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Old 10-13-2003, 07:19 PM   #1
SUBE555
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Default The Subaru Upscale Thread

Finally, the million dollar, long overdue thread!

Someone get us started on how far we should go and I'll chime back in later.
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Old 10-13-2003, 07:27 PM   #2
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It's impossible to get up to BMW/Audi/Mercedes status for a long, long time. Subaru has the most in common with Saab and Volvo and Infiniti. Design and engine similarities to Saab and Volvo. Performance edge like Infiniti. What will be lacking is dealerships. They suck. You can't have a premium line and not invest in the physical structure of the dealership. You don't see Lexus selling from a used car lot.
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Old 10-13-2003, 07:40 PM   #3
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Default Volvo S80 and Acura RL

There is much interest in the new Subaru SUV, which will be Subaru's first major move upmarket, the most interesting element of this new vehicle is it's large car based platform.

I would love to see Subaru go after the Volvo S80 and Acura RL. These two cars are amongst best value premium Japanese and European Luxury cars, Now that the new Nissan Maxima is all grown up, it too must be consider as a competitor to a new larger Subaru car.

I would much rather see Subaru bring a new larger more premium car to market that to continue to move the Impreza and Legacy's based vehicles up market.

Last edited by Alpha1; 10-13-2003 at 07:50 PM.
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Old 10-13-2003, 08:09 PM   #4
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I have no problem with "upscale" if it means Subau will start ditching the boxey sedan look a little bit.

As for price, I don't consider $35,000 for a 7 passenger vehicle "Too pricey" especially considering it is one of the rare ones with AWD. Considering the alternatives, you could buy a minivan with AWD (Toyota Sienna), a Volvo SUV (yeeeash!), or some crappy American gas guzzler (I think only one has AWD) but if you want a 7 passenger AWD machine that has a car-like ride, this is pretty unique and worth the price. I've already asked my dealer to put me on the list when it becomes available for pre-order. Just my two cents on that car...

Another fine move in my book would be for Subaru to bring the B11S to the market. That car has a twin turbo 6 cylinder engine and it looks absolutely beautiful (yeah, the front takes some getting used too). Based on its size, the vehicle is probably pretty light, and with 400HP, it could probably knock the WRX STI off its throne as the fastest Subarus without even blinking. You have beauty, power, and AWD. How can you NOT want such a car?!! I want one, but I need more passenger carrying ability, so the 7-seater has me sold!!

Upscale is awesome if it bring better styling, but they (Subaru) should not completely abandon the market they have now and perhaps offer a lower end vehicle that sells for around $16,000 so they cover a wider customer price range.
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Old 10-13-2003, 08:16 PM   #5
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Here's a list of "competitors" for the different models. The Impreza I think is the weakest competition to the others since it doesn't even offer luxury options. Any Audi, BMW, or Merc comparisons aren't going to measure up, but that's where the Infiniti-like value kicks in.

Impreza = S40/V50, 9-2, 1 series, A3/Golf/Jetta, RSX
Legacy = S60/V70, 9-3, G35, 3 series, A4, TL or TSX?
Surveyor? = XC90, FX35ish, X5 3.0, Touaraeg, MDX
B11S/Surveyor based sedan = S80, 9-5, M45, 5 series, A6, TL or RL?
B11S = R35? (AWD 400hp 2+2), 645Ci
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Old 10-13-2003, 09:22 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally posted by HB_Dad
Another fine move in my book would be for Subaru to bring the B11S to the market. That car has a twin turbo 6 cylinder engine and it looks absolutely beautiful.
I knew I wasn't crazy (nor alone)...

Bob
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Old 10-13-2003, 09:54 PM   #7
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I have to agree with the comment about the dealerships. They can't be serious about competing with BMW or Audi when you trip over Kias and Suzukis on the way to the Subarus. At least that's how they're sold in my area...

