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Now Subaru jumps on the bandwagon

Set to be officially unveiled by Subaru Japan on June 17, the sleek seven-seat wagon is initially slated for the domestic market but Subaru Australia is not going to let that interfere with an opportunity.

“We are very keen to learn more about it from Fuji Heavy Industries,” Subaru Australia's Dave Rowley says. “It is not on the horizon yet but we are very keen to discuss it with FHI and explore any business case for Australia.”

While Subaru Australia believes the Exiga could establish a new niche segment, it will most probably be compared with more car-like people movers such as the Honda Odyssey.

“It would potentially be a new niche for Subaru but without having seen the full spec it would be difficult to categorise it,” Rowley says.

“In Subaru's unique way I would say it is potentially a new niche vehicle.”

Spy photos of the Exiga production vehicle indicate that