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.
Subaru 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