The year 2022 marks the 30th Anniversary of Subaru Southern Africa. On 16 June 1992, Subaru Southern Africa officially opened its doors to the South African market with its first ever dealership trading from the heart of the Johannesburg CBD on the corner of Mooi Street and Commissioner Street. It was the first time that the Japanese brand had an official presence and representation in the region.
Wholly owned by Toyota Tsusho Corporation and local subsidiary Toyota Tsusho Africa, Subaru Southern Africa has remained a consistent and healthy part of the automotive landscape in the region. A business that started with just two dealers in 1992 has enjoyed a sustainable and steady growth to thirteen dealerships and four service centres in South Africa and another dealership in neighbouring Botswana.
Subaru SA will mark the entire 2022 calendar year in celebration of this 30-year milestone through a number of initiatives that will honour the legacy of the brand in South Africa through its customers, dealer network and staff, as well as suppliers and valued members of the media.
Some of these initiatives include:
- Customer Gifts: In partnership with Subaru Brand Ambassador Ntsiki Biyela and her award-winning Aslina Wines, all new customers that purchase any Subaru model in 2022 will also receive an exclusive Aslina Wines box set.
- Subaru Badge of Ownership Programme: As a new initiative to our customers, Subaru SA will introduce a new Badge of Ownership loyalty programme that will reward customers for various ownership milestones as part of their ownership journey. These rewards include merchandise, giveaways, adventures and more in addition to a series of collector’s ownership badges.
- Dealer Celebrations: At a dealer level, various celebrations and promotional events are set to take place with customers and potential customers throughout the year.
- New Model Launches: 2022 will see Subaru Southern Africa introduce two new models to consumers. The new MY2022 Subaru Forester was launched earlier in January 2022 with enhanced refinement, design, off-road capability and safety.
The much anticipated, all-new Subaru WRX is set to be introduced into market in June 2022 sporting a new 2.4-litre, direct-injection, turbocharged Boxer engine that develops 202kW and 350Nm of torque.
Andrew Marshall, MD of Subaru Southern Africa says, “Subaru is such a unique automotive brand in South Africa and we have a dedicated base of customers and dealers who have ensured we remain robust and successful for 30 years. We want to spend this year honouring them.”
“It’s also a time in which we want new customers to learn what the Subaru brand and product range is really about. We want to turn those who are unfamiliar with the brand, to being more familiar and knowledgeable about what we stand for.”
30 Years: History & Highlights
The first vehicles on the floor in 1992 were the Subaru Legacy 2.2GX sedans. Featuring a Boxer®, 4-cylinder, 2.2-litre engine and permanent all-wheel drive, the car was a unique offering in the market at the time. It was very soon joined by the Subaru Legacy Outback wagon, a vehicle that boasted driver airbags, a safety feature that was lacking in a number of competitors at the time. It too, boasted a 2.2-litre, 16 valve flat-four motor and arguably was the catalyst to future sales of Subaru wagons in various models including the Impreza Wagon.
The model range expanded to include a range of models that suited families and performance enthusiasts alike all boasting signature Subaru Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive™ and Boxer® engines.
Some of these standout models included:
- The Subaru SVX: Designed by Giorgetto Giugiaro from Italdesign, the SVX was a showstopper of note with aircraft-inspired design, a 3.3-litre Boxer® engine, all-wheel drive and a plethora of luxury features. It landed in South Africa in 1994 and remains a true collector’s piece to this day.
- The Legacy Outback: In 1996, the new Legacy Outback arrived in South Africa with a raised body (200mm ground clearance) and an all-round more rugged appeal. With stellar capability both on-road and off-road it was a true pioneer of what is now the SUV craze. The Legacy Outback eventually became known as the Outback after this generation.
- A phalanx of WRX’s and STI’s: Subaru’s famous Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive™ and Boxer®-engined engineering direction was forged into fame courtesy of the FIA World Rally Championships of the 1990’s and 2000’s as Subaru’s World Rally Team won 3 WRC titles from 1995 – 1997 and 3 driver’s titles in 1995, 2001 and 2003. The fame and success spilled over into showroom floors where the Impreza, WRX and STI names became synonymous with superior performance and control, quickly gaining a reputation for upsetting even the most exotic of performance cars at the time.
In 1994, the first GC-generation Subaru Imprezas arrived in South Africa and just as World Rally fame grew, so too did a few lucky South African customers get their hands on the first and few GC Subaru Impreza’s with the STI badge upon them. The second generation Subaru WRX and STI arrived in 2001 sporting potent power, ventilated discs and fiercely impressive sound and handling. The Impreza was also introduced in a hatchback body style in 2008 before the GD, third-generation arrived from 2009, once again in sedan form. This was followed by the latest VA fourth-generation that landed in SA in 2015.
An all-new fifth-generation STI is expected in early 2023.
- Subaru Forester: The Subaru Forester was introduced in 1997 and immediately was recognised for its safety, all-road and all-weather performance and genuine practicality. Since then, the Forester’s fame has seen it become the most successful Subaru product in South Africa, finding more and more homes as the evergreen SUV.
- Subaru XV Crossover SUV: The Subaru XV was introduced to South Africa in 2012 as the first foray into the compact crossover segment. It has become the second most popular Subaru product in South Africa and has consistently remained a firm contender in its segment, one of only a few crossover vehicles with all-road capability generally only found in larger and more expensive SUV’s.
Subaru Southern Africa Awards, Accolades and Partnerships:
In 30 years, the Subaru brand has garnered acknowledgement and recognition from many organisations for the brand and product quality, safety, capability and customer service. Some of these highlights include:
- 2005 J.D. Power South Africa Customer Satisfaction (Compact SUV) – Subaru Forester
- 2005 J.D. Power South Africa Initial Quality (Compact SUV) – Subaru Forester
- 2006 CAR magazine: Category Winner – Best Compact SUV – Subaru Forester
- 2006 J.D. Power South Africa Customer Satisfaction (Compact SUV) – Subaru Forester
- 2006 J.D. Power South Africa Customer Satisfaction (Upper Small Car) – Subaru Impreza
- 2007 CAR magazine: Category Winner – Best Compact SUV – Subaru Forester
- 2008 J.D. Power South Africa Initial Quality (Compact SUV) – Subaru Forester
- 2014 CAR magazine: Top 12 Best Buys – Tow Car of the Year Winner – Subaru Outback 2.0D Lineartronic
- 2015 SA Car of the Year Finalist – Subaru WRX
- 2020 Cars.co.za Consumer Awards Finalist – Subaru XV
In addition to these local awards, Subaru SA was the one of the first sponsors of a number of initiatives including the gruelling Sani2C race, Midmar Mile as well as the being one of the inaugural partners of the South Africa Sport Hall of Fame.