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XV ‘super important’ for Subaru

Size doesn’t matter: Subaru says its larger new-gen XV (Geneva show concept pictured) will appeal to shoppers looking at the larger end of the small-SUV segment.

Subaru hunting smaller competitors with next-gen XV compact SUV


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14 Sep 2016

SUBARU Australia is confident that it can snap up a share of the booming compact-SUV market with its next-generation XV high-rider, despite the Impreza-based model measuring up significantly larger than the segment’s key players.

While industry registration tables lump models into various easy-to-digest categories, which would appear to suggest the XV does not compete with the babies of the SUV market, the Japanese car-maker says customers think less about relative model sizes and more about what car is right for them.

The next-generation XV will arrive mid-next year and will be the second vehicle to roll out on the company’s fresh new Global Platform after the Impreza, bringing a host of improvements to the model which, according to Subaru, matters more to prospective buyers than inches and millimetres.

Speaking at the international first drive of the new Impreza, Subaru Australia managing director Nick Senior said the smaller end of the SUV market was “super important” to the company, and that a new XV version has the potential to compete against smaller rivals.

“As much as the XV currently is arguably a quarter or half a size bigger than the (Mazda) CX-3 and (Honda) HR-V, I think you could also argue customers don’t see it that way, so the opportunity for XV in that booming segment is pretty strong,” he said.

“You could argue on size that there should be a light SUV, a small, a small-plus, a medium and a large (segment). I think it’s a bit frustrating when you have CX-3 versus XV in particular – people say ‘I’m shopping’ and the XV is a considerably bigger vehicle than CX-3.”

Subaru is yet to release any new XV details following the reveal of the concept that previews the production model at the Geneva motor show earlier this year, but Mr Senior said that the SUV would continue to share many mechanical and technical details of the Impreza and WRX.

“I think the extent of the changes in the new Impreza, I think it’s fair to speculate it’s going to be mirrored in XV.”

While Subaru is confident it can fight out the compact SUV segment with a larger model, it has a different strategy for battling in the compact passenger market, in which it also cannot offer a model to match rival’s proportions.

Mr Senior said the lack of a compact hatchback to sit below the Impreza was not a significant problem because customers with a light car budget can opt for a larger Subaru from the company’s pre-owned range.

“It’s not the biggest issue, but it is an issue, and it’s one of the reasons why we focus so much on Subaru Assured, our certified used cars because that for many now is the entrée into Subaru.”

With the Forester and Outback, Subaru has the medium and large end of the Australian SUV market sewn up, but since the demise of the Tribeca a few years back, it has not offered a larger seven-seat model.

The car-maker has already confirmed that it would produce a new seven-seat model to replace the Tribeca, but Mr Senior said it was unlikely to be offered in Australia as it is destined for left-hand-drive markets only.

“There is a large SUV seven-seater but it is US only, being built in the US and the US production line is only left hand drive. We would look at it but there’s no talk of it being in right hand drive.”

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