Clearly Subaru is trying to move upmarket, but every interview I've read from the executives has some quote addressing that they're a niche player and intend to continue in that direction. So, I'm not sure they want to take on BMW and Volvo, etc. as much as they are simply expanding the lines to appeal to that level of a buyer.

Take the B11S. Please!! hehe On their own, the numbers describe something Porsche would build. Sure, the styling is take-it or leave-it... I'll take it and run to the bank for the loan as soon as they decide to make the thing. This falls right into line with the whole niche idea. If you want the prestige/look-at-me factor of a BMW or Audi, buy one. Otherwise, for the same money (assuming 35-40k for the B11S) you get near supercar performance from the Scooby, albeit in exchange for the giggling and pointing as you come out of the Taco Bell drive-thru in your jet car. The inside joke will be what happens when you mash it and drop the jaw of the guy driving that S4 that was next to you.
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Old 10-13-2003, 10:14 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally posted by PPower
Here's a list of "competitors" for the different models. The Impreza I think is the weakest competition to the others since it doesn't even offer luxury options. Any Audi, BMW, or Merc comparisons aren't going to measure up, but that's where the Infiniti-like value kicks in.

Impreza = S40/V50, 9-2, 1 series, A3/Golf/Jetta, RSX
Legacy = S60/V70, 9-3, G35, 3 series, A4, TL or TSX?
Surveyor? = XC90, FX35ish, X5 3.0, Touaraeg, MDX
B11S/Surveyor based sedan = S80, 9-5, M45, 5 series, A6, TL or RL?
B11S = R35? (AWD 400hp 2+2), 645Ci
The guy in charge of Subaru Australia disagrees. From http://www.autoweb.com.au/id_SUB/doc...wsarticle.html:
Quote:
Nick Senior, General Manager, Subaru Australia, said: "New Liberty represents a huge leap in every respect.

"In key areas including engineering, safety and specification, Liberty is a leader and additions to the range, including the GT wagon, will help attract many newcomers to Subaru.

"We are confident that within the range there are Liberty models that compete directly with the likes of BMW 3 series, Mercedes-Benz C Class, Jaguar X-Type and Audi A4.

"Equally, there are Liberty variants that offer a tremendous package compared to Mazda6, Honda Accord and Holden Vectra.

"Some of those competitors are considerably more expensive and we look forward to customer reaction when they research the price versus specification equation.

"Liberty models across the range represent remarkable value for money and will prove irresistible to many existing and new customers."
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Old 10-14-2003, 12:24 AM   #9
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Default Re: <big grin>

Quote:
Originally posted by rsholland


I knew I wasn't crazy (nor alone)...

Bob
Insane asylums house way more than one person...and bad taste can be rampant--people ARE buying Azteks, I see them plated on the road....not just stolen by hooligans who wish to burn them after joyriding, or dealerships trying to push them.

*Actual* people are paying *actual* money for these things, so there's no accounting for taste, or what people will buy...

Last edited by Ghostrider600; 10-14-2003 at 12:30 AM.
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Old 10-14-2003, 12:28 AM   #10
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Quote:
"Some of those competitors are considerably more expensive and we look forward to customer reaction when they research the price versus specification equation.
Yes, but they can undercut the others by only a thousand or two at most and still claim a victory.

Which would still allow for a significant price increase over current Legacy price points.

2004 Jaguar X-Type Styles
MSRP Price Range: $30,660 - $34,660

2004 BMW 3 Series Styles
MSRP Price Range: $28,495 - $44,295

2004 Mercedes-Benz C-Class Styles
MSRP Price Range: $26,020 - $40,330


(edmunds.com)
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Old 10-14-2003, 12:39 AM   #11
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They'd claim a victory and we'd be scuttling for used S4's or new WRX's. Not everyone is willing to pay $30k for a GT Legacy when it can be 26-27k base for the turbo model.

(Does anyone notice there is a LOT of focus on here on the Legacy?)
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Old 10-14-2003, 12:47 AM   #12
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I'm all for Subaru moving upscale, as long as it is done within reason. Subaru does have it works cut out, though. As was mentioned, the dealership experience is not anywhere near what it is for other premium brands. Subaru really needs to work on their interiors as well. This seems to be the case with the new Legacy but I'll have to reserve final judgement until I actually get to check one out in person.

