Thursday, March 31, 2016

Is it Time For a Smaller Subaru?

2017 Subaru Impreza
The 2017 Subaru Impreza models get more power and increase in size.
Information about the all-new U.S.-built 2017 Subaru Impreza dropped last week, and things look good. It'll come in both sedan and hatchback configurations, the 2.0-liter boxer engine will be up four horsepower to 152, the sheet metal has been revised, and the new Sport trim will have 18-inch wheels. There's gobs of tech and safety, four trim levels, and of course, standard all-wheel drive.

And like just about every new car out there, the Impreza is getting larger. The wheelbase is going up to 105.1 inches (1-inch longer than the current model), and both the sedan and five-door are 1.6-inches longer and 1.5-inches wider than the 2017 models. This puts the '17 Impreza at 182.1 inches in length. This begs the question: Is there room for a car to slot under the Impreza?




We all know that gas prices are low right now so most manufacturers aren't placing a priority on small cars. But let's pretend Subaru does, in fact, decide it wants to slot something under the Impreza. What would it be?

Subaru Trezia

Looking at the company's existing lineup from other parts of the world, the only vehicle that'd be plausible to import and federalize would be the subcompact Trezia, although it is already long in the tooth. Still on sale in Japan, it was sold in Europe from 2012–2014.

The Trezia is not a "real" Subaru, if you will. It's a rebadged Toyota Ractics. But at just 157 inches in length and possessing a 100-inch wheel base, it's only 2-inches longer than a Toyota Yaris. It does feature the Toyota 1NZ-FE engine, is available with AWD, and could be a great option for those looking for something about the size of a Honda Fit or Nissan Versa Note, but want AWD. But at its age (the Ractis first appeared in 2010), it's unlikely this version would show up in North America.

Toyota Porte
The Toyota Porte comes in AWD, but might be too weird and small for the Subaru badge, and the North American market.
The other natural thought would be to bring over something AWD from the existing JDM Toyota lineup, since Toyota and Subaru are already partners. But looking at the Toyota Japan lineup, there isn't a whole lot to choose from that would fit the bill or isn't already offered in the U.S. Yes, there are a lot of AWD options in the JDM lineup, but many of these cars feature weird sliding doors (such as the Toyota Porte pictured above), are already aged (like the Toyota Urban Cruiser (sold as the now-defunct Scion xD), or are too small for the North American market (any of the kei car offerings).

But let's face it: Subaru already sells a healthy amount of Impreza and Crosstrek models (155,712 units in 2015), and they probably don't have a need to go any smaller than those cars—at least not at this point. After all, why move into segment with low margins if the Impreza is already doing well?

I would be first in line for a smaller, AWD Subaru (with a manual transmission, of course). Maybe a new Justy? But until gas prices spike up again, I think the Impreza—ever-growing or not—will be Subaru's smallest offering.

3 comments:

Ducati Scotty said...

Bring back the Justy!

Webb Rowan said...

I don't think that Subaru needs to edge away from what it does best, but again it always pays to give people options!

Anonymous said...

Yes please! On Subaru #3 here, Forester, definitely a fan but I live in a big city, I would love a Mini sized Subie.