By on December 14, 2012

If you read British buff books like EVO, it would be easy to think that the hot versions of the Subaru Impreza are fixtures of the UK’s motoring landscape. Not only are they beloved by enthusiasts, but the WRX is even employed as a police car in certain municipalities. But starting in 2013, British car buyers won’t be able to purchase one of the small Scoobies.

A lack of demand has led Subaru UK to kill off the Impreza, and its more sporting variants. AutoExpress reports that

“The new Impreza has been under evaluation in the UK for 12 months, but the decision has been taken not to bring that car to the UK because of insufficient demand…Subaru is concentrating on what it’s really good at – so we’re concentrating on SUVs and the BRZ – we’re hoping to get more [BRZs] next year to satisfy strong demand for that car.”

That means that going foward, the XV, Outback and Forester will be the staples of the lineup, as well as the BRZ. The Legacy may not even survive. Luckily, UK buyers can still import vehicles from Japan as grey market cars.

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28 Comments on “Subaru UK Kills Off Impreza, WRX, STI...”


  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    Give the people what they want, don’t waste time force feeding them what they don’t. I believe Honda stopped selling the Civic in Japan due to similar conditions. Can’t blame the British. Station wagons (which these CUVs essentially are) just make more sense.

  • avatar
    msquare

    Because the UK is a right-hand-drive market (wonder if this applies to Ireland as well), Subaru has to send over cars specifically for them. Japanese-market cars are RHD as well, but I’m sure there are spec differences for Europe, which is why the continent is not affected.

    Slow demand in Spain can be made up for in France or Germany because all are left-hand drive and all are common spec. Running off a few hundred cars of unique specification doesn’t make much economic sense. It’s a reason you can’t get an RHD Lancia.

    Note also that there is nothing barring a Brit from buying a car anywhere else in Europe and registering it at home. He just has to deal with the steering wheel on the wrong side of the car with respect to the side of the road he drives on.

    It’s also one reason among many the used-car market is depressed there. Because RHD cars can’t be palmed off in Europe easily, values take a hit. Want a vintage Peugeot 205 GTI? You’ll pay a lot less for one in the UK than on the continent.

    • 0 avatar

      What about India, Australia, South Africa? Do they count for anything wrt common market?

      • 0 avatar
        mannygg

        Importing a car to Australia, whether from Japan or the UK, is VERY complicated and expensive. Unless you owned the car privatelly overseas, you can’t import without the help of a compliance workshop. With the strong Aussie dollar and weak Pound however, a lot more high end cars (ferraris especially) are being shipped from the UK.

        The flow of vehicles the other way around is almost non-existant due to the weak economics of doing so.

        wrt RHD/LHD, I drive a RHD vehicle on mainland Europe and have no real issues. With the price of enthusiast vehicles in the UK being so low, it was a very affordable choice!

    • 0 avatar
      Robert Gordon

      “Running off a few hundred cars of unique specification doesn’t make much economic sense. It’s a reason you can’t get an RHD Lancia.”

      Which is kind of funny when you consider that for the first 47 years of their existence pretty much all Lancias were RHD

    • 0 avatar
      el scotto

      Rule of thumb is: If is was a Crown Colony when Model T’s came out, its an RHD country.

  • avatar
    zenpup

    Hi gas prices very little snow and abundance of hot hatches in GB put the WRX/STI under.

  • avatar
    Marko

    It seems like Subaru is simply transitioning to the GP/GJ based cars (i.e. XV based) and is trying to wind down production of the old GE/GR/GH/GV platform. There is only one factory (for now) capable of Impreza/Forester/WRX/STI production (Ōta, Gunma), and it can’t be too efficient to have different models that require different lines. Since not too many WRX/STI were sold in the UK anyway, they decided not to import the last year of the old model, and dealers will probably have a supply left anyway. When the new 2014/2015 WRX begins production, the UK will probably get the car along with the rest of the world.

    A similar thing actually seems to be going on with the VW Golf/GTI in the US, but VW is being more subtle about it. (Mk6 production in the only plant capable of making US-market hatches, Wolfsburg, has stopped for good, but VWofA won’t import the new Mk7 until mid-2014. They have only announced the latter. You tell me what’ll happen until then…)

  • avatar
    wmba

    Those UK police WRXs were Impreza GC8s, the model before the bugeye even, back when they weighed 2900 lbs, had a half-decent suspension and truly went like stink.

