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Subaru’s Euro inbetweener

New addition: Subaru might introduce a mid-sized sports wagon to slot between the Impreza and Liberty/Outback ranges, based on the Touring Concept from Tokyo.

Sub-Liberty wagon under consideration as Subaru tests waters with intriguing concept

6 Dec 2011


SUBARU is considering slotting a mid-sized ‘sports wagon’ to slot between the Impreza and Liberty/Outback ranges.

Previewed as the Touring Concept in Tokyo last week, the show car aims to gauge feedback from the public and press before Subaru decides whether it will go down another model-line path. Contrary to previous reports, there is no connection between this and the next-generation Liberty or Outback wagons.

While officially the company denies there are plans afoot to extend its range, saying instead that the Touring Concept is here to merely highlight possible drivetrain derivatives, one Fuji Heavy Industries insider revealed that a wagon/crossover contender could be an attractive proposition for Subaru, particularly in Europe.

As the sixth-generation Liberty/Outback is expected to again grow in size to appease the US market, the need for a rival against the smaller Ford Mondeo, Opel Insignia, Hyundai i40 Tourer and Volvo V60 markets in Europe is growing, particularly as SUVs are not as popular on the Continent as in some other markets around the world.

Our source even suggested that a six or seven-seater option may be offered if the production green light is given, to simultaneously replace the ungainly Exiga and troubled Tribeca B9 – although once again nothing has yet been committed to stone.

2 center imageBuilt off an existing platform complete with a mechanical all-wheel drive set-up, the show car’s MacPherson strut front and double wishbone rear suspension system would be easily adapted from Subaru’s current modular architecture that serves everything from the Impreza through to the Forester and Outback SUVs.

As we revealed late last month, the Touring Concept is powered by a hybrid drivetrain that marries an electric motor with a new 1.6-litre turbo ‘boxer’ petrol engine with direct injection.

In the interests of significant fuel economy gains combined with Euro-friendly lower emissions, it is expected to provide the basis for the new downsized powerplant for the next-generation WRX and STI due out sometime during 2013.

Other notable features in the show car include Subaru's chain-drive continuously variable transmission (first seen in the existing Liberty/Outback in 2009), but modified extensively “to satisfy the high-power output turbo engine” application, as well as a regenerating mechanism when decelerating, so the motor can act as a power generator for when the Touring Concept is in EV mode.

While a decision as to if or when a production call is made is still some time away, our insider said that the Tourer Concept is also as much about an exercise in aerodynamic detailing, underbody airflow properties, and weight saving technology as anything else, as Subaru explores all avenues in its quest to reduce consumption and emissions in its larger vehicles.

Watch this space.

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