I'd actually be willing to pay a premium for a Subaru as long as it delivers the goods. Has anyone noticed that the reliability ratings on many premium european cars are actually quite bad? Audi and Volvo, in particular, I've noticed. Lower ongoing ownership costs would certainly be a bit of an enticement.

I just hope that Subaru can pull this off and still offer cars for the more budget-conscious among us. I hope that they can successfully expand their range of car offerings. Seems like they are really hanging out there; and this is not a car company really known for being all that risky.

Jay
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Old 10-14-2003, 03:53 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally posted by Jon [in CT]
The guy in charge of Subaru Australia disagrees. From http://www.autoweb.com.au/id_SUB/doc...wsarticle.html:
Well, I didn't write out Merc and Jag in my list as I should have. I forgot about the Jag actually. To the contrary, he said the same thing. They will be able to be direct competitors, especially looking at specifications. However, his comment at the bottom about looking at "price versus specification equation" will make up for shortcomings just as I mentioned. It has already been stated from people who have checked out the new Legacy that the interior while better is still not up to BMW/Audi.

For those not learned in marketing, there is something called the 3 P's. Product, Price, and Promotion. You need all things.
Product- could probably use a big more quality, but the product is basically there. The Impreza needs some luxury features at least offered like leather, and not for $1500.
Price- I argue that the price is right by being a good value compared to others. Only the Impreza needs to be brought down in price or improve the product.
Promotion- I know I'm about alone on part of this, but this is the worst area. Dealerships- building, location, and impression from employees- is a huge aspect of marketing that is often overlooked. I see Kia dealerships that look better than Subaru probably due to the fact that at least the Kia's building was built post-Brat. Take the used car lot fluorescent letter stickers out of the windows for advertising! Anybody know when that Melbourne-type mega-dealership is going to be built in the mid-west? Now I'll step on toes with the Lance ads. It works great for them to attract more granola outdoors people, but it does zero for an upscale image. Chrysler used Celine Dion, but that worked better for a premium move. Personally, I can't stand her, but she has more of that image, and the ads were done with an elegant and premium feel. Chrysler has realized that while their ads worked well to start bringing up the name of Chrysler, their lack of direct attention to the Pacifica hurt this years sales as it didn't make enough people aware of the Pacifica. You have to know a product exists before you can have it as a choice you consider. This gets into a lineup of promotional strategy that I'll hold off on.

VW is much better poised to move upscale when looking at the 3 P's. However, their demise is bumping a ceiling called Audi which Subaru doesn't have to worry about. Both VW and Subaru have been pricey compared to other cars, so it makes sense for them to be a low priced value oriented premium instead of a high end economy car line. It's like the old question I used to hear: Would you rather be on the lower end of a high class area or the high end of a low-middle class area? You are bettered by having better peers, and the only need to be the high end is for compensation factor.
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Old 10-14-2003, 09:58 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally posted by balyndraks
Has anyone noticed that the reliability ratings on many premium european cars are actually quite bad? Audi and Volvo, in particular, I've noticed. Lower ongoing ownership costs would certainly be a bit of an enticement.
Jay
I think the difference is that Audi treats its customers VERY well if/when you do have a problem, whereas Subaru has typically fought warranty claims etc. and made getting things fixed an ordeal.

I think that's part of what people think they're getting when they buy premium brands--not only a nice car and a modern dealership, but they buy into service and support that other "lesser" brands don't put as much effort into; and that's what keeps the customers coming back to Audi etc.
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Old 10-14-2003, 10:19 AM   #15
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Default Re: Re: <big grin>

Quote:
Originally posted by Ghostrider600


Insane asylums house way more than one person...and bad taste can be rampant--people ARE buying Azteks, I see them plated on the road....not just stolen by hooligans who wish to burn them after joyriding, or dealerships trying to push them.

