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Turbo XV on Subaru Oz wish list

X factor: Subaru’s XV small SUV might receive a wave of the WRX turbo wand.

Subaru says hot SUVs the coming thing as buyers turn off large cars

24 Jan 2013

SUBARU’S hot-selling XV small SUV might be the next candidate for the high-performance turbocharged powertrain treatment, at least if Subaru Australia managing director Nick Senior gets his way.

Speaking at the Australian launch of the 177kW turbo Forester XT, Mr Senior said the dramatic market swing to SUVs over the past 12 months meant the next logical step was more special vehicles based on these high-riding vehicles, which he described as “the family cars of the 2010s”.

While Mr Senior said Subaru had no immediate plans to introduce an ‘XT’ flagship version of the smaller XV, he did not rule it out.

Introduced in Australia 12 months ago, the XV garnered 9908 sales in its first year, making it the third best seller in the 2012 Australian small SUV segment behind the Nissan Dualis (13,141) and Hyundai ix35 (11,469).

The segment grew by a whopping 55 per cent last year, making it the fastest expanding segment in the land. With new entrants such as Holden’s Trax headed our way this year, it is unlikely to slow down.

Overall SUV sales growth was 25 per cent in 2012, with sales soaring past 300,000 units for the first time and heading for a third of the market this year.

Mr Senior said the decline in large car sales and a question mark against the locally made Holden Commodore and Ford Falcon meant the future of special vehicles would be in SUVs and small cars.

He said he did not see an end in sight to the switch to SUVs, which he said would continue.

“There’s nothing to indicate that it’s going to slow down,” he said.

The Subaru XV employs the same 110kW 2.0-litre petrol engine as the Forester’s manual gearbox variants, along with the same continuously variable transmission (CVT), seemingly making it a relatively simple task to upgrade to the high-powered 177kW turbocharged boxer engine from the new Forester XT.

Tipping the scales at 1400kg – more than 200kg lighter than the Forster XT – the XV would potentially be considerably more potent than the Forester version, should the smaller vehicle gain the turbo engine transplant.

The new Forester XT covers the 0-100km/h sprint in 7.5 seconds, while the standard normally aspirated XV does the dash in about 10 seconds.

Mr Senior ruled out a diesel for XV, saying buyers of small SUVs overwhelmingly favoured petrol, making it hard to justify the engineering cost of such a variant.

He indicated that Subaru expected sales of its passenger car range to dip a little in 2013, while making up ground with its SUVs, especially the new Forester and the upcoming Outback diesel CVT.

He said Subaru expected to sell about 42,000 vehicles in Australia this year, about 1800 units up on 2011’s record 40,189 vehicles.

The Forester was expected to contribute 12,000 of those sales, with XV selling about the same as last year, around 10,000 units.

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