• Apr 21st 2008 at 3:58PM
  • 54
One topic of debate that began raging after Toyota and Subaru officially announced their collaboration on a lightweight, rear-wheel-drive coupe was how the Toyobaru would be marketed, particularly with both brands getting their own models. Apparently, Subaru execs share our concerns.
Subaru has branded itself as the purveyor of competent, multi-purpose vehicles that begin and end with one distinct feature: all-wheel-drive. By adding another vehicle into its lineup lacking that core trait, Subaru risks diluting its hard-earned image, not to mention going toe-to-toe with the Toyota monolith by selling a badge-engineered variant.

Automotive News spoke with Fuji Heavy Industries overseas sales chief, Mat Nagato, who said, "We may lose our longstanding territory, or we may lose the great niche brand image. The potential risk is there. We have to be very smart on marketing strategy." This issue has to be weighed against the short-term gain of a new, inexpensive model for enthusiasts and Subaru's continued growth, but the simple solution would be to nix the Subaru version altogether, allow Toyota to brand the new coupe as its own and rake in the cash provided by the partnership. Unfortunately, that's not going to happen, so the only thing Subaru can do now is make an attempt to differentiate its own version from Toyota's, while praying that consumers won't forget what "Makes a Subaru a Subaru."

[Source: Automotive News – Sub. Req.]

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 7 Years Ago
      I also agree:

      Subaru: AWD
      Toyota: RWD and maybe AWD

      Makes perfect sense.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Subaru will have blood on the floor from shooting themselves in the foot by not adding AWD. I think they will make more money if they add the dam thing and charge a little more over the Toyota version. IMO Subaru's quality is just as good as Toyotas.
      • 7 Years Ago
      My bet here is that this is a "contract" build.

      Toyo needs something to appeal to the RWD enthusiast. Look at how the tuners have taken to the WRX and others. Imagine what Toyo could do in that market with a less expensive RWD offering.

      So they use the H4 layout for its low center of gravity, a straightforward, low dev cost RWD platform and Fuji Heavy does the build - which increases their revenue - and, viola', a new Toyo Sports Car and better health for our friends the AWD masters.

      And - as sweetener for Fuji - they say: "You guys sell it too as a Subaru." But no body from Fuji says: "No!"

      This could be ugly.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Wow... I've never seen so many posts in such overwhelming agreement before. Certainly a rare sight on Autoblog.

      Toyota... Subaru... Are you listening?
        • 7 Years Ago
        agreed. Not even in posts where pure hate pours out is there ever so much agreement on autoblog..... this truly must be a historic moment!!!
      • 7 Years Ago
      If I were to turn commie and buy an import, I'd consider Subaru. I'd consider them more seriously if they offered something not AWD. Sorry, I don't need it. I have two trucks for when I need more traction. Running back and forth to work, it's not need 99% of the year.
      • 7 Years Ago
      "...but the simple solution would be to nix the Subaru version altogether..."

      Pull your head out, Subaru. This car appeals to exactly the same demographic that isn't buying the sucky new WRX--and still loves the old one. You can't afford to piss them off again.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Subaru 3200lbs
      Impreza coupe $20k 170hp NA AWD
      Impreza WRX coupe $25k 224hp turbo AWD
      Impreza STI coupe $35k 305hp turbo AWD

      Toyota 2900lbs
      Celica $20k 170hp NA RWD
      Celica GT $25k 224hp Turbo RWD
      Celica GT-4 $35k 305hp Turbo AWD
      the base and GT will just have to deal with having the 2.5 boxer engine hang out in front of the front wheels.

      whats so hard about that.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Make a 4 door version of the car with a stretched wheel base and throw in AWD. Gives people an alternative option versus that hideous piece of crap designed machinery!
      • 7 Years Ago
      Suburu is known for AWD and I honestly think they're destroying their image by releasing a car without that standard. What's best known in my mind about suburu is the fact that they're rally cars, without the AWD it seems like they're giving up on their image.

      Suburu, I think this is a giant mistake.
        • 7 Years Ago
        Would it Kill you to sell a car with good gas mileage? Are you guys even aware of the price of gas, global warming, Peak Oil or Arab Terrorists?

        Now, there's an article on peak oil about gas shortages by 2016. After that, you won't be selling ANYTHING.

