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First look: Subaru confirms CVT for Liberty

Wider: Subaru's new Liberty has been pumped up for a more spacious interior.

Bigger Subaru Liberty and Outback to ride on all-new platform

22 May 2009

SUBARU Australia has confirmed that its new, bigger all-wheel-drive Liberty and Outback due here in September will get the fuel-saving stepless constantly variable transmission (CVT) announced in the US Legacy at the New York motor show last month.

It also has ticked the box for a range-topping 3.6-litre six-cylinder boxer engine borrowed from the Tribeca SUV in place of the existing 3.0-litre six, taking its place in the Liberty/Outback range alongside a revised version of the familiar 2.5-litre flat four and a four-cylinder diesel for Outback.

While the Australian Liberty and Outback – sitting on the all-new platform of the Japanese Legacy – are slimmer than the US Legacy, they nevertheless gain about 30mm in width over the current Liberty sold here.

This will help to address one of the perceived shortcomings of the outgoing model – a rear seat too squeezy for three Aussie adults.

And despite the extra girth and more features, Subaru promises that the new models will have enhanced fuel efficiency and crisper handling.

Subaru says it is confident the new Liberty and Outback will also step up to a five-star safety rating in ANCAP testing, thanks to a stronger body using high-strength steels, a new engine cradle that folds to isolate the engine block from the cabin in heavy crashes and knee airbags for the driver and front passenger.

2 center imageLeft: Subaru Liberty. Below: Subaru Outback.

All models – including the turbocharged 2.5-litre 169kW Liberty GT – will be available on debut in September, except for the diesel version of the Outback, which is now expected to bring up the rear in November.

Pictures of the Japanese Legacy released this week show near-identical styling to the US cars revealed in New York, despite the narrower width.

Clearly, Subaru designers have taken an evolutionary approach to the new exterior, which is unlikely to spook existing customers.

The conservative new skin cloaks a major reworking of the body architecture, chassis and some of the mechanicals.

The compact 3.6-litre boxer six is expected to deliver the same performance figures as the Tribeca iteration – 190kW of power and 350Nm of torque. This is 10kW and 53Nm more than current 3.0-litre engine.

This engine is expected to be coupled with the CVT transmission – Lineartronic, in Subaru-speak – to maximise fuel-efficiency gains. No fuel figures have been announced yet.

Six-speed manual and five-speed auto transmissions will also be available on various models, although the diesel Outback will only be available in manual form.

Power and torque figures have not been announced for the single-overhead-cam 2.5-litre flat four cooking engine, but it is unlikely to get more than a tweak. The current version pumps out 127kW of power at 6000rpm and 226Nm of torque.

Among new features foreshadowed by Subaru for the Australian models are rain-sensing wipers, auto headlights, “push-button start options” and a reversing camera with sav-nav option.

Subaru Australia managing director Nick Senior said the new Liberty and Outback would be stronger, more spacious and safer.

“They also adopt the Subaru Dynamic Chassis Concept that’s been so successfully applied to new-generation Impreza and Forester, producing a great drive,” he said.

Mr Senior said he expected the Liberty and Outback to build strongly on the respected records of the current cars, at the same time “maintaining the fun driving that’s at the heart of every Subaru”.

Pricing will be announced at launch in September.

Read more:

First look: Subaru reveals US version of new Liberty

New York show: Subaru heads Outback again

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