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Shanghai show: Subaru sets XV free

Green machine: Subaru has whipped the covers from the XV Concept crossover at the Shanghai show.

Subaru charts bigger role for XV compact crossover by separating it from Impreza

19 Apr 2011

SUBARU has signalled its intention to go gunning for a bigger chunk of the sub-compact SUV market with the new Impreza-based XV, which was revealed in concept form at the Shanghai motor show today.

The Impreza name was notably absent from the vehicle, pointing to new standalone sub-branding for the small crossover to separate it from the conventional sedan and hatch of the Impreza range, in the same way that Outback is separated from Liberty.

The fourth-generation Impreza is set to make its public debut in production guise this week at the New York motor show ahead of its showroom rollout around the world, including Australia, in the second half of this year.

Bigger in most dimensions that the current Impreza XV, the new Subaru XV Concept shares the same high-riding stance and hardy black plastic wheel-arch mouldings and side skirts of the current model that arrived in Australia less than a year ago.

Overall length of the Shanghai vehicle is 4450mm – 20mm longer than the current XV – while width is up 30mm to 1800mm.

The wheelbase also has been stretched 20mm, to 2635mm, presumably in line with the new Impreza platform.

2 center imageThe XV is designed to fit below the Subaru Forester, which also sits on the Impreza platform.

The current Forester will still be 110mm longer than the new XV, as well as 80mm taller, although the XV will be 5mm wider. The next-generation Forester can be expected to be bigger again.

Like the current XV, the five-seat XV concept is powered by a 2.0-litre version of Subaru’s trademark boxer engine, but instead of the five-speed manual gearbox or four-speed automatic transmission of the current range, power is transferred to the XV’s all-wheel-drive system by a Lineartronic continuously variable transmission (CVT).

The nose of the XV reveals Subaru’s new octagonal grille design with what the company’s media release describes as a “winged motif”. The central bar across the grille is in body colour, wrapping around the familiar Subaru star badge.

The headlights are described as “hawk-eye”, with HID globes showing a metallic blue tinge. Fog lights are set into the lower bumper and appear to be minus the large grey surrounds evident in the Impreza photograph released ahead of the New York show.

Subaru said the five-spoke alloy wheel design – with silver spokes, black rims and clear blue centre caps – complements the car’s strength and road presence.

“The XV concept roof features a continuous glass sheet, while metallic and clear-finish roof rails are another positive visual cue,” the company said in its Shanghai press release.

“A light interior leather treatment contrasts with the darker tones of other cabin features.

“A large touch panel multi-function display in the centre panel enables easy navigation and audio control while displaying vehicle information.” Subaru Australia managing director Nick Senior said the XV Concept clearly flagged Subaru’s intention to capture even more of the crossover market.

“This stunning new design no doubt provides some clues as to what we may expect,” he said.

“Sub-compact SUVs are a growing opportunity and XV Concept is the type of vehicle that will attract even more customers.” The current XV arrived in Australia to bolster the Impreza line-up in June 2010, billed as a lifestyle vehicle.

Apart from a 30cm-higher ride height for improved ground clearance, the XV was differentiated from the standard Impreza hatch by a redesigned grille, front and rear bumpers, roof rails, rear spoiler and moulded wheel-arch extensions.

It hit the market at $27,490 for the manual version, with a $2000 premium for the auto.

To sharpen XV sales further this year, Subaru introduced a limited run of 250 hatches under the Mizuno sportswear tag, offering a range of extras worth more than $3000.

Even though the Impreza range is in run-out ahead of the new-generation model that is expected to arrive Down Under about October, the Subaru small car is back firing on all cylinders in the showroom, with first-quarter sales up 66.6 per cent.

The new Impreza range is expected to make its Australian public debut at the Australian International Motor Show in Melbourne on July 1.

Potentially, the production XV might also make the local show.

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