    If you read Pistonheads or AROonline, or browse the Independent and/or Telegraph’s motoring pages, you’ll find that nobody has been excited about Subies for years. The new 2010 Legacy went down in a heap of lukewarm praise — nasty interior and bad gas mileage. The diesel models are regarded as overpriced for what you get. Sales struggle to make a few hundred a month, just 83 in total for November, 1931 this year. Dead in the water. (Stats from goodcarbadcar.net)

    Suzuki sold 1431 in November for goodness sake.

    Honda’s having the same problems. Regarded as pensioner’s runabouts, sales are so low that the Accord is gone, small Honda local dealers are being force-closed, replaced by far fewer main distributors whose impersonal business methods are driving the blue-rinse set away in droves. Only the “Fit”, Civic and CRV survive. Sales about 4,000 a month, less than Mini, and about half of Nissan and Toyota and Hyundai, charging up the inside.

    http://www.goodcarbadcar.net/2012/12/uk-november-2012-auto-sales-brand-rankings.html?

    I don’t expect Subaru UK to last until 2014, let alone bring in the new WRX. How do you run a national organization on sales of a hundred cars a month?

    Let’s face it, Japanese car sales are a big face plant in Europe right now. Honda, Nissan and Toyota have plants in the UK and a dearth of customers.

    On a brighter, orange note, Subaru XV Crosstreks are multiplying like flies in Canada, proving that if you jack up an Impreza, add really, really ugly wheels, paint the thing in primal colors, you can fool the young urbanites smart enough to NOT lease a BMW but unable to discern much else.

    And I drive a 2008 Subaru Legacy GT myself.

    • 0 avatar
      el scotto

      My mind is still boggling over a diesel WRX. I doubt it goes like stink. Yes, I’ve driven quite nice diesel rental cars in the UK and yes my friends WRX’s go like stink in the twisties of the Blueridge MTNS.

    • 0 avatar
      toomanycrayons

      The CrossTrek is an Impreza you don’t have to crawl out of, the wheels are noticeably noticeable but, apart form a deal-breakingly uncomfortable passenger seat, it’s an entertaining car to drive, much quieter than the Impreza. (I don’t like the boxer “growl.”) CR seems to…still be testing. If the passenger seat had passed The Wife test, we’d have bought one. It appears that most car designers still live single in their parents’ basement. Who knew?

  • avatar
    gslippy

    It doesn’t compute with enthusiasts that for a product to be sustainably profitable means the enthusiasts need to actually buy such cars. Without that, the enthusiast cars get the axe after a while.

  • avatar
    CJinSD

    As the phrase European market share is being replaced by European market exposure, expect choices to diminish even more.

    • 0 avatar
      mike978

      Maybe. But those reducing their ranges (or likely to in the future) are those with already limited sales even before the European economic issues. Also the UK market was the only major one to grow, so Subaru (and Honda to a lesser extent) were already having issues for whatever reason. The wider economic issues just made those more acute.

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        I suspect that the WRX STi, with a CO2 score well above its social station, was doomed by local regulations and fuel prices. I don’t know what’s up with Honda offering heavy hatchbacks with beam axles and equipment levels that emphasize gadgets instead of spec, but I guess I’d still drive one if I had to toil in the UK. They did better when they could sell their high performance naturally aspirated models, but that ship has sailed. Turbo diesels are all passionless dronemobiles, so there is less incentive to step out of the jingoistic Eurobox, unless it is to buy something cheap.

      • 0 avatar
        mike978

        That is a good point about the CO2 rating. The image and price don’t support that rating which the tax system penalizes.
        I also don`t know why Honda (and to a lesser extent Toyota do not do well in the UK (or European market). They followed their US playbook with local manufacturing and local cars (e.g. Avensis). Even with a dominant VW that still leaves 75% of the market.
        I am curious why you think all turbodiesels are boring and passionless. Does the same go for turbo gasoline engines too?

  • avatar

    it’s all the speed cameras in the UK. No-one there can take advantage of high perf cars anymore.