*Actual* people are paying *actual* money for these things, so there's no accounting for taste, or what people will buy...
I feel like I'm being humped by my dog.

Everytime I play with her outdoors, she gets so excited that she has to play the "alpha dog" role, not unlike what I'm experiencing here...

Bob, aka Rodney Dangerfield, who also gets no respect.

Last edited by rsholland; 10-14-2003 at 10:31 AM.
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Old 10-14-2003, 10:24 AM   #16
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i'm sure all car companies aspire to have the same prestige as the germans and lexus.

subaru has created its own niche market, affordable awd vehicles. Audis, Volvos, Bimmers, and Benz's with awd are priced out of reach for a lot of people. Not to mention some of those cars are getting severely overwieght. (audis in particular).

so personally i think subaru is ok where they stand, offering reliable awd vehicles at affordable prices.

but im not against cleaner designs and better materials.
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Old 10-14-2003, 11:05 AM   #17
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Default Re: Re: Re: <big grin>

Quote:
Originally posted by rsholland


I feel like I'm being humped by my dog.

Everytime I play with her outdoors, she gets so excited that she has to play the "alpha dog" role, not unlike what I'm experiencing here...

Bob, aka Rodney Dangerfield, who also gets no respect.
Please don't try to clone yourself, Bob.
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Old 10-14-2003, 11:25 AM   #18
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Quote:
Originally posted by Achilles38WRX
i'm sure all car companies aspire to have the same prestige as the germans and lexus.

subaru has created its own niche market, affordable awd vehicles. Audis, Volvos, Bimmers, and Benz's with awd are priced out of reach for a lot of people. Not to mention some of those cars are getting severely overwieght. (audis in particular).

so personally i think subaru is ok where they stand, offering reliable awd vehicles at affordable prices.

but im not against cleaner designs and better materials.
I couldn't agree more.

I know several people on here are fine with a $35,000+ SUV/7-Pax, and considering many of the Subaru buyers are well educated and decently well off, it may fit with many, but starting cost in that range may not be considered affordable by many. STARTING in the upper 20's is reasonable in my book for something of that size.

Having better materials and some better features should in no way push a mid 20's car such as the Legacy GT to 30k. Using better materials and hardware doesn't mean you are paying twice, it should be just an upgrade, a difference in cost.

Upscale doesn't have to be uppriced. As much as some want to see Subaru move into the bracket of Audi/BMW and don't care if the pricing moves nealrly that high, FHI would be alienating a significant number of their normal buyers by outpricing that segment. The 20-26k is probably the lastest price range for SOA.

Remember the old saying, the rich keep getting richer and the poor keep getting poorer. Just food for thought.
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Old 10-14-2003, 12:13 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally posted by Achilles38WRX

so personally i think subaru is ok where they stand, offering reliable awd vehicles at affordable prices.
I understand what you're saying, but "affordable prices" is a bit relative. God forbid Subaru have a model that a 25 year old college grad can't afford. If that were the case, there is no model to grow in to as your income increases. A 3 series owner can always look "up" towards maybe buying a 5 series later on and so forth to the 7 series. It's not to say that all will want to keep moving up, but the options are there. Saturn has tried building bigger cars with the L cars because their buyers had no other cars to move into, so they left for other brands.
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Old 10-14-2003, 01:11 PM   #20
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Well considering a study noted over 50% of students went back home after they graduated this last spring, your numbers may be flawed.

It would still be nice if they didn't throw every option into all the models that have the performance goodies, at least for the enthusiasts sake. SoNE took them to court for model packing and charging for it. They lost, but it says someone, actually a lot of people know what they are doing (I think all the dealerships SoNE deals with were in on it.)

