2023 Subaru Rex Debuts With 1.2-Liter Naturally Aspirated Engine

The Subaru Rex debuted in 1972 as a rear-engined kei car with rear-wheel drive which was followed by the second generation in 1981 which switched to a powertrain and front-mounted FWD. The Japanese automaker transitioned pint-sized vehicles to Mk3 models in 1985 with supercharged engines before pulling the plug in 1992. The Rex is back for 2023, and this time it’s not Subaru. alone because we’re looking at a rebadged Daihatsu Rocky.

Also sold as the Toyota Raize and Perodua Ativa, this subcompact crossover is much larger than the previous three Subaru kei cars. The third-generation Rex measures 3995 millimeters (157.3 inches) long, 1695 mm (66.7 inches) wide and 1620 mm (63.8 inches) high, with a wheelbase of 2525 mm (99.4 inches). Although the Rocky is sold with an optional all-wheel-drive system, the Subaru version is completely front-wheel drive.

Power is provided by a naturally aspirated 1.2-liter petrol engine producing 87 hp (64 kW) and 113 Nm (83 lb-ft) of torque. The three-pot mill sends its muscles to the front axle via a continuously variable transmission. It’s worth mentioning that Daihatsu is also selling the Rocky with a more powerful 1.0-liter turbocharged engine with 98 hp (72 kW) and 140 Nm (100 lb-ft) but it is not available for the Subaru Rex.

While the engine looks weak, the Rex is a light car considering it weighs less than 1,000 kilograms (2,200 pounds). Subaru believes the three-cylinder mill is capable of delivering “strong and smooth acceleration” while delivering excellent fuel economy. There is even a driving mode available for city cars.

Available in G and Z classes, the new Rex starts at 1,820,000 yen (about $13,000 at current exchange rates) and goes up to 2,171,100 yen ($15,600) for the more complete model. Subaru doesn’t project to be a big seller as its target is to move only 150 cars per month.

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