Subaru to Boost Sales with 3 New Models : Exiga, Impreza Sedan, Facelift Forester

Subaru Exiga picture

Subaru are set to launch 3 new models in Thailand. The first being the all-new Exiga. This is billed as a 7-seater MPV and is expected to cost around THB 2 million for the base model when it arrives in Subaru showrooms.

Subaru will also be launching the sedan (4-door) version of the Impreza, although the appeal of the 5 door version is starting to catch on as the hatchback model gains fans. Subaru's decision to turn the Impreza into a hatchback was met with an initial wave of criticism, which seems to have mostly died out after people got a chance to get behind the wheel.

Finally Subaru are expected to launch a face-lifted Forester in the hope of eking out a few extra sales in the executive market.

Subaru Exiga

Although Subaru is calling the Exiga a MPV, from these pictures it resembles a 7-seater estate car. Car makers are starting to blur the lines with the labels they place on their vehicles, and where they choose to categorise them.

Subaru Exiga image

To me, the Exiga looks very much like a seven-seat Legacy estate.

Subaru Exiga image

I'll let the images tell the story for this one. The +/- 2 million baht pricing of the Exiga will fall somewhere between that of the Impreza and the Legacy.

Subaru Exiga image

Power will come from Subaru's flat 4 engines, with a 2 litre and 2 litre turbo on offer. Naturally, being a Subaru, we will be sure of the famous full-time-4-wheel-drive system.

Subaru Exiga image

The Exiga will most likely be introduced to the Thai public in the 4th quarter, taking advantage of the 2008 Motor Expo as a launch event.

Impreza 4-door

Also likely to arrive in time for the 2008 Motor Expo in November, the 4-door Impreza is likely to help boost sales a little. Some fans are still put off by the hatchback Impreza, and the inclusion of the sedan model might win them back.

Impreza Sedan Image

The sedan is expected to have the same engine options, including the 1.5 litre base model, all the way up to the 2.5 litre turbo, with pricing topping out at just under THB 4 million.

Sluggish sales

Subaru had modest sales target of 400 units in Thailand in 2008, but now they are aiming for just 300 units. Disappointing sales to date have been blamed on the rising fuel price and uncertainty in the economical and political stability. But some of the trouble for Subaru is that they are a niche brand, and are trying to sell their products based on the "superior technology" they claim to have, in terms of their flat 4-cylinder engine layout, and their 4-wheel drive systems. Neither of these offer any clear advantages to the average motorist, and this means that the base models look over priced next to locally assembled rivals.

Subaru recognise the trend towards economical cars, particularly sub 2000 cc engines, and those using E20 fuel. New models will be E20 capable, but given the premium pricing on Subaru models, it's unlikely that such a move will really do all that much to make a difference to sales.

Subaru are spending around 100 million baht on after sales in Thailand, including a "Subaru AWD Driving School" program to promote after-sales service. The program is aimed at the current Subaru customers, numbering around 3,000, and is supposed to help them get the most out of the AWD system, and particularly, to promote safe driving.

Subaru make very solid cars, and they have an excellent reputation for reliability, as well as performance, and exciting driving dynamics. If Subaru were to locally assemble the Impreza and sell it with prices starting in the sub 1 million baht range, then they would certainly be enjoying strong sales. As it stands, they might struggle to meet their revised target of 300 units in 2008.

Subaru Exiga Picture Gallery