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New York show: Subaru Ascent not for Oz

Pew pew: Subaru’s Ascent concept features a three-row seat layout, but instead of the traditional 2-3-2 layout, the new SUV sports a 2-2-3 configuration.

Subaru’s new Ascent concept revealed, but LHD production keeps it confined to US

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Subaru logo13 Apr 2017

By TUNG NGUYEN

FANS of Subaru’s Tribeca seven-seater will have to wait longer for a new three-row model as the Ascent concept revealed overnight at the New York motor show will likely remain an exclusively North American model.

Subaru Australia national corporate affairs manager David Rowley told GoAuto the Ascent is currently off the table for the local market due to a lack of right-hand-drive production.

“It’s being made in the Subaru of America factory in Indiana and its left-hand drive only so, at this stage, we’re not aware of any plans for it to be made in right-hand drive at all,” he said.

“But, as per usual, if that were to change at some indeterminate time in the future, we’re always interested in evaluating new product from Subaru Corporation, but it’s just not currently an option.”

The third model to be built on the Subaru Global Platform after the Impreza small car and incoming XV crossover, the Ascent will be built in Indiana – a facility which, until recently, shared production capabilities with Toyota.

Mr Rowley explained that production at the facility was ramped up to meet increased demand in the North American market – where the facility also builds the Legacy (Liberty), Outback and Impreza – and is now a wholly Subaru site.

“In the States, much like here, they sell every car that they get – pretty much instantly,” he said. “So, if this car follows this trend for them in North America, they’re probably not going to have that much wiggle room for production for other markets.

“I guess it would be up to Japan to evaluate whether they need to expand that manufacturing capacity in some way.”

Sharing familial styling cues with Subaru’s new Impreza and forthcoming XV crossover, the Ascent concept wears a prominent front hexagonal grille, sleek C-shaped headlights and bulging underbody cladding.

Small side mirrors allude to its concept status, as do the 21-inch wheels shod in 275/50 rubber and door handles that sit flush with the sculpted bodywork.

The interior of the Ascent is swathed in white leather with brown stitching highlights and door trims for added visual flare, while the concept rocks a unique seat layout with two captain’s chairs in the second row and a three-seat bench in the third row.

Measuring in at 5050mm long, 1990mm wide and 1840mm high, with a 2970mm wheelbase, the Ascent is set to compete directly against the likes of the Mazda CX-9, Nissan Pathfinder and Toyota Kluger, or Highlander as it is known in the US.

Subaru says “it will be powered by a newly-developed Boxer direct injection turbo engine”, but the Japanese car-maker has not revealed the displacement size, cylinder count, or power and torque figures.

As with all Subaru vehicles – except the Toyota co-developed BRZ – the Ascent will likely arrive to market with a symmetrical all-wheel-drive system.

Although the Australian and UK markets took deliveries of the right-hand-drive Tribeca back in the mid-2000s, the model was discontinued in 2013 after finding 11,368 homes Down Under.

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