    • 0 avatar
      Sinistermisterman

      … erm no. There are a lot of speed cameras around, but if you have some sense and want to go for a nice drive in a high performance car without attracting the attention of the fuzz and avoid the speed cameras you should not go anywhere near the busier roads and motorways and stick to the more remote routes. There are plenty about, and plenty which will allow some top notch high speed fun without getting you fined and points on your license.
      Case in point – the Snake pass (A57) between Sheffield and Manchester.

    • 0 avatar
      mike978

      Doesn`t explain the sales of M3’s, M5’s etc in the UK market. I agree with the wider point about speed cameras but Subaru’s issues were specific to them.

  • avatar
    Timothy Cain

    It doesn’t matter what kind of Subaru it is – Brits don’t buy them. Announcing that they’re killing off the WRX and STi in the UK in late 2012 akin to announcing the production end of fruitcakes. Yes, they’re still made, but don’t try telling me people eat that stuff.

  • avatar
    niky

    Having driven the latest non-WRX Impreza and the XV, I don’t see any reason to get one over the other. The Xv is more comfortable, drives better, and fuel economy differences are negligible.

  • avatar
    Dimwit

    The sales numbers are down again in Europe. Somebody has to pay. All the imports will feel it and Subie is only the first. I wonder who will actually fold up their tents in Europe?

  • avatar
    panzerfaust

    The WRX is one of those cars that everyone wants to exist but doesn’t want to buy. It’s great in theory but when it comes down to putting your hard earned euro’s/pounds down people choose a hot hatch or a Saloon that looks like everyone else has.

    • 0 avatar
      Power6

      The WRX is still selling strong in the US, personally I don’t understand I think it is a stale product the interior sucks but the widebody move in 2011 was a master stroke for SOA.

      The better it gets for Americans the less the Brits seem to like it I don’t think their press has loved any of the 08+ WRX/STI models the love was built on the old models we never saw in the US.

  • avatar

    BR-Z STI…

    That is all I need to know.

  • avatar
    Lampredi

    What’s wrong with Japanese manufacturers in Europe these days? It seems all tend to do these days is sell SUVs and pickups, and withdrawing from regular car segments (the only notable exception being Toyota).

  • avatar
    jeff_vader

    There are three reasons why the Impreza has expired in the UK.

    1.) The demise of the WRC in the UK. Since its highs during the 80’s and 90’s interest in the World Rally Championship has dropped off a cliff. Especially since the TV rights have been shipped off to various assorted under-exposed stations. But we all want to watch football and running, don’t we?

    2.) The hatchback design. They might have been trying to get the family market but they committed commercial suicide with regard to their core market, who still wanted a saloon car. The story I heard was that the hatchback shape was cheap and available as it was meant to be a Saab 9-3 replacement but GM decided they’d like the funds and they sold the plans to Subaru

    but the big one is

    3.) Their core market can no longer afford new Subarus. It has always been a blue collar performance car in the UK and the days of their customers being automatically able to get finance are gone and there is no way at the moment anyone can borrow onto their mortgage to fund a car. Especially one which will then drink fuel at 24 mpg when in its approaching £4.75 a gallon plus costs a fortune to insure and in some cases costs over £400 a year in road licence tax.

    The Average Joe in the UK is in the same state as his namesake in the US. Holidays are gone, stuff is now replaced when it breaks instead of when a new model comes out and your daily runabout has gone from being a car that can make you grin from ear to ear to a diesel shed that gets you from A to B and sips fuel like a French waiter sips wine.

    Without sounding like a communist, the UK is rapidly becoming a two tier society again and this quite well illustrated when it comes to car purchases. The top tier can still afford to lease or buy outright a BMW, Audi or Merc, the rest of us are downsizing like crazy just to able get to work and still pay to bring up our families.

    I expect other non-status manufacturers to drop their sporting models in the UK fairly shortly. I would be amazed to see the Nissan 370z last more than a few more months. Why would you buy one when you could get a BMW Z3 for the same monthly cost, less road fund, better MPG and a higher residual?

    As the GT-86 is outselling the BRZ in the UK by a fairly large amount, I would have thought that the future of Subaru in the UK is doubtful to say the least.

    Great shame, the Impreza P1 was one of the best cars I have ever driven.


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