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Subaru flexes GT muscles

WE WERE in town recently for 16th edition of the Singapore Motor Show, invited along with other members of the media and content creators by Tan Chong International Limited (TMIL) via Motor Image, the longtime distributor of Subaru in the region.

As mobility shows go, it’s proof of life not just for the host country’s automotive scene but for the brands there as well.

“The automotive industry is currently experiencing a revolution that comes around once in a century. Today, we’re in the dawn of a new era in automotive history for Singapore,” said TMIL Deputy Chairman and Managing Director Glenn Tan in his welcome speech at the opening of the show at Suntec. Mr. Tan, who also sits as president of the Motor Traders Association of Singapore (which stages the motor show), noted that there were 25 auto brands represented at the show, and 22 new cars were to be unveiled — 15 of which were electric vehicles. That’s surely an unprecedented mark.

For Subaru, the auto spectacle was the chance to introduce the GT editions of the Crosstrek, WRX, and WRX Wagon — along with the BRZ STI.

The GT version of the Crosstrek, available for the e-Boxer 2.0i-S EyeSight Hybrid, gets a GT styling kit comprised of front, rear, and side under spoilers, in addition to new 18-inch alloy wheels and a roof spoiler. Inside, GT Edition seats are accentuated by red piping with white stitching and perforations, and the cabin receives two-tone gray leather.

Meanwhile, the WRX Sedan and Wagon were said to be depicted as still in prototype form, but also got styling kits. The sedan’s skirting are meant to “fuse seamlessly with the STI grille (and) hints at the performance-tuned chassis refinements within.”

The GT variants, exclusively made for and sold by the Motor Image Group, were developed by engineering company Giken Co. Ltd (known for automotive styling kits) in partnership with renowned Subaru designer Masahiko “Jack” Kobayashi — himself responsible for conceiving over a dozen Subaru production models, including the WRX STI.

In an interview with Philippine media, Mr. Tan said, “The GT Edition has been the sporty type of car for us. We now put it on the Crosstrek, WRX, and WRX Wagon for a more aggressive look (on these models); for people who really want them sporty. For the Forester, there’s already a GT Edition, but what we will be introducing will be a GT WOW Edition. It’s going to be very rugged and outdoorsy. Stay tuned for that. We’re going to be differentiating the GT Edition a little bit to make the Forester more outdoorsy.”

When asked about GT Edition customers in the country, he remarked, “In the Philippines, it’s quite interesting for us. We’ve seen a wide range of customers. A lot of professionals, managers, executives, are quite interested in our models in the past years… We’re going into a new segment for the WRX Wagon where we’ve never been in traditionally.”

Mr. Tan averred that the GT Edition variants are for “established customers who already know what they want, but sometimes… want something more unusual.” He added, “We hope that the GT Edition variants will be something to give them an option to kind of express a different look for their cars.”

The executive revealed that the Motor Image is looking to launch the trio of GT Editions in the Philippines at the Manila International Auto Show (MIAS), scheduled to happen from April 4 to 7 at two locations: the World Trade Center and SMX Convention Center.

A corollary event at the Singapore Motor Show was the “Subaru x Russ Swift Stunt Show” starring the noted British stunt and precision driver who also regularly wows fans at the MIAS. It seems that Mr. Swift only gets better with each passing year as he deftly pulled off the full repertoire — from near misses at high speed, to donuts, J-turns, parallel parking at speed, and driving on two wheels.

Before our delegation bade farewell to Singapore, we were treated to some exercises at a parking lot near the Singapore Expo. “This year, we showed cars in a more aggressive fashion to the media,” Mr. Tan later said, adding, “This brings back memories of car park rallies in Singapore.”

We tested the pre-collision auto braking function of the Crosstrek, the agility and poise of the Forester when driven aggressively (forward and backward), and the exciting prowess of the WRX (manual) with a professional driver at the wheel.

This was perhaps the appropriate appetizer for an exciting year ahead for Subaru — to be highlighted by the opening of a Motor Image showroom in Alabang next month. “We’re looking at also expanding from Alabang into other areas as well… given that we’ve seen a huge uptick in our sales in the past six months. We’re excited to expand the brand… We understand that service is very important, so we want to make sure that we expand the network so that they have more service points,” stated the executive.

And the icing on the cake is that, yes, the all-new Forester is slated to appear in local showrooms before the end of the year — even more reason for Subie fans to rejoice.

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