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Subaru has fingers crossed for auto diesel Forester

Oil drilling: Subaru’s diesel Forester might yet get a CVT alternative to the current manual transmission of Outback’s diesel auto sells up a storm.

Upcoming Subaru Outback diesel CVT to be used as argument for similar Forester

23 Jan 2013

SUBARU Australia might yet realise its wish for an automatic transmission-equipped diesel Forester, although it would not be for at least two years.

The local branch of Subaru is pinning its hopes on the success of the upcoming Outback diesel automatic – the first vehicle with that powertrain combination in the Subaru range – to convince head office in Japan that spending the money and effort on an auto diesel Forester also would be worthwhile.

Subaru Australia managing director Nick Senior said at this week’s Forester XT launch that he had high hopes for the Outback diesel that gains an automatic variant from April.

“We see the Outback diesel with CVT (continuously variable transmission) as a big opportunity for strong incremental sales,” he said.

Mr Senior said no such version of Forester was on offer or in the engineering pipeline, but was not completely out of the question.

“We hope that with strong sales of Outback (diesel CVT), we can demonstrate the potential for a Forester diesel CVT,” he said.

Subaru decided to develop the CVT diesel powertrain for Outback as it was seen as the model that would most benefit from it.

Mr Senior said the Outback’s large SUV class had a stronger take-up of diesel than the Forester’s medium class, where petrol had a stronger hold.

However, a diesel engine with a CVT transmission would attract more buyers to Forester.

Plummeting sales of vehicles in the diesel stronghold of Europe in the post-GFC recession has not helped Australia’s cause in its quest for a CVT version of its diesel Forester, which comes only with a manual transmission in the new fourth generation range arriving in showrooms this month.

With minimal diesel light-vehicle sales in the United States, Japan and China, Subaru Australia is struggling for allies in its quest for the CVT diesel Forester, which Mr Senior believes would enhance the attractiveness of the thrifty diesel engine in Australia where automatic transmissions are king.

Mr Senior said that even if the decision was taken to engineer that product, it would take until about 2015 for it to arrive.

Asked if Subaru was considering a repeat of the scorching S-Edition turbo-petrol Forester in the new generation, Mr Senior said it was not on Subaru’s product plans.

He said that if Subaru did decide to make such a special edition version of Forester again, it would not be until later in the new Forester’s model cycle.

In the previous generation, the Forester S-Edition was equipped with a 193kW 2.5-litre turbocharged engine – 27kW more than the most powerful engine in standard range, the 169kW XT.

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