The Subaru WRX sports sedan and BRZ/Toyota 86 coupes, are one of the last vehicles in the stable to offer both a manual gearbox and an automatic transmission. The Subaru WRX STI is the only Subaru model to only offer a manual rower. How many buyers are opting for the stick shift in the WRX, and BRZ/Toyota 86? We were surprised by the answer.
According to a report from CarBuzz, Toyota spokesperson Nancy Hubbell told them at the Supra launch that Toyota only sells about 33 percent of the GT 86 sports coupe with a 6-speed manual gearbox. A full two-thirds of 86 buyers are opting for the automatic transmission with manual mode and paddle shifters. The BRZ/86 is a car for driving enthusiasts that begs for a manual gearbox but not many Toyota buyers want a clutch pedal.
It’s a different story at Subaru. We reached out to Subaru of America and they told Torque News that for the last full year (18MY), the Camden, N.J. automaker sold about 78 percent of the BRZ sports coupe with manual rowers leaving only 22 percent of buyers opting for the 6-speed automatic.
The Subaru WRX is purchased by even more buyers opting for a 6-speed manual gearbox. A full 90 percent are opting for the standard 6-speed manual transmission over the automatic. It’s no surprise because Subaru uses a Continuously Variable automatic transmission (CVT) which is not a popular choice with performance enthusiasts. While it’s better than previous generation CVTs it’s still not up to speed with a 6-speed automatic.
Impreza and Crosstrek
Where do the Impreza and Crosstrek fall into the manual gearbox mix? Subaru of America only sells 8 percent of its Impreza models with manual gearboxes and Crosstrek comes in at just 6 percent. Look for the Japanese automaker to drop the manual box in these models soon.
The main reason why the 6-speed manual option is going away on most Subaru models is that the Japanese automaker wants to have their most popular models come standard with EyeSight driver assist like the all-new 2020 Outback and the 2019 Forester launching with standard EyeSight last year. Subaru cannot configure manual transmissions with the EyeSight driver assist safety system.
With so many manual transmissions being sold in the U.S., don’t look for Subaru Corp to ditch the 6-speed manual rower in the sport-tuned 2019 Subaru WRX sedan or BRZ sports coupe, anytime soon. The BRZ/Toyota 86 is manufactured at the Subaru plant in Gunma, Japan so the Toyota 86 will keep the 6-speed manual gearbox as well.
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Photo credit: Subaru USA