Subaru will launch a trio of new models in the next year to shore up flagging UK sales. The new XV and new sports car will expand the UK Subaru range by 50% and put the malnourished brand back on the map, the UK's managing director told CAR.
The new Subaru XV is a Nissan Qashqai rival and will change little from the concept car shown at the 2011 Shanghai auto show. It will go on sale in spring 2012.
And Subaru's take on the Toyota FT-86 coupe will arrive at the same time. It will sport a 2.0-litre naturally aspirated boxer engine and be resolutely rear-wheel drive, unusual for Subaru.
Subaru UK: the sales story
Subaru's UK sales have flagged in recent years, as the trend for rally-derived turbos waned and new product such as the hatchback Impreza confused buyers. It has sold fewer than 4000 cars here annually for the past two years.
But with the addition of the new XV and coupe - plus a new Impreza arriving in 2012 - Paul Tunnicliffe, managing director of Subaru UK, pledges the brand will soon be back to 6000-7000 sales a year.
'In the 1990s, we used to sell 2000-3000 STi models alone, but that trend has passed' said Tunnicliffe. 'We have had to diversify and will now launch several new models.
'The XV is a rival for the Ford Kuga and Nissan Qashqai. It's four-wheel drive only and we'll offer a 1.6 and 2.0-litre petrols and a 2.0-litre diesel. We are hoping for around 2000 XV sales in a full year.
'The new Subaru Coupe will be a lower volume product, at around 500 a year. It will have a 200bhp 2.0-litre naturally aspirated engine and it's going to be a lot of fun.'
Making Subaru profitable again
Tunnicliffe admitted that the company was barely profitable at less than 4000 cars a year, but predicted that the new models would push sales back to 6500-7000 sales by 2012.
Subaru has been hit by a 45% growth in the exchange rate of the yen and the March 2011 earthquake is likely to hit supply this year. But the company has committed to a new model programme which should see the quirky Japanese manufacturer back on the map for enthusiasts wanting something distinctive.