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Tokyo show: Subaru previews second-gen Levorg

Levorg wagon ‘prototype’ unveiled at Tokyo could provide clues to Subaru’s next WRX

24 Oct 2019

SUBARU reaffirmed its commitment to the bonnet scoop by headlining its Tokyo motor show presence with a prototype of the second-generation Levorg wagon, which will debut a new 1.8-litre turbocharged boxer engine when it reaches production in the second half of next year.


Potentially previewing Subaru’s next WRX performance model, the almost production-ready Levorg shares design elements of the wild Vziv Performance STI concept unveiled at Tokyo Auto Salon early last year, such as the angular wheelarches, slim C-shaped headlights and sculpted junction of bonnet and front fenders.


Subaru’s new 1.8-litre turbo-petrol engine could also form the basis of a next-gen WRX drivetrain and though specifications are yet to be confirmed, it is likely the company will be targeting outputs that at least match the existing 2.0-litre turbo’s 197kW and 350Nm combined with the fuel efficiency of the 124kW/250Nm 1.6-litre turbo.


The STI scorcher is expected to add some form of hybrid drive into the mix, as emissions regulations have already forced Subaru to axe its performance flagship in some markets.


Although the Levorg has been outsold by the BRZ sports coupe in Australia since 2018 and has never been as popular here as the WRX on which it is based, Subaru Australia national corporate affairs manager David Rowley remained optimistic of the second-generation model’s chances for this market.


“It is too early for us to talk timeframes but from our point of view, we’ve proven there is a market for those turbo wagons,” he said. “That goes right back to the old Liberty GT days, to which the Levorg is a natural successor.”


As Subaru’s Japanese domestic market will not receive the new Levorg until mid-2020 at the earliest, Mr Rowley said there was “plenty of time for us to look at our business case”.


“There’s a lot of thought going into where we head with that concept,” he added.


Subaru’s EyeSight suite of active safety and driver-assist technologies will come in for some significant upgrades on the new Levorg, combining beefed-up cameras and radars to extend its autonomous emergency braking (AEB) capability to sense and avoid crossing traffic when pulling out of intersections.


Also enhanced is the adaptive cruise control (ACC) system, which will take in GPS data to automatically adjust vehicle speed for corners and provide “hands-off driving support” in traffic congestion.


Like many recent Subaru designs, the next-generation Levorg does not signify a dramatic styling departure from its predecessor, with the sleek wagon profile maintained along with the signature bonnet scoop.


Consistent with Subaru concepts since images of the Vziv Performance STI broke cover in late 2017 and followed up by the Levorg-previewing Vziv Tourer concept at last year’s Geneva show, Subaru looks set to put the controversial styling statement of angular wheelarches – resembling the shape of a 50 cent coin – into production.


Flattened-out arches have not been seen on production Subarus since the early 2000s and early reaction to the Levorg prototype’s polarising arches mean only time will tell if this feature is carried through to the showroom version.


Subaru describes the Levorg prototype’s design as “to challenge something that one has never tried before”.


Mr Rowley told GoAuto it was too early to discuss the new Levorg’s relationship to the next-generation WRX, but said Subaru’s Australian operation would “be delighted” if the Levorg prototype’s styling cues were reflected on a future WRX.


Closer on the horizon are mild-hybrid versions of the Forester mid-size SUV and XV small crossover, which will hit Australian showrooms in the first quarter of next year. Mr Rowley said the sixth-generation Outback wagon crossover is hoped to arrive before the end of 2020.

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