U.S. Buyers Still Overwhelmingly Choose a Manual for the Subaru BRZ and WRX

The special-edition 2018 Subaru WRX STI Type RA and BRX tS.
Image: Subaru

It shouldn’t be much of a surprise that Subaru still has decent manual sales in a market where carmakers can’t give a third pedal away, given that its buyers are often either outdoorsy dog people or street hoons. But manual take rates in the BRZ and WRX, at least in the U.S., even manage to outshine the Mazda Miata—as well as the BRZ’s Toyota twin, the 86.

We, along with every other car website, have written a lot about take rates for new cars with manual transmissions lately. They’re mostly low, which isn’t a surprise given how quickly even the holdouts are losing their manual options. But no dark sky is without a bright spot, no matter how small.

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Autoblog wrote about one of those bright spots Tuesday—Subaru buyers. Subaru sent Autoblog its 2018 take rates, which were impressive: The company sold 78 percent of BRZs with a manual, and an incredible 90 percent of WRXs sold with a clutch pedal instead of the car’s optional continuously variable transmission.

(Subaru, along with every other automaker mentioned in this story, confirmed to Jalopnik that all of these percentages are for the U.S. market.)

The BRZ’s manual take rate even puts its 86 twin to shame. While their overall sales numbers are as identical as they are—Subaru reported selling 3,834 BRZs last year and Toyota reported selling 4,146 86s, including the adopted Scion FR-SCarBuzz reported recently that only 33 percent of Toyota 86 buyers go for the stick compared to the BRZ’s nearly 80 percent.

The BRZ and WRX rates even beat those of the Miata, which few can fathom in an automatic—over the past year or so, Mazda reported that three out of four soft-top buyers went for a stick, while RF models were split at about halfway.

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But Subaru’s manual take rates plummet outside of the BRZ and WRX, Autoblog wrote, with the next highest being 8 percent on the Impreza. That’s followed by 6 percent on the Crosstrek and 3 percent on the Forester, which no longer has a stick.

Subaru reported annual U.S. sales of 680,135 last year and said 47,000 of those were sticks, putting its overall manual sales at about 7 percent in 2018. And while 7 percent would be a catastrophic failure on any exam, this is the real world—and in the real world, it’s all relative.

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Alanis King

Alanis King is a staff writer at Jalopnik.