RWD Subaru, Toyota Sports Cars Officially Confirmed For 2010, 2011

Illustration for article titled RWD Subaru, Toyota Sports Cars Officially Confirmed For 2010, 2011

Yesterday we showed you a concept sketch of an alleged coupe to be made by a Subaru-Toyota partnership. Scratch the "alleged" as we now have official confirmation in the form of an official statement from Toyota CEO Katsuaki "Ken" Watanabe:

"The compact rear-wheel drive sports car is envisioned to offer a new 'fun to drive' experience based on an all-new vehicle platform."

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In addition we're told production will start in 2010, and Subaru's boxer four-cylinder engines will be used. The RWD Subie sports car should be available in late 2010, with the Toyota coming a few months afterwards in early 2011.

No names have been given for the two new vehicles, though the fan-boy forums are abuzz with rumors like "Subaru Impreza Coupe" or "New Toyota Supra." Both valid options and ideas. We guess we'll have to wait a year or so. Although the last drop of information wrung from Ken today was that the two new cars will be made at a new Subaru factory in Gunma, Japan. Although that facility hasn't yet been built. All of this comes on news Toyota confirmed that it's increasing its ownership stake in Subaru's parent company, Fuji Heavy Industries, from 8.7% to 16.5%. What a day, eh? [AutoCar, MotorAuthority, Automotive News]

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DISCUSSION

I find it interesting that Subaru would think of brining out a RWD car. Not that I'm not for it, but it sends a mixed message, marketing-wise.

They've been saying for years that AWD cars are safer than 2WD cars, and they've built their entire brand on it. So what's the message if/when they suddenly switch to providing a car with only RWD? How does marketing handle that?

Specifically, how do they get around the conundrum that Joe Sixpack previously believed AWD was safer, and now they're bringing out a RWD car? Does that mean AWD isn't actually safer, and they've been lying to him? Or are they now producing a car that's less safe, knowing full well it's not as safe as their AWD cars?

If they say RWD handles better, he'll wonder if they've been purposely putting under-performing cars in his hands for years.

Remember, Joe Sixpack isn't a professional race driver, or even interested in cars. He may be confused by this new offering that wildly breaks away from what he knows Subaru to be.

I, however, can't wait.