For some reason, much of the Western media has been feverishly following the Subaru Exiga as if it were the second coming of Elvis or something. Well, their prayers have been answered, because the new Fuji Heavy offering went on sale June 17.
On the face of it, there's really nothing spectacular about this wagon. It comes with a 2.0L four, producing either 109kW and 191N-m in naturally aspirated guise or 165kW and 326N-m turbocharged. The lesser motor is mated to a four-speed slushbox and your choice of front or all wheel drive. The spooler comes with AWD only and one extra gear but, alas, still a torque converter.
Now don't get me wrong, I love wagons. Aside from pillarless hardtop, it's the best body style conceived by man. But still, what's with the Exiga ecstasy? Sure, it seats seven, but so do cars already in the Japanland market like the Toyota Mark X Zio (aka Venza) which went on sale last year. The panoramic roof is nice, but wagons like the Honda Airwave have sported that feature for years. Give me a manual tranny Legacy (aka Liberty) wagon - which incidentally, is no longer offered in America - any day.
The answer, most likely, has to do with Subaru's marketing bombardment in the days leading up to the debut. It's a prime example of the perfectly executed JDM product launch. Marketing is king in Japan, so let's use the Exiga as an excuse to delve into the art of psychological manipulation.
The Exiga concept has been floating around in the heads of Subaru engineers since 1996 but it wasn't until the 2007 Tokyo Motor Show that the one you see here was finalized. Then, months before this week's launch, Subaru began spacing out a series of teaser shots to whet the appetite of automotive journalists everywhere.
When the day finally came, it wasn't just good enough to say, "Here's the car we've been dangling in front of you. Look at it." Typical of Japanese automakers, Subaru offers a dizzying array of aftermarket parts so you can customize your brand new ride right off the bat. Billed as the "Exiga Dress-Up Campaign," these accouterments are always made available immediately, developed in conjunction with the car itself. Aero kits, lowering springs, snazzier wheels are all par for the course. No need to swing by Super Autobacs after leaving the Subaru dealer.
Then there's the obligatory cute tie-in. In this case, the Subaru Exiga Debut Fair will be held at dealerships throughout the land this weekend. Specially made plush Exigas and a chance to win a trip to Tokyo Disneyland await.
And if that's not enough, members of Subaru's web-based owners' community are encouraged to go in for a test drive, lured by promises of more exclusive limited edition stickers and diecast cars. Sufficiently bribed, these members are then encouraged to post their impressions on the forum.
You can also bet that Subaru's official magazine, Cartopia, will publish a special edition all about cross country touring with the Exiga and that the car will be on display in Subaru's lobby showroom at its headquarters building in Shinjuku. And let's not even start with the incessant TV commercials.
So there you have it, a multi-pronged product onslaught. While definitely tilted towards the extreme end of the spectrum, launches like this are not at all uncommon. It's not enough to just buy the car. Subaru wants to suck you into an entire ownership experience. You know what? It kinda makes me wanna go out and buy one now.