This would just mean they could have a fully decked out Legacy 3.0R or 2.5GT for $30-32k but a bare bones model with manual adjustment cloth seats and such in a 2.5GT (like it used to be) for $25.5-26.5k and they would still be doing well and serving a wider audience. I don't want leather necessarily and don't want to be forced into purchasing it either. If it is a HUGE step beyond the previous leather, as in more Audi-like and grippy, I may consider it if it doesn't significantly jump in price, but model packing and forcing customers into certain options downright sucks and is sort of unnecessary. At least give dealerships the leway to order them as they want to, this helps the customer too.

Now I'm not saying a very well equipped $31k Legacy 3.0R or 2.5GT is not a bad thing, just authoritatively saying this is all you are getting, take it or leave it (sort of the attitude with current GT) is rather pushy and unnecessary. Give us something reasonable too if they really want to push up.

I don't mind paying for good materials, but it is not like paying for your BBS wheels and paying for your stock ones and you don't get to keep the stockers on a WRX. A+B=total doesn't cut it anymore, never did, it was just put up with. B(better)-A(average)=total. That adds up. Lets just hope they don't take advantage of the previous and be all american, I mean greedy, and go for every penny they can get at our expense.

As noted by Ghost, half of it is the service. Reliability and service must really come first to move up. Is Saturn premium? No, is their service? I haven't been to a Saturn dealership ever but it's always noted they are supposed to treat the customer like they are premium. My dealership does a good job of this, but unfortunately, a LOT don't. That is just one of many things that can be upgraded in my book.
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Old 10-14-2003, 01:25 PM   #21
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Quote:
Originally posted by Ghostrider600
I think the difference is that Audi treats its customers VERY well if/when you do have a problem, whereas Subaru has typically fought warranty claims etc. and made getting things fixed an ordeal.
Ironically, I know Audi owners who would be more than happy to argue that - and our Subaru dealer has been pretty good to deal with (a whole lot better than any VW dealer I've dealt with.)

Still, considering I was getting Infiniti I35 loaners during my G20-owning days and my wife gets an Impreza with 175k on the clock when her OBS goes in - Subaru will have a way to go before service (and even dealership facilities) are "upscale."

Tom
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Old 10-14-2003, 03:17 PM   #22
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I'm in the same boat with the dealership people. The sales and service experience is better at other dealerships. I think the model in the industry is currently Lexus.

Of course the problem may be more acute up here in SNE land.

I think a lot of people would be willing to say that Subaru cars are put together well. The leap from a cheap car to a more expensive car then becomes materials. I don't think that's a big deal and I can see Subaru increasing quality of materials quickly.

The dealership issue will be much more difficult (and costly IMO) to address.
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Old 10-14-2003, 03:26 PM   #23
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From my visits to dealers in and around Denver, Dallas, Phoenix, Flagstaff, Albuquerque, and Oklahoma City, I can tell you that the experience varies dramatically. I know that there are great dealers out there, (Flatirons in Boulder, for example, and Huffines in Lewisville, TX last time I was there at least), but there are some very bad ones, too. No consistency. I think the buyers of $35-40k automobiles would like to see at least some similarity between dealers should they end up needing help when away from home. It's not that other upscale brands don't have dealers that are puds, it's that, from what I can tell as a customer and not an insider, no one from SoA really cares about the dealers that sell their wares. It's like anyone can do it, and not necessarily represent the brand well. Like I say, I know there are jergoff Infinity dealers out there, but you don't drive up to two different Infinity dealers and expect to see Infinitys at one and Yugos at the other, which is the case with Subaru right now.

As for pushing their cars upscale a bit more, I think they can without forgetting anyone. Keep an Impreza under $20k and go up from there. Add to the high end. Offer more trim levels and options. Having three versions of the Impreza that are very different from one another in terms of performance is great; do the same with the Legacy, with another couple of trim levels in there to hit more target markets. As long as they don't expect to sell as many of the highest end models as they do the more moderately priced versions, I'd think they could slide their way into being a manufacturer of more than quirky niche cars. Let's face it, that could become a problem as time goes on, especially if AWD becomes more prevalent.

