The Subaru Rex made its debut as a rear-engined Kei vehicle with rear-wheel drive in 1972. A second version of the Subaru Rex, with a front-mounted motor and FWD, was introduced in 1981. Before ending production in 1992, the Japanese carmaker converted the little car to the Mk3 model in 1985 with supercharged engines. The Rex is returning for 2023, but this time it’s not a Subaru specifically since we’re looking at a rebadged Daihatsu Rocky.
The subcompact crossover is considerably larger than the three Subaru Kei vehicles that came before it and are also marketed as the Toyota Raize and Perodua Ativa. The third-generation Rex measures 3995 millimeters (157.3 inches) in length, 1695 millimeters (66.7 inches) in width, and 1620 millimeters (63.8 inches) in height. Its wheelbase is 2525 millimeters (99.4 in). Although an all-wheel drive system is available for the Rocky, the Subaru model only has front-wheel drive.
A strong 1.2-liter gasoline engine with naturally aspirated combustion that produces 87 horsepower (64 kW) and 113 Nm (83 lb-ft) of torque powers the vehicle. The front axle receives power from the three-pot engine through a continuously variable gearbox. It’s important to note that Daihatsu also offers the Rocky with a more powerful 1.0-liter turbocharged engine, which produces 98 horsepower (72 kW) and 140 Nm (100 lb-ft), but this engine isn’t offered for the Subaru Rex.
The Rex is a light automobile considering that it weighs less than 1,000 kilos, despite the engine appearing to be underpowered (2,200 pounds). Subaru is optimistic that the three-cylinder engine can provide “strong and smooth acceleration” while achieving good fuel efficiency. Even for the vehicle that will primarily be a city car, there are different driving modes available.
The new Rex is offered in G and Z grades, with the G grade starting at 1,820,000 yen (about $13,000 at the time of this writing) and the Z grade costing 2,171,100 yen ($15,600). As the goal is to sell only 150 vehicles per month, Subaru doesn’t anticipate it will be a large seller.