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Subaru tempts with stretched Exiga seven-seat wagon

Seven-up: Exiga's wheelbase is about 130mm longer than Forester's.

Push for Aussie release now underway as Subaru launches Exiga in Japan

23 Jun 2008

SUBARU has released the Exiga crossover wagon in Japan, a seven-seater based on a stretched Impreza/Forester platform that looks set for an Australian introduction within 18 months.

Excited by the prospect of the Exiga slotting into the range between the Liberty/Outback wagon and the Tribeca SUV, Subaru Australia managing director Nick Senior told GoAuto this week that his engineers made a preliminary assessment of the vehicle last week and that steps were now being taken to see it introduced here.

“We’re not likely to see the vehicle … until, at the absolute earliest, very, very late next year or early 2010,” he said. “It is something that is exciting, and I think pioneering a different type of concept in much the way that the Outback and the Forester were pioneers. Here we’ve got a very versatile multi-seat vehicle that gives us opportunities to be a category to itself.

“I’ll be going up and having a drive myself in August as a precursor to start getting serious and putting this business case together.”

2 center imageThe Exiga is based on the Impreza small-car platform, which has spawned the new-generation Forester compact SUV and could also provide the underpinnings for the next-generation Liberty/Outback which is due for release in Australia in the third quarter of next year.

The current Liberty/Outback is based on a separate platform, but Mr Senior was unable to confirm whether this would continue to be the case in the next generation.

“We haven’t released any details of that,” he said.

The Exiga rests on a stretched 2750mm wheelbase, which is around 130mm longer than both the Impreza and Forester, but its other dimensions are quite compact. These include 4740mm in overall length, 1775mm in width and 1660mm in height.

Mr Senior said the Exiga would be positioned between the Liberty/Outback and the Tribeca SUV, and would likely carry the Exiga nameplate (an amalgam of “exciting” and “active”) in Australia.

“It’s probably more along the Liberty/Outback size and slotting in around there – under the Tribeca,” he said.

“It would fit into our current core model platform, where we have the Impreza, then the Forester, then the iberty/Outback and potentially an Exiga-type product, and then Tribeca. So it slots into the model range quite neatly.”

In Japan, the Exiga will compete primarily against compact people-movers such as the Renault Scenic and Opel (and one-time Holden) Zafira. Subaru’s affiliation with General Motors enabled it to rebadge the previous-generation Zafira as its own, but the Exiga is an all-new vehicle from the ground up.

Shown as a concept car at the Tokyo motor show last year, the Exiga has entered production with the choice of a naturally aspirated 109kW/191Nm 2.0-litre DOHC boxer-four engine or a turbocharged 165kW/326Nm 2.0-litre version.

The turbo variant is fitted standard with all-wheel drive and a five-speed automatic gearbox, while the natural-breathing engines are available with either two-wheel drive or AWD and combine with a four-speed automatic.

The Exiga is built to the same high safety standards as the Impreza and Forester, and its curtain airbags extend to the third row. Other points of interest include a large panoramic glass roof and an “eco gauge” on the instrument panel that lights up whenever the driver takes a mileage-conscious attitude.

The 2+3+2 seating is in theatre arrangement, with the compact double-wishbone rear suspension brought with the new-generation Impreza maximising space and comfort for third-row occupants and enabling a wider-than-normal luggage area.

There are also some practical features not seen on the Forester, such as second-row seat portions positioned on tracks to allow fore/aft adjustment (across a 180mm range).

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