By on March 7, 2019

Image: Subaru

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]

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33 Comments on “Automotive Misstep: Subaru Admits It Came in Too Hot, Removes Power From Slow-selling Model...”


  • avatar
    Vulpine

    So why didn’t they offer that thing here? I know a bunch of people who would probably appreciate it–especially in that 300-horse form.

    • 0 avatar
      jh26036

      Appreciate, but would they buy?

      I appreciate a lot of cars that exist as well.

    • 0 avatar
      Syke

      Yeah, they’d buy it . . . . . used. Three years from now.

      Like just about everybody who claims they want a sporting wagon.

      • 0 avatar
        theBrandler

        That’s because they are way too damn expensive, and wages haven’t budged in ages even though the price of everything keeps going up. I mean seriously, something like this, 300hp? It would be nearly $40k I bet you. No one would buy it for that price. $20k? then you could sell them, but couldn’t afford to make them.

        Cars like this won’t come to America until our wages increase to match inflation so the average person can actually afford to buy the average car. Right now only the upper 10% can afford to buy the average car.

  • avatar
    salmonmigration

    I would have cross shopped a WRX wagon against my Tacoma if this was on sale last year.

    Ya lost one sale, Fuji.

    • 0 avatar
      Steve Biro

      Both the customer complaints and Subaru’s response are just more signs that Subaru no longer builds cars for me. I’m on my third and it’s likely to be my last.

      Suggestion: Why doesn’t Subaru at least put that 1.6-liter turbo powerplant in the Crosstrek? A base or Premium Crosstrek with that engine and a manual transmission (and no Eyesight) could be a very good thing. It might even keep me with the brand.

  • avatar
    Raevoxx

    Yet the Levorg is advertised on Subaru’s UK site (at least), as being “The Driver’s AWD tourer”, and the Outback IS available for purchase.

    I understand the Outback is larger, but…

  • avatar
    JMII

    I bet the firmer suspension didn’t help. Nobody claims a vehicle has too much power unless the gas mileage suffers compared to the non-turbo version. The real problem? Its a wagon… and even Europe is in love with CUVs these days.

  • avatar
    scott25

    One of the last of the great Japanese sport wagons, a worthy successor to the Caldina, Legnum, Stagea et al. It would absolutely find some sales here if it was offered as special order only, but it represents OLD Subaru (quirky, enthusiast/fan centric) and doesn’t jive with their new image.

  • avatar
    92golf

    Sounds like another in a long list of cool cars that don’t fit into North American buying habits but I can’t possibly be the first person to notice that this cars name backwards is “grovel”.

  • avatar
    turbo_awd

    Yeah, the only real replacement for my Legacy GT – and now they’ve done what they did to the Legacy – neuter it.. Subaru really isn’t interested in family enthusiasts anymore.. Just boy-racers.. Time to move on..

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    (face-palm)

    You had ONE job, Subaru.

  • avatar
    jacob_coulter

    “The combination of that turbo engine and the firm suspension has been a real turn-off for customers.”

    __________________

    The suspension firmness I can understand, but has anyone ever really said “this upgraded engine is just too much power, can we please dial it back?”

  • avatar
    slavuta

    first, Subaru needs to start making better seats. I feel, most of their seats are for Japanese people

    • 0 avatar
      jacob_coulter

      Amen to that, that’s a big reason why I got rid of mine. A friend of mine had the same complaint and also sold his for the same reason. Different model.

      You just sort of assume a car company can get a seat right, but somehow Subaru didn’t. I’ve never really owned another car in my life where this was an issue.

      • 0 avatar
        jh26036

        I am Asian and own a Subaru. Seat is just right. Shoulder shrug.

        • 0 avatar
          bullnuke

          Though I’m not an Asian, I’m right there with ‘ya, @jh26036. Seats work fine for my wife and I. This must be a lard-a**ed gringo thing. LOL!

          • 0 avatar
            SlowMyke

            I’m not sure this exactly pertains to the seat specifically, but my only seat time in a Subaru was driving a current gen Forester from Detroit to Chicago and back. The center console/stack intruded so much into the foot well that my leg hurt after an hour of driving due to the position i had to be in to accommodate. I’m 6’3″ and 180lbs, so hardly a lard-a**. Even my wife’s Liberty is more comfortable with it’s cramped foot well than that Subaru was. Is this an issue for others as well?

            More anecdotal support-the owner’s husband is a bit taller and more built than I am, and he agrees with me about the ergonomics. Kinda makes me wonder why they bought the thing, given he won’t be able to drive it much.

    • 0 avatar
      PeriSoft

      I’m (now) a pretty slim guy, and I’ve loathed every recent Subaru seat I’ve been in. As a C/D commenter said, it’s like sitting on an ironing board. I don’t even know how they make seats this bad without actively trying.

    • 0 avatar
      Garrett

      Subaru seats are the polar opposite of Volvo seats.

  • avatar
    davidziff

    Too bad Subaru. I would have bought five. Me – wife– son — daughter in law- and granddaughter. Now I’m just staying with what we have.

  • avatar
    stuntmonkey

    Not specifically about this post, but indicative of it: can we cut the comedy and just report the facts up front; we can get to the snark later on in the post. It’s getting tiresome.

  • avatar
    rpn453

    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.

  • avatar
    SPPPP

    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?

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