Quiet debut for Subaru

Posted by: Douglas Macmillan on April 5, 2007

subaru.jpg

In the land of the jaw-dropping exotics, futuristic concepts, celebrity endorsements and Trail Rated Test Tracks of the 2007 New York International Auto Show, the 2008 Subara Impreza WRX entered the auto world with little fanfare. The 4-door sedan and 5-door hatchback models have a smart new design, lighter bodies, and 2.5-liter flat-four Boxer engine producing 224 hp. New options of electronic stability control and a high-tech navigation system add value to the offer. Both should be solid rides for under $25,000.

So where’s the love for Scooby? The brand seems to struggle to communicate a clear identity. Many of its cars fill an emerging segment of young, low-income drivers - yet to young people like myself, Subaru is far from an icon of cool.

The marque of the new Impreza WRX underscores this concern: it’s a completely new logo, supposedly modelled after the company’s aviation heritage. Booooring. They’d be better off looking towards the future, not the past.

Reader Comments

Brendan Moore

April 6, 2007 2:41 PM

I agree; Subaru is a bit lost from a branding/image perspective. Good cars for the most part, but what's the message that Subaru wants prospective buyers to come away with after looking at a Subaru, finding Subaru online, seeing a Subaru commercial, or reading a magazine ad by Subaru? It's muddled and ambiguous.

B Moore - Autosavant.net

M. Laurence

April 7, 2007 10:12 PM

Good lord, when did a $25,000 car become a potential car of choice for "low-income" drivers? I realize that for a small segment of the population we're in a wonderful era of prosperity, but $25,000 isn't chump change even for, say, a single income family bringing in over 100k. Believe me.

That being said, the WRX may be trying to spruce up its image, but from what I understand the real appeal of the car is that it is easy to mod into a custom street rod. In fact, I believe it is the single most modded model on the market right now, both for street cache and as stock car racing vehicles. Even as the happy owner of a Legacy, however, I must say that Subaru in general could use a good solid branding identity makeover.

John V

April 11, 2007 6:14 AM

Subaru's always been bipolar: It sells sensible, ultra-competent Outback wagons by the bucketload, and it also has their loud, rambunctious baby brothers, the WRX and STi performance cars. Weird mix.

At the NYAS preview, one of the Subie guys said they're focusing more on standard Imprezas now that they've learned a bunch of Outback owners are buying Corollas--because they had no idea the base, non-winged, non-mag-wheeled, low-cost Impreza actually existed.

The company got hammered in the mid-Eighties for trying to compete head to head with Toyota, Nissan and Honda. But now, with AWD increasingly available in crossovers, what IS Subie's USP?

I'm hardly biased (I'm on my 4th Subaru) but I worry a bit about their future.

OTOH, the restyled Tribeca should do well now that it's not so fugly.

rainman8945

May 3, 2007 12:18 PM

just bought 2007 subaru forester ll.bean edition. complete as any crossover suv, or then again a mid size suv. i`m middle class retired, the price is right on the spot . i`m talking final sale price not msrp. awd ,abs, all the best in safety features. as far as styling goes, if suits me fine. all these new bubble look suv`s are starting to look alike.

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