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New BRZ Continues Sales Slide; Why Doesn’t Subaru Axe The Sports Coupe

The Subaru BRZ gets more power and increased performance, but it’s still underperforming in sales. Why doesn't Subaru axe the sports coupe?

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Subaru’s bread and butter vehicles are the Forester SUV, Outback wagon and Crosstrek crossover all-wheel-drive vehicles, but what’s wrong with the sporty BRZ? Subaru launched the BRZ rear-drive sports coupe with Toyota in 2012 to add a new coupe in the lineup and it was an instant success. Some dealers were marking up the rear-wheel-drive sports car as much as $5,000 over the MSRP because demand was high.

But things have changes since its launch. The BRZ two-wheel-drive coupe is underperforming and sales have been steadily dropping especially in the last few years. Last year, BRZ closed the year down 21.8 percent over 2015, the worst performing model in Subaru’s lineup. But in the first 6 months of 2017, the trend seems to be changing. May and June saw an increase in sales over 2016, and the two-door coupe, but the coupe is still down 4.6 percent for the year. The Legacy sedan is down 15.8 percent, so BRZ is not the only model that is underperforming. All other models are up YTD.

Is Subaru concerned?

Subaru knows the sports coupe is never going to be a volume leader for the brand, and serves a very specific purpose in the lineup. Subaru uses the BRZ like many automakers do with their sports cars. The BRZ gets non-core (all-wheel-drive) customers into Subaru showrooms.

Subaru will never get away from their niche market of all-wheel-drive, they want to attract new buyers who are driving enthusiasts. This goes right along with Subaru’s philosophy of building cars that are fun-to-drive. It’s why they sell the Subaru WRX and WRX STI performance cars. Nick Senior, Subaru’s Australia boss says, “It hasn’t changed the philosophy, it hasn’t changed the customer sentiment. We are still primarily an all-wheel-drive company and always will be.”

BRZ attracts a different customer

The BRZ sports coupe also puts the brand in a new light with first-time customers. It’s not about volume, and it attracts the type of buyer that traditionally would not walk into a Subaru showroom. A third reason is, Subaru is targeting a younger buyer with the BRZ. If they buy a sports coupe, they might come back and buy a Crosstrek, Outback or Forester when their family grows and they need a bigger vehicle. It’s why Subaru isn’t concerned about BRZ’s drop in sales.

tSSubaru launches the 2018 BRZ tS in the U.S.

Subaru has revamped the BRZ for 2018 and it will get a new BRZ tS that will launch in North America. The Japanese automaker is building 500 examples of the 2018 BRZ tS and it will come with suspension and exterior upgrades over the standard model. It will feature STI-tuned front and rear SACHS dampers and coil springs as well as flexible V-braces under the hood. The BRZ tS also gets new 18-inch lightweight STI wheels for the first time and they’ll be wrapped in 215/40 R 18 Michelin Pilot Sport 4 tires, and Brembo brakes round-out the performance package.

Even though the 2017 Subaru BRZ sports coupe is underperforming compared to most of its stablemates, the sports coupe serves a specific purpose in the lineup. It brings new customers in the door. Subaru will keep the two-door rear-drive coupe around, and it’s not dying a slow death. The 2018 Subaru BRZ tS will arrive in the first quarter of 2018. Stay tuned.

Photo credit: Subaru

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FB (not verified)    July 30, 2017 - 12:34PM

How about it needs more power? Oh please don't lecture me that not everything is horsepower, it is not, but it is a large part of the equation. They just need to add the Subie 268 HP, 2.0 turbo, some structural / suspension mods, charge 5-7K more and voila....You can buy a VW GTI and run circles around this car, plus it has 4 doors, larger cargo capacity, and fits 4-5 people. Also, the flat roof lends itself to carrying outdoor stuff like bicycles and kayaks.

Matt (not verified)    July 31, 2017 - 11:59AM

In reply to by FB (not verified)

With that engine it would easily out-perform the WRX STI, which is supposed to be Subaru's halo car.

Also the car is a partnership with Toyota. They can't put the première Subaru engine in the Toyota 86. They probably have an agreement to keep the performance identical between the two badges. Cosmetic differences only.

BRZ LOVER (not verified)    August 9, 2017 - 11:36PM

They cant add a Turbo because the Insurance cost is already too high.

Horsepower and Torque is EASILY raised with new exhaust, ECU tune and E85 ethanol gas.

Does not cost that much to do this.

All the BRZ Haters in this room would have their asses handed to them if I found them driving on a canyon road.

Enjoy your lease car is paid off.

Doesnt handling matter anymore?

Tommy (not verified)    December 2, 2017 - 3:36PM

The car has no balls, I personally have dumped 11k into my car to get 400 to the wheels on ethanol. With the turbo (gtx3076r) the car is a blast, but after owning it for 3 months I had to void warranty. You won't understand unless you own it or sell it because you don't have money to fix the crap 170hp to the wheels issue.