Subaru has unveiled its new US-targeted seven seat Ascent SUV concept at the New York motor show overnight and has not ruled out considering a right-hand drive variant for Australia.
The Ascent, based on an expanded version of the new Impreza’s Subaru Global Platform, will be one of the biggest SUVs on the market, sitting on a 2970mm wheelbase and measuring 5050mm long to out-size the Toyota Kluger (4890mm in length) and come in just shy of the Mazda CX-9 (5075mm) and Audi Q7 (5052mm).
The Ascent will face-off in the US market with existing large SUVs from Chevrolet and Ford, and also take on the upcoming Volkswagen Atlas, which will commence production in Tennessee later this year.
With a 2.0-litre turbo-petrol four and front-wheel drive or optional 3.6-litre V6 and all-wheel drive, the Atlas is 4958mm long and has a 2934mm wheelbase.
Subaru said the SUV – its biggest vehicle ever – will be made at the company’s US factory in Indiana from early next year and only in left-hand drive only for now. But a right-hand drive version has not been ruled out with Subaru stating it wants to concentrate on the huge US market first.
Subaru has said the Ascent’s engine is “all new” and has direct injection and turbocharging.
Subaru Australia's David Rowley said if that were to change “at some indeterminate time in the future, we’re always interested in evaluating innovative new product from Subaru Corporation. But it’s currently not an option”.
The Ascent is based on the Viziv-7 concept shown at last year's Los Angeles motor show that featured seating for seven occupants with swivel centre seats. The Ascent concept shown in New York has seating for up to seven.
Externally, the Ascent adopts the boxy style of the three-row wagons such as the Mazda CX-9, Toyota Kluger and Nissan Pathfinder.
It has a distinctive, chromed grille and a large lower air intake, flanked by slim headlights and fog lights integrated into the bumpers.
No technical details are available but it is believed the new SUV will not use Subaru’s six-cylinder naturally aspirated engine but follow the path of the Mazda CX-9 by ditching two cylinders and then turbocharging a four-cylinder engine.
Subaru has said the Ascent’s engine is “all new” and has direct injection and turbocharging, making it likely to be a higher-displacement derivative of the 2.0-litre BRZ engine, perhaps expanded to 2.4-litres or 2.5-litres. It will have a CVT (continuously variable transmission) and all-wheel drive.
The Ascent – which will have to change its name if it is eventually offered in Australia as it is registered by Toyota for a Corolla variant – replaces the seven-seat Tribeca that finished production in the US and left Australian showrooms in 2014.
Subaru will add 1200 more jobs at its Indiana factory to build the Ascent, and will invest an additional $A185 million on the plant and equipment.
The Ascent will next be seen in its production version at the Los Angeles Auto Show in December this year.
Would you consider a large SUV from Subaru, or is the Mazda CX-9 more your style? Tell us what you think in the comments below.