The redesigned 2015 Subaru WRX STI drove onto Frontier Subaru's lot just over a week ago, setting off a wave of excitement at the dealership.and the staff are excited to have
"The WRX was due for a redesign," said Frontier Subaru sales rep Jeff House. The last full design was about six years ago."
While the Subaru design team kept a lot of the components that made the WRX STI the legendary rally car that it has been, House said the focus with the 2015 edition is more on racetrack capability in an effort to broaden the buyer demographic.
In late February, all Subaru sales reps across Canada were flown to Pitt Meadows, B.C., to be introduced to the new model, he added.
"We drove the new model and one of the previous generation models back-to-back. "There was a noticeable difference. The new model had a better grip and stiffer springs."
Under the hood, the 2015 WRX STI is almost unchanged from its predecessor, with the same 2.5L four-cylinder engine producing 305 hp and 295 lb.-ft. of torque and mated to a performance-oriented 6-speed manual transmission.
But the interior though, House noted, is more refined and matches up well with European luxury models in that department. The seats are more comfortable, and there's more rear legroom, better visibility, folding rear seats and a larger trunk. And new standard features include push-button start, keyless entry and a back-up camera. A new safety feature is knee-level airbags on the driver's side.
Subaru has discontinued the hatchback with the 2015 WRX STI, while adding a third trim level -- Basic, Sport and Sport Tech.
The base price for the model starts at $37,995 (plus freight and pdi), slightly less than last year's model.
"We have already pre-sold a decent number of models," he said. "And we're expecting to have a good stock based on the success of the brand in recent years."
Mazda Peak Performance winners
For the third year in a row, Crown Mazda's Wes Giesbrecht was Manitoba's top-selling Mazda sales rep last year, a feat that won him an invitation to Toronto on March 20 to be recognized along with other top Mazda Canada sales reps as Master Sales reps in the Elite category.
Giesbrecht was joined in Toronto by sales reps from Regina and Saskatoon in representing the prairie region.
"We started with a bit of a business meeting recapping last year and previewing the new models that are coming," Giesbrecht said of the day-long program. "We also heard a presentation from Don Cooper of (sporting good manufacturer) Cooper Canada. In the evening, we enjoyed a gala dinner where all of us sales reps were called up. All of Mazda Canada's executives were there."
Giesbrecht joined Crown Mazda in May, 2006, after retiring from the office-furniture business. In 2007, he joined the Mazda Master Sales Club, became a Mazda Peak Performer in 2009 and is currently a member of the Mazda Elite Club. He's been Mazda Canada's number-one salesperson in the region for the last four years -- he sold 201 cars last year and is on track for another good year in 2014.
Once again, Giesbrecht's closest competitor for sales leader among Manitoba Mazda reps last was Gerry Gordon Mazda's Dave Hallock. This was Hallock's eighth year in a row qualifying as a Mazda Canada Peak Performer.
David Matwychuk, Gerry Gordon Mazda's parts manager, is a first-time Peak Performer. He has been with the dealership since 2009.
Back at Crown Mazda, service technician Reynold Bergen was also in Toronto on March 20, competing to be recognized as Mazda Canada's top technician. Bergen has been working at Crown Mazda for six years. This was the first time that he qualified in the top 10 for the competition.
"There are some training, tests and courses we have to take in trying to qualify," he said. "The 10 technicians with the top scores were invited to Mazda Canada's headquarters in Richmond Hill, Ontario, for the finals. I had the top score for Manitoba and Saskatchewan."
At the competition, each technician was assigned a 2014 Mazda with a repair order of six customer complaints. They were given two hours to diagnose and repair all six problems. If the vehicle was completed within the time limit, an additional "pre-delivery" maintenance inspection could be performed for bonus marks. A panel of judges that included Mazda's regional technical trainers, previous winners and a number of long-term Mazda employees inspected each vehicle to determine a winner.
Bergen tied for fourth place at the competition. He noted that the other competing technicians had an average 18 years experience in the trade.
"I hope to be back next year," he added. "I have a better idea now of what to expect."
Chrysler dealers donate Jeep to CancerCare
The Manitoba Chrysler Dealers Advertising Association is donating a 2014 Jeep Wrangler in aid of the CancerCare Manitoba Foundation.
The Jeep will be raffled at the Foundation's Gold-Plated Evening event on April 30 at the RBC Convention Centre. Proceeds from the evening will be going towards research into men's cancers.
Keith Boyd, retired Birchwood Chevrolet general manager (and a former president of the Manitoba Motor Dealers Association) said 1,000 Winnipeg business men and women support the Foundation event.
The raffle tickets are $100 a piece and the Jeep is worth $27,500, he added.
"If the winner doesn't want the Jeep, he or she will receive a $27,500 certificate to be used toward the purchase price of any new Chrysler car or truck sold by Winnipeg's five Chrysler dealers."
The Manitoba Chrysler Dealers Advertising Association will also be giving everyone who buys a ticket to the event a $500 appreciation certificate that also can be redeemed toward the purchase price of any new Chrysler product.
Dinner tickets ($250 each) can be purchased online at cancercarefdn.mb.ca or by calling 204.784-2777 .