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And Now, Subaru's Take On The 'Toyobaru' Experiment

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2009 Toyota FT-86 Concept

2009 Toyota FT-86 Concept

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It's no secret that Toyota and Subaru have been collaborating on a new coupe for some time. In fact, we've mentioned the mythical "Toyobaru" on numerous occasions, and even hazarded a guess that Toyota's version of the lovechild might fill the gap left by the long-lost Celica. On Tuesday, Marty Padgett showed us the Toyota FT-86 (pictured at left), which may confirm our guesswork when it's fully revealed at the 2009 Tokyo Motor Show two weeks from now. As for Subaru, we've just come across renderings of its own "Toyobaru" offspring, and while the car certainly looks exciting, its future is far less certain. (We'd post an image here, but the owners of those renderings have gotten a little grabby.)

Like the Toyota FT-86, the Subaru coupe (name TBD) is a front-engined, rear-wheel-drive model, which is a little unusual for 4WD-friendly Subaru. Also unusual is the design, which is sleeker and more sophisticated than many of Subaru's chunky, rounded profiles. Because of these differences, the model appears to be causing division within Subaru's ranks.

The problem seems to be that this coupe speaks to a slightly different -- and slightly broader -- audience than the one Subaru currently reaches. After Subaru's marketing team evaluates consumer response to the vehicle, it may turn out that the coupe pushes Subaru into new demographic territory. That sort of expansion would be risky at any time, but far more so given today's fragile global economy and weak auto market.

Sales and marketing aside, however, there are some practical reasons that make producing the coupe a sensible move. Most importantly, Subaru is already supplying the platform, suspension, brakes, and two-liter, flat-four engine for the Toyota FT-86, and all of those components would also be included in the Subaru coupe. In other words, the company will already have many of the parts for the coupe on-hand. Moreover, the FT-86 is being manufactured at a Subaru factory in Japan, so we know Subaru has the facility to produce its own. (Although bandwidth is a different matter.)

We won't know anything for certain about the vehicle until the Tokyo Motor Show -- that's assuming Subaru chooses to unveil it at all. And we likely won't know until well after the show whether the coupe will make it into production. But for you Subaru fans, here's hoping.

[PistonHeads]

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Comments (4)
  1. Interesting report. In the US, a broader demographic would be seen as an opportunity but clearly Subaru has a different risk profile than their competitors. Which is kind of ironic since Subaru has a pretty narrow demographic now, selling 2 sedans and 4 wagons for snow country. One would think a sporty, RWD 2 door for younger folks would be desirable, no?
     
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  2. Personally -- seriously, this is just me talking -- I think Subaru has a very clear idea of its target market, and it's done a great job of reaching them. Expansion would be challenging for a couple of reasons: (a) it would take Subaru out of its comfort zone, (b) it could water down Subaru's brand, (c) it would require more marketing and manufacturing muscle, and (d) it would be a financial gamble (just as any new product launch is). In this economy, there's something to be said for manufacturers like MINI who understand their product, know their market, and are happy doing what they do best.
     
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  3. Those sketches of the purported Subaru turned out to be fake. Which is just as well, because I didn't find them too attractive, IMO, though they did have the quirky vibe that Subaru aims(?, or stumbles upon) for.
    Subaru could save themselves a fair amount of capital (for the machine tools) just by hiring some real designers to get the proper results the first time, instead of doing rush facelifts two years into a production cycle to correct the faults on their vehicles.
    As for the Toyota, is looks very good; by Toyota standards, it's astoundingly good. I hope they keep it intact and put it into production.
     
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  4. While this toyota version looks cool and i love the front engine rear drive design, it isn't a usable daily driver. Subaru's are always usable cars, even the hot WRX versions. Subaru should put a hatchback body on it with decent cargo space like a VW golf. Also avoid the tempation to make it look fast so it's less visible to cops and can actually be driven fast.
     
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