Automotive Misstep: Subaru Admits It Came in Too Hot, Removes Power From Slow-selling Model
A vehicle most American enthusiasts would want — or at least claim to want — has undergone an emergency operation. Debuting at the Geneva Motor Show, the revamped Subaru Levorg will no longer thrill buyers in entry-level form.
Counterintuitive? Definitely not, says Subaru. Apparently, the Levorg, which can best be described as a WRX wagon offered in two power flavors, scared buyers away. What else could Subaru do except lower its standard horsepower?
Okay, where do these weak-kneed buyers live, you ask? Well, Japan, Europe, and other overseas markets all get the Levorg, which came on the market in 2014/2015, but the brand’s real concern is Europe.
The model was meant to replace a wagon variant of the Legacy sedan, but its WRX underpinnings promised an increased level of sport — as did its brace of turbocharged flat fours. Base unit was a turbo 1.6-liter engine, good for 170 horsepower and 184 lb-ft of torque in Japan, with a 2.0-liter unit cranking out 300 hp and 295 lb-ft. Sounds like a fun grocery getter.
Alas, the Levorg was too sport-focused, at least in its entry-level guise, Subaru admits. The new Levorg revealed in Geneva ditches the 1.6-liter turbo in favor of a familiar, and fairly tepid, 2.0-liter naturally aspirated four. Power now comes in at a sedate 148 hp and 146 lb-ft, overseen by a watchful Lineartronic CVT. A very Impreza-y persona, to be sure.
But Subaru didn’t stop there. It also dialed back the firmness of the vehicle’s suspension, ensuring a more relaxed road feel for those who just wanted an all-wheel drive wagon, not a WRX with room for the dogs. Wild to mild.
“We made a mis-step with the Levorg and made it too extreme, too sporty. It just wasn’t right for our customers,” said Torbjorn Lillrud, development director for IM Group, the UK Subaru importer, in a conversation with Britain’s Autocar.
“The combination of that turbo engine and the firm suspension has been a real turn-off for customers.”
The public’s distrust of the old Levorg was made clear by sales stats. In Europe in January, Subaru sold just 90 of the potent wagons.
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