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Subaru looks to Levorg sports wagon

Hot wagon: The Subaru Levorg could serve as a pseudo replacement for the axed WRX five-door.

Levorg turbo wagon still on Subaru Australia wish list, but not until mid-2015


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27 Mar 2014

31/03/2014SUBARU Australia will not know until the end of this year if it will get its hands on the Levorg hot wagon for sale Down Under, pushing any potential local launch out to the middle of 2015.

Revealed last November at the Tokyo motor show, the Levorg is a turbocharged, four-cylinder, all-wheel-drive ‘tourer’ that could, in essence, stand in for the discontinued WRX hot hatch. However at present, it is a Japanese-market car.

The fourth-generation WRX was launched this week in sedan-only configuration, something Subaru said would not impact sales to any great degree as traditionally about 85 per cent of all ‘Rex sales were of the three-box version.

In addition, the company said the introduction of a new CVT automatic option would open the performance icon up to a greater audience than its manual-only predecessor, especially among women who comprise fewer than 15 per cent of WRX buyers.

However, the wider market for affordable performance cars in Australia is dominated by hatchbacks, with 80 per cent of small-car-based hot models sold in this configuration.

While not a hatch per se, the Levorg wagon would in some way fill the breach, and in addition would also give Subaru a rival for the Skoda Octavia RS wagon.

Although it is built on the Impreza platform, the Japanese-built five-door vehicle is 110mm longer than the Impreza sedan and only 100mm shorter than the current Liberty wagon, the latter of which Levorg is also expected to replace when the new Liberty arrives in sedan-only form in early 2015.

With the seven-seat Tribeca now discontinued, Subaru’s distributor Inchacape will also have additional resources to market a new model line. Traditionally, the company has kept its Australian line-up simple and uncluttered.

The Levorg is expected to be sold with a choice of four-cylinder turbo-charged boxer powerplants – a 125kW/250Nm 1.6 litre and a 221kW/400Nm 2.0 litre, the latter of which will potentially attract WRX buyers who prefer a five-door.

The Levorg’s 221kW engine is likely to split the difference between the 197kW 2.0-litreWRX and 227kW 2.5-litre STI powerplants.

Speaking with GoAuto this week, Subaru Australia managing director Nick Senior said the company’s local arm still wanted to bring the Levorg here, as it did when the car was revealed last year, but admitted the business case had not progressed far.

However, Mr Senior will head to Japan next month for discussions with parent company Fuji Heavy Industries (FHI) that will encompass Levorg, and whether production capacity in Japan will leave any Levorgs spare for Australia.

“I’m over there in about 4-5 weeks, and we start having the discussion about Levorg, start the preparation for the business case with FHI,” he said.

“We need to have that (the business case) in quarter three (of 2014), and then the decision will probably be made towards end of year.”

This would push any launch out to mid 2015 at least, he said, adding that: “It’s still a fair amount of work, but it hasn't progressed a lot.” As for whether the company would retain the rather awkward Levorg nameplate or perhaps switch it to something palatable such as the WRX wagon, Mr Senior said it would make no sense to change to name for a market like Australia.

“It doesn't make any sense to change the name, there's too much equity invested now in vehicle names,” he said.

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