Automotive Misstep: Subaru Admits It Came in Too Hot, Removes Power From Slow-selling Model

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
automotive misstep subaru admits it came in too hot removes power from slow selling

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.

[Image: Subaru]

Join the conversation
2 of 33 comments
  • Rpn453 Rpn453 on Mar 07, 2019

    An overly firm suspension would be a turn-off for me. A laggy turbo engine that uses more fuel than necessary for my purposes and requires premium might also be. But I doubt I'd get that far in my analysis of this particular vehicle. I'd probably dismiss it for looking like some Fast and Furious fan attached a bunch of silly plastic to the front bumper after purchasing it from someone who had installed plastic covers on oversized wheels that would have been merely uncomfortable and impractical if they weren't so ugly.

  • SPPPP SPPPP on Mar 07, 2019

    Hmm, very interesting. So if Subaru sells, perhaps, 80 of these in Europe next January, will they go the other route and drop a STI engine in it?

  • Ollicat I have a Spyder. The belt will last for many years or 60,000-80,000 miles. Not really a worry.
  • Redapple2 Cadillac and racing. Boy those 2 go together dont they? What a joke. Up there with opening a coffee shop in NYC. EvilGM be clowning. Again.
  • Jbltg Rear bench seat does not match the front buckets. What's up?
  • Theflyersfan The two Louisville truck plants are still operating, but not sure for how much longer. I have a couple of friends who work at a manufacturing company in town that makes cooling systems for the trucks built here. And they are on pins and needles wondering if or when they get the call to not go back to work because there are no trucks being made. That's what drives me up the wall with these strikes. The auto workers still get a minimum amount of pay even while striking, but the massive support staff that builds components, staffs temp workers, runs the logistics, etc, ends up with nothing except the bare hope that the state's crippled unemployment system can help them keep afloat. In a city where shipping (UPS central hub and they almost went on strike on August 1) and heavy manufacturing (GE Appliance Park and the Ford plants) keeps tens of thousands of people employed, plus the support companies, any prolonged shutdown is a total disaster for the city as well. UAW members - you're not getting a 38% raise right away. That just doesn't happen. Start a little lower and end this. And then you can fight the good fight against the corner office staff who make millions for being in meetings all day.
  • Dusterdude The "fire them all" is looking a little less unreasonable the longer the union sticks to the totally ridiculous demands ( or maybe the members should fire theit leadership ! )