Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Are Subaru Limited Editions Worth It?

Recently, the Subaru portfolio has been getting a lot of attention in the way of "Special Editions".  From the red-clad Special Edition Crosstrek to the eye-catching Series.Yellow BRZ, these stand-out Subies have limited production numbers and come as they are.  With the BRZ tS and WRX STI Type RA on the way to start off Subaru's latest run of 50th Anniversary Special Edition models, it's a good time to figure out if these Limited Editions are worth their bumped-up asking prices.

Are Limited Editions worth it?  To much surprise, most of the recent changes actually haven't increased the price too dramatically.  The Series.Yellow BRZ has the same equipment as a BRZ Limited with a Performance Package... but the Series.Yellow is actually slightly cheaper to own.  The Series.HyperBlue WRX STI (that I own) has the same equipment as a Base WRX STI with the Nav/Harman Kardon/Push-Button Start and costs a little more to own.  However, that Hyper Blue of mine also came with BBS wheels as opposed to the standard STI wheels that the base would come with so it balances out once again.  From a cost perspective, the Special Edition models offered by Subaru are priced pretty much the same as their standard counterparts.  This is a little surprising as you would expect some kind of additional markup or cost difference making a limited run since smaller batches of production would typically cost more to make.  So, at the end of the day, you're not paying that much more for a little exclusivity!

When it comes to resale value, it's a bit tricky.  Most appraisal websites don't account for or show options or price increases for Subaru's Special Edition cars.  Not only that, but most Subarus produced as a Special Edition don't have any information in their VIN to indicate that.  Making the case that this is a "Limited Run" is more difficult when there's not as much information in the sales world to support that.  Over time, resale value may be slightly stronger than standard models, but we aren't dealing with diehard collectors items like a Ford GT or a Ferrari Enzo.  Still, Subarus typically enjoy stronger resale value than most other makes and models, so even if a Sunrise Yellow Crosstrek doesn't bring much more value than a normal Crosstrek would, it's still putting more of that money back in your pocket when the time comes to part ways.

Subaru is sending two more Limited Edition models to the US.  The 2018 BRZ tS and the 2018 WRX STI Type RA will both be limited to 500 units each and, aside from that exclusivity, will also be equipped with more performance enhancements than the standard models can supply.  This puts these two cars into another category beyond special paint or a fancy badge.  The BRZ tS will have improved handling components, stickier tires, and a large rear wing providing additional grip at the track.  The WRX STI Type RA will have a slightly stronger engine, improved suspension, and a lightweight Carbon Fiber Roof making this "Record Attempt" version quicker than ever.  These vehicles will not only carry their exclusivity along with them but also representing stronger performing versions of the standard cars.  One could argue that you could modify a BRZ or a WRX STI to perform like these two for less (although we don't have pricing information on either of these yet) but vehicles modified beyond their original OEM specs generally don't have strong resale value.  As long as the higher price is relative to the performance increases expected from both of these vehicles, there will be a solid case for owning one of these.

For me, owning a Limited Edition Subaru has been fun so far.  Right off the showroom floor, I had something that was already unique around town.  While the performance was identical to nearly any other WRX STI, it felt special from the start and it hasn't faded yet.  It also helps that I've grown to love this color even more and have watched David Higgins and Craig Drew win time and time again with this color at national events.  Most Special Editions are at least unique enough to stand out and catch some attention.  I've thoroughly enjoyed owning mine as I support my favorite rally team and enjoy the daily overdose of Hyper Blue.

It's probably not a wise idea to purchase a Special Edition under the guise of "oh it'll be worth big bucks someday!" but at least you're not getting murdered on upcharge to own one of these unique cars.  They'll be something special to mention to a fellow Subaru fan, something easier to pick out in a parking lot full of look-alikes, something still fun to own.  And that's worth it to me.

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