Just my $.02
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Old 10-14-2003, 11:26 PM   #24
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I can speak first hand about Audi dealership experiences. I've had service at several Audi dealers, and although the buildings are more modern than the Subaru dealers, and the waiting rooms are far more plush, etc, the actual service itself is really no better. There have been times that I preferred the Subaru service experience.
But, for Subaru to attract the upscale folks, or the young wannabe upscale folks, Subaru needs to require their dealership network to clean up their appearances.

Having worked at car dealership in the past, and having seen hundreds (probably thousands) of potential customers come in to the dealership to kick the tires, etc, there is one thing that everybody seems to do when they go car shopping, and that is getting into cars to see how they feel. How it feels sitting in the car. How it feels holding the steering wheel. How it feels after they adjust the driver's seat and the steering wheel, as they look through the windshield and imagine themselves driving the car.
Something as simple as putting leather on the steering wheel makes a HUGE difference in the feel of the entire car.

If the potential buyers don't like the cars, they will almost immediately get out of the car. If they like the car, they sit in the car for a while, and they fuss with things in there, while they imagine (either consciously or unsconciously) themselves driving and owning the car.

The Subaru's of present and past, without leather covered steering wheels, are missing the boat. Maybe some people like the wood wheels; thats OK; but the all-plastic/rubber steering wheels are unacceptable.
Get rid of the fake wood on the dash and armrest areas! Either get real wood, or use something else, like more black plastic or aluminum accents (see Audi). But don't overuse the aluminum look (as in Infiniti G35).

Those characteristics that make a car instantly so lovable may not be so easily defined. But like the Supreme Court has said about obscenity: "We know it when we see it."

Subaru needs to take a very close look at what it is, in terms of feel, and comfort items, and amenities, that the upscale brands have, and Subaru needs to emulate some of that.
Message for Subaru designers: Go to an Audi dealer and sit in one of their cars with a black interior. You'll then have the picture!

Just a couple things that I've mentioned before:
1) more legroom (more length for longer legs, like all the others have);
2) telescoping steering wheel (like all the others have);
3) dual climate control (see how Volvo does it);
4) memory settings for power seats (if you have power seats and mirrors, then give us memory settings; everybody else has them);
5) better stereos with large smooth knobs (like Lexus has);
6) avoid the oddball styling (SVX windows; Baja; B11S; etc)

Thanks for listening.

Dave G
Subaru and Audi enthusiast
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Old 10-15-2003, 06:32 AM   #25
PPower
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Quote:
Originally posted by Dave G

Just a couple things that I've mentioned before:
1) more legroom (more length for longer legs, like all the others have);
2) telescoping steering wheel (like all the others have);
3) dual climate control (see how Volvo does it);
4) memory settings for power seats (if you have power seats and mirrors, then give us memory settings; everybody else has them);
5) better stereos with large smooth knobs (like Lexus has);
6) avoid the oddball styling (SVX windows; Baja; B11S; etc)

Thanks for listening.

Dave G
Subaru and Audi enthusiast
Good points. As for your final bullet points:
1) Legroom- ditto, especially for rear passengers. The comparison between the Evo & Impreza is just embarrassing. The problem seems to be that the layout of the boxer engine prohibits moving the wheels further to the corners for an extended wheelbase (which can also affect how the car rides).
2)telescoping wheel- yes, though I've never had a problem with it. It's a simple feature though.
3) dual climate control- duh!!! It's an industry standard especially for anything remotely premium
4) memory- for family cars like wagons certainly are, memory is even more useful. If you already have a power driver's seat, it is a very incremental cost to add memory feature at least for husband and wife.
5)stereo- One word-> McIntosh Too bad it's so ugly though. It has been written that it has that 70's metal finish to look like other McIntosh products. Raising the BS flag on that one. Go to their site www.mcintoshlabs.com and find something so ugly. I'd be happy with their standard center control unit that is distinctive, but at least doesn't clash with other interior materials:

Adding a meter control would look very McIntosh though very unnecessary.

6)Styling- Good luck on that one.
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