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New York show: Subaru set to tease next WRX

Around the bend: The Subaru XV hybrid seen here will bow in New York, but it's the likely appearance of a WRX concept - possibly resembling the previous recent concept seen below - that is creating real buzz.

Subaru to debut hybrid XV and preview next WRX in New York next week

21 Mar 2013

SUBARU appears poised to preview its eagerly awaited new WRX at next week’s New York motor show after announcing plans to premiere a mystery “performance concept car”.

Details are scarce, but GoAuto understands the concept will likely give us our best look yet at what to expect from the third-generation Rex due on-sale in 2014.

The Japanese car-maker has already confirmed the next WRX will be styled differently to the regular Impreza, even though it will continue to share the same basic platform.

It is unclear if the New York concept will preview the mechanicals, or just the styling.

The next WRX is expected to move to a smaller displacement turbo-petrol engine, possibly a 2.0-litre as opposed to the current model’s 2.5-litre Boxer unit. Naturally, power will continue to be sent to all four wheels.

However, the next-generation model could also feasibly go in a more radical direction by taking a leaf from the Subaru Viziv concept shown in Geneva this month, which supplemented an internal combustion engine with electric motors.

GoAuto understands the new Rex will make its production debut at the Tokyo motor show in November this year.

Meanwhile, the “performance concept” will be joined in New York by Subaru’s first production hybrid – a petrol-electric XV crossover pitched squarely at the North American market.

The XV Crosstrek hybrid matches a combined internal combustion/electric powertrain to the company’s signature all-wheel-drive system, much like the car-maker’s first attempt at a petrol-electric car – the non-production Hybrid Tourer Concept from 2009.

But don’t expect to see it on sale in Australia any time soon, as Subaru has no plans at this stage to bring the car here.

In an interview with GoAuto this week, before the XV hybrid was revealed, Subaru Australia managing director Nick Senior said petrol-electric or diesel-electric cars were not a priority here over the next few years.

In the case of the XV, Mr Senior said he would prefer to see diesel and quicker turbo-petrol engines added to the range, stating that “our future is SUVs and performance vehicles”.

Mr Senior said the larger turbo Forester XT was a popular and unique choice, and that he has lobbied for a conceptually similar XV variant. As both a crossover SUV and a performance car, such a vehicle would appear to be a natural fit.

In a wider discussion on hybrid cars, prompted by news that Subaru’s US subsidiary plans to branch out into this area, Mr Senior said a similar time would come for Australia, but that it is not here yet.

“The timeline for it (hybrid) to be introduced into Australia has not even been discussed, indeed there are no plans for it to be introduced,” he said.

“There’s not a huge line of people waiting outside dealerships looking to buy hybrids, whether it’s Subaru, Toyota or any other company in Australia, so I think we have to be realistic and take hybrids one step at a time, to use a cliché.

“The focus needs to be on what people want now rather than what they're talking about down the track.

“We have, as the rest of the industry has, has made significant inroads in reducing emissions, reducing fuel consumption and the cars that we are bringing in today at competitive market pricing – we are just not seeing that demand for hybrids.

“Don’t say its not going to happen, because it will happen. But it is probably happening later than most people originally envisaged.”

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