Subaru North America CEO Tom Doll says performance models won't go CVT-only like Forester.
Subaru isn't going all-in on autonomy quite yet, but that doesn't mean the small Japanese automaker isn't readying itself for more advanced driver assistance aids in the future. Unfortunately, that has introduced an issue for enthusiasts who crave rowing their own gears. Subaru's EyeSight system is only compatible with the company's continuously variable transmission. So what of the manuals in Subaru's performance offerings? Subaru's North American boss says we shouldn't worry—the manual is here to stay, at least for now.
At the 2018 North American International Auto Show, Australia's Drive spoke with Subaru North America CEO Tom Doll, who stated the new 2019 Forester won't be getting a manual, but we shouldn't read into that for guidance on its performance offerings. “No, we’ll still have manual transmissions in our performance line like for the WRX, but just not in the Forester.” Justifying a manual transmission is tough for a small automaker like Subaru, especially when take rates on the transmission for less sporting models are so low. Outside of enthusiasts, nobody really wants a cheap-and-cheerful manual car anymore.
“We are only selling three to five per cent of the total volume as manual transmissions and with the fuel economy you get with the CVTs and the way they are leaned out it really makes the manual transmission car look not as efficient or greenhouse gas efficient,” Doll told Drive. The CVT's proliferation could also mark the end for the only six-speed automatic in Subaru's fleet, currently in the BRZ. The future of the model is unclear, but a recent rumor stated the Toyobaru twins could get a larger 2.4-liter boxer engine—without turbos, of course. The next-generation Subaru WRX and WRX STI are expected to arrive sometime next year.