core differences between the Impreza and its predominantly front-wheel drive rivals.

“If you do that, you put (Subaru) in the same pack as the rest of the small-car brigade,” Mr Senior remarked.

“Our traditional strength has been to do things differently, and not do what everybody else does.” He went on to say that ‘doing’ a front-wheel drive small car means that the Impreza merely becomes just another Toyota Corolla or Mazda3 clone.

“We are 3.8 or 3.9 per cent of the market. We need to do things differently. We need to appeal with our differences and not our sameness,” Mr Senior explained.

“And certainly a front-wheel drive Impreza I think will not add any value to the brand, brand proposition or indeed probably to sales.”

2 center image Mr Senior (left) indicated that it has been this uniqueness that has helped the Impreza find a broader demographic since the third-generation model was introduced in the latter half of 2007.

“With what we have done with Impreza, since its launch last year, is (see its) sales go up by seven per cent, with no sedan and appealing to a new audience… which I think we have been successful in attracting new growth audiences… particularly what we call ‘professional ladies segment’ – female buyers 25 right through to 55…” The long-serving Subaru boss went on to dispel any theories that the company may have to investigate a front-wheel drive Impreza in order to offset the inevitable price rises next year as a direct result of the falling value of the Australian dollar against other currencies – namely the Japanese yen.

“Everyone is in the same basket. I mean, nobody is going to be immune from that. There are no locally-produced small cars and even if there was there would be a fair amount of imported componentry.

“What we’re saying is that our proposition is different, we can give you a boxer-engined all-wheel drive car with the highest level of safety and strong standard equipment.

“And we have charged a premium on that for some time and the market is saying ‘Okay, we accept that’ because we know we’ve got strong loyalty, strong retention and that we are selling between 700 and 800 Imprezas a month.

“People like it. People like all-wheel drive and they don’t want to give it up,” he added.

Subaru introduced the original Impreza in April 1993 in both front and all-wheel drive (AWD) iterations, with the former available as the cheaper-priced alternative until the Subaru in Australia went all-AWD from September 1998, to coincide with the AWD-only G3 Liberty and Outback range.

Buoyed by the stellar success of the WRX range-topper, the G1 Impreza models continued on in AWD-only guise until the AWD-only G2 version succeeded it in late 2000.

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