        • 7 Years Ago
        Subaru does make tones of fuel effiecient 2WD vehicles you know. Maybe if they sold one of them in the US they could start playing with the big boys, sales numbers wise.
        • 7 Years Ago
        Yes, but will the design layout allow for driving all four wheels?

        It is a no-brainer if that is the case, but on a low-cost platform for enthusiasts where will be the front wheels relative to the engine?

        Based on Mat's comments in the interview - this thing is engineered for RWD only.

        Nooooooooo! Subaru. Nooooooo!
        • 7 Years Ago
        Relax. The Subaru version will almost undoubtedly be AWD.

        I think it's a fairly simple decision. Toyota gets the RWD version, Subaru gets the AWD version, massaged sheetmetal to differentiate the two and keep each in line with corporate identities, bish bash bosh, everybody wins.

        To be fair, though, STI-swapped Toyota variants would make wicked drift and drag machines. I doubt there will be a factory RWD version with the EJ257, but it'll be an easy swap.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Just commenting to say this is a silly post.

      Like everyone else has said...

      Put AWD in the Subaru and call it a day.

      What's the problem?

      If it's going to be a truly new platform (not a cut version of something already being built), I see no issues.

      Engineers get paid to figure this stuff out.
      • 7 Years Ago
      I thought I had recalled reading(it may have been a few years ago) that Subaru was considering moving away from the all-AWD, all the time models they've been pushing for a while now. They cited cost and economy reasons.

      They'd be able to offer a cheaper, more economical product without AWD(better fuel economy), and add AWD as an option instead(thus making the lesser versions cheaper). Like they used to do. Recall that Subaru has not always offered standard AWD on all their vehicles. A new, RWD model would seem to work fine if they did that.

      While I somewhat agree that perhaps the Subaru version should still retain the option of AWD, I don't necessarily agree with having it mimic the WRX as some of the posts here claimed, even down to using identical engines. They are not going to re-hash the Impreza/WRX philosophy and just plop it onto a new platform. I really don't see the justification for that. But, designing the platform for AWD would add additional cost to the project and would be unnecessary if only the Subaru verion got AWD.

      If both got AWD, then we'd basically have badge-engineering going on which seems to be objectionable when GM or Ford do it, but appears to be applauded here when Toyota and Subaru do it.

      I see more of a Miata, Soltice/Sky type vehicle, perhaps a bit bigger like a 2+2. Smaller, lightweight RWD and possibly a convertible(or maybe a hardtop version and a convertible version). Both are vehicles neither manufacturer has. Subaru offers no convertibles and no coupes, this can be both. Toyota has only the Solara convertible(apparently still being produced to my surprise)which isn't small or particularly sporty and no sport coupe now that the Celica and MR-S are deceased.

      This new model could fit in very well into both automakers inventories and offers plenty that neither one have currently. As opposed to an Impreza/WRX clone.

      • 7 Years Ago
      Adding AWD isn't as simple as saying "just make it AWD." Given this car's lightweight, compact sports design brief--and the resultant tight packaging--that's like asking Mazda to "just make an AWD Miata."

      Not that I think RWD will hurt the final product much. Given the choice between a Subaru and a Toyota, I think young enthusiasts would find the former brand more interesting and desirable. There's your market.
        • 7 Years Ago
        Give my RWD with a good LSD over AWD with a WRX any day.
        • 7 Years Ago

        Why not just buy a RWD car then? Plenty of other companies are making them. Take your pick.

        Why would you want a WRX without the AWD?

        I have no doubt that a RWD Toyota (AE86-deux) will be popular. But it should wear a Toyota badge. A Subaru badge deserves and needs AWD under the bodywork.

        I realize there is a torque difference, but if you want RWD with a LSD, and good handling, with 4 seats, why would you not go for something like Genesis Coupe, or RX8, or even Mustang GT?

        And, PJ...
        If the Miata were built on a Subaru chassis, which this car will be, it would not be a stretch to expect AWD on the Subaru variant of it.

        This isn't a new chassis platform, folks. This is a new Coupe on a new refinement of the existing Subaru chassis, sans front axle shafts for a toyota-clad model for lighter weight, less price, and more efficiency.

        Retaining Subaru's AWD should be a given in a Subaru-sourced chassis, with a Subaru badge on the grille.
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