By on November 29, 2010

Remember the just-released Toyota Ractis? It’s just dropped in Subaru form, giving the Japanese market the tantalizing choice of two distinct brands for an identical four-door subcompact hatch. Moreover, the Trezia marks a changing of the guard at Subaru: whereas Subaru used to develop and sell a wacky rainbow of subcompact and “kei” cars and trucks (some of which are still visible at Subaru’s Japanese website), all future Subarus smaller than the Impreza will be rebadged Toyotas. This change won’t materially affect the US market, but it can’t help but erode Subaru’s image as an independent small maker of quirky cars. Apparently there is just no place for that kind of automaker in the future… the revolution will be rebadged.

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19 Comments on “Subaru Trezia: The Toyotafication Continues...”

  • avatar

    Too bad; I’d take a resurrected AWD Justy in the states over a Versa or Fit (though in Japan, the Justy is just a re-badged Toyota Passo). Everyone I know who owns Subarus lament their new direction and hope their old Subies last as long as possible, since they can neither afford new Subarus nor get on board with their new designs.

    • 0 avatar

      There never was an AWD Justy in the US. There was a 4WD Justy available, but it was of the part-time, off pavement use only variety. I worked for a Subaru dealer in 1989. There was nothing about a Justy other than the novelty of part time 4wd to make it worth remembering. The FWD ones were available with CVTs, but that just emphasized how unhappy the thrashing little 3 cylinder engines were. Saying that you’d take a Justy over a Fit is like saying you’d take amputation over having your broken thumb set. Ridiculous. Other than rusting prematurely, there wasn’t anything particularly Subaruish about the Justy. I doubt many people even noticed when it started being a rebadged Suzuki Swift/Cultus back in 1995. People getting worked up about Subaru marketing various Toyota products today are only showing their ignorance about the realities of Subaru’s model line over the past 15 years.

  • avatar
    SVX pearlie

    Sad, even if it came over as a Justy.

  • avatar

    If you squint a bit it looks like ‘spawn-of-Predator.’

  • avatar

    Doesn’t this come in AWD under the Subaru badge and only FWD under the Toyota family badge? 

  • avatar

    It kinda looks like a Honda Fit and a Toyota iQ halfbreed. Aside from the badge, nothing about this says Subaru in any way whatsoever.

    edit: I see some Scion xA in it as well.

  • avatar

    Isn’t this out of the GM playbook?

  • avatar
    John R

    We are the Borg. Lower your shields and surrender your ships. We will add your biological and technological distinctiveness to our own. Your culture will adapt to service us. Resistance is futile.

  • avatar

    The weird thing about all this is that Ractis is not “small” (unless you compare it with F-150).

    • 0 avatar

      Dimensionally the Ractis is the same size (within an inch in most dimensions) as a Honda fit (per Wikipedia). It’s a b-class car and small by US standards. It may manage the space it has well, like the Fit, but saying it’s not small is a bit of a tough sell.

  • avatar

    Oh Subaru, say it ain’t so.

    Suddenly the Saab 9-2x looks like a good idea on paper.  This.  As a Subaru?  Is it really possible to strangle the quirk and soul out of one of the quirkest car companies on the planet.  Duh, who am I kidding, GM did it with Saab, and apparently Toyota is hard at it with Subaru.  Yeck.

  • avatar

    As much fun as it is to make “Toyotification” comments, this kind of thing is a) a necessity in modern automobilia and b) not a big deal.
    Making a small car is an expensive proposition: margins are low, and you need huge volume to make money.  It’s hard for Toyota to do it, and Subaru has no chance.  But Subaru needs a small car, especially in Japan or Europe.  They could buy one from an unfriendly competitor, or they could leverage their relationship with Toyota, and probably do so at a lower cost.
    Or, in other words, if you want another WRX or STi, you have to take this.

  • avatar

    Subaru dies a slow death.  Some Japanese cars are certainly looking wierd lately, aren’t they? In the 70’s they looked like insects. Lately they resemble amphibians.

  • avatar

    They should have picked a better dance partner. I used to be a big fan of Subbies, and recommended them frequently. Now I bring family and friends to Subaru dealers as a sort of object lesson, see how that $30k legacy has all the right options but is nowhere near as nice as anything else you could get all at the same time? Same goes for the Outback, Impreza and Forrester. Good on paper, while lacking any pretense of a subjective win. I wanted to vomit in my mouth when MT gave that dog the SUV of the year. Maybe I’m being to harsh to the Impreza, maybe.
    Sharing platforms and pieces is no sin, but I dont’ even think thats the issue here overall. It’s more like the two companies are sharing design philosophies and interior materials aesthetic, when neither has a very good track record in those fields.

    • 0 avatar

      Who would have been better?  GM, Daimler or VW, all of whom have a track record of destroying everything they touch?  Ford, who just dumped Mazda? Hyundai, who doesn’t need the help?  FIAT, who has it’s hands full?  Tata?  Any of China’s mercenary capitalists?  Honda, who is probably too small?
      I’d be hard-pressed to think of someone better than Toyota: they’re not really cross-shopped with Subaru, aside from the kei cars and  RAV vs. Forester/Outback, they have piles of cash, and they’re a flexible manufacturer.

    • 0 avatar

      Actually I agree with you on all those points. My objection is really to Subaru following Toyota’s lead on their core products. By all means, take the money and collaborate on mounting points and under the hood hardware, even share a cheap rebadge or two, but lets be honest and admit that Toyota engineers (as judged by their current products) are no great authority when it comes to finishing or conceptualizing automobiles. Leave them entirely out of it when it comes time to discuss interior, suspension tuning and long term product planning.
      On the other hand the new Sienna is really nice, the rwd chassis is a good sign and Toyota’s leadership is making good noises about improving subjective quality. Subaru could fit an improved Toyota like a beautiful awd glove, but that’s not what I’m seeing so far at all.

  • avatar

    Isn’t much (if any) money to be made in this segment, so it will be beneficial for Subaru in the long run to let Toyota develop these kinds of cars so they can concentrate on their Impreza and Legacy sized vehicles.
    I know it’s cool to hate on Toyota on the internet and everything, but historically Toyota has produced good cars in this segment, so I don’t see how a rebadge in a market outside of the US has any bearing on how the Subaru brand is perceived in the US.
    It’s hilarious to see how people are remarking that Subaru is dieing a slow death, even though the opposite is true and that they’re making all sorts of sales records.

  • avatar

    Surely the smaller ones will be re-badged Daihatsus rather than Toyotas. Toyota doesn’t make any kei cars itself.

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