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Motor Image to bring Subaru upscale

POSTED BY admin ON 04 April 2012

Tan Chong International Limited’s executive director, Glenn Tan says that Subaru’s new BRZ rear-wheel drive coupe will be introduced in Malaysia in the fourth quarter of this year.

Though the BRZ was originally intended as ‘an affordable sports car’ and a car to cater to the aftermarket modding community, by its makers, Motor Image the authorised distributor of Subaru cars only intends to sell in one specification and that is the highest trim (S in Japan), with all the bells and whistles.

As such the BRZ will come tarted up with leather and Alcantara upholstery, dual-zone climate control, 6-speaker audio system, and keyless ignition.

Aside from offering the top variant, Tan goes on to explain that manual transmissions for the BRZ would be an option that would cost extra, and the car would be priced in the ‘above RM250,000’ range.

“We hope to launch the BRZ in Malaysia before we introduce the locally assembled XV crossover, which is scheduled to be launched in December,” said Tan at the Subaru BRZ media event in Singapore. “We want to do that to build up the hype in the brand before launching the XV.”

Tan says that the BRZ only serves as the brand halo model and doesn’t intend to sell that many units among the countries they are present, yet he believes that demand for the car would outstrip supply.

True enough even with Subaru’s modest target of 450 units per month in Japan, the Japanese carmaker has received 3,600 orders for the domestic market since the car’s introduction in March 28.

The main reason behind bringing the BRZ in with full specifications and automatic as standard is simply because Tan is adamant on bringing the brand up in the region and position Subaru as a maker of premium Japanese cars, and away from the racer boy image of yesteryears.

While the BRZ is supposedly designed to appeal to the modding community, Tan has no intention of bringing in any aftermarket parts for BRZ owners, or market the car towards that spectrum of car buyers.

According to Motor Image, while their performance oriented models are popular with the younger audience, they admit that a string of accidents caused by their young owners has soiled Subaru name, especially among insurance companies (Singaporean car insurance policies are risk-based).

Almost sounding counter-culture, Tan believes that if the Subaru brand is to be taken seriously, especially in the Singaporean market, the boy racer image has to go, and the XV crossover is among Subaru’s new raft of models to bring the name into the premium market.

“We are focusing more effort on the local assembly of the XV, which is current on schedule for its targeted roll out date in December,” said Tan. “Currently work is being done to prepare the space for the production line while the equipment necessary to assemble the XV is enroute.”

Tan says that trials for the XV’s production at the Segambut plant will commence in July.

Besides the XV’s production, Motor Image has big plans ahead to revamp the brand’s presence in Malaysia.

“We plan to upgrade our existing branches in the Klang Valley and Penang, with a new branch opening in Johor soon, while our new vehicle distribution centre in Kota Kemuning will be ready soon,” said Tan.

“We will be commencing the demolition of our old building Petaling Jaya in a few months time to make way for a new 3S (sales, service and spare parts) flagship, which would be ready sometime next year.”

Motor Image also has plans in the pipeline to introduce an after-sales package for owners of grey-imported cars, very similar to the “Grey Market Welcome Package” offered by Sime Darby Auto Performance for grey imported Porsches.

Glenn Tan’s comments echoes the scoop story we brought to you earlier, that the both the Subaru BRZ and Toyota GT-86 will be far from affordable when it arrives here, and AP allocation will be a challenge.

Motor Image might be previewing the BRZ in June in conjunction with Round 3 of 2012 SuperGT endurance race series at the Sepang International Circuit (SIC) , as Subaru would be campaigning the BRZ in the GT300 category this year.

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