The third generation Leone (1984-1994) was renamed Subaru Loyale in the United States in 1990. After three generations, the model was replaced by the Subaru Impreza in 1993. The pick-up version was called Subaru Brat.
Subaru Leone / Loyale Overview
The Subaru Leone, known as the Loyale in some markets, is a pivotal model in Subaru’s history. Produced from the early 1970s to the mid-1990s, it was the predecessor to the Subaru Impreza and played a key role in establishing Subaru’s global presence. The Subaru Leone was introduced in 1971, succeeding models like the Subaru FF-1. It was a part of Subaru’s efforts to expand its lineup and appeal to a wider market. “Leone” means “lion” in Italian, and the car’s name was intended to convey strength and reliability.
The Leone was initially offered with Subaru’s flat-four boxer engines, ranging in size from 1.4L to 1.8L over its lifespan. The Leone was notable for introducing Subaru’s all-wheel-drive (AWD) system in 1972, which became one of the brand’s defining features. While the AWD system was initially an option, it became standard on many models later on. It came with a variety of transmission options over the years, including 3-speed automatics and 4- or 5-speed manuals.
Over its production span, the Leone was offered in a variety of body styles, including coupes, sedans, station wagons, and even a pickup variant (the Subaru Brat) in certain markets. The Leone underwent several updates and facelifts during its production, leading to distinct generations with updated styling and features.
The Leone’s blend of reliability, AWD capability, and affordability made it a success in many international markets, from the U.S. to Australia. In some markets, especially the U.S., the AWD system gave Subaru a unique selling point, appealing to drivers in regions with harsh weather conditions. In the later stages of its life, especially in North America, the Leone name was phased out in favor of model-specific names like Loyale, DL, GL, and RX. The Loyale name was used in the U.S. towards the end of the Leone’s production.
Subaru Leone / Loyale Sales Figures
The Leone played a key role in establishing Subaru’s reputation as a pioneer of mass-market all-wheel-drive vehicles, a reputation that continues to this day. By the mid-1990s, the Leone was succeeded by the Subaru Impreza, which would go on to become one of the brand’s most iconic and successful models, especially with the rally-famous WRX and WRX STI versions.