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RIP Legacy (in NZ, at least)

Illustration for article titled RIP Legacy (in NZ, at least)
Photo: RIP Possum Borne, your steed is joining you in Valhalla.

Subaru NZ have announced they’re removing the Legacy from their lineup here from 2021, killed by the SUV-pocalypse. Apparently it’s now outsold 20:1 by the Outback.

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It’s the end of an era - the Legacy was once an enormously popular car round here. In fact at one stage it was the country’s best selling car. Not best selling *new* car, that was the Corolla for decades, but used JDM imports swamp new car sales here and the Legacy was the undisputed king of the imports in the 90s.

The Legacy’s relationship to NZ also plays a big part in Subaru’s WRC history: Colin MacRae gave them their first ever WRC win here back in 1993, driving a Legacy RS, which combined with the Legacy winning the British Rally Championship in 1991, 92, and 93 and the NZ championship in 91, 93, and 94 convinced them the PR benefits of dominating the rally scene would be worth the cost of going in boots and all. You’d think what happened in NZ wouldn’t matter to Japan, but at that stage Subaru had a market share here twice what they had anywhere else in the world and the attitude at Head Office was “lets figure out what’s working in NZ and do it everywhere”. Possum Bourne eating up the back country special stages in NZ was working, as it drove the Legacy’s growing rep here as the tool of choice to support an outdoor lifestyle (a “sports utility vehicle”, even). McRae convinced them they could replicate that at a global level, and the rest is blue and gold history.

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Sad for me personally, too. My first job out of college was in the Subaru factory - it was economic for them to have one here in the 80s due to high import taxes, even though it only made a few cars a week - so I’ve always had a soft spot for them, and even though I’ve never yet owned one, the Legacy’s my favourite and the one I’d be most likely to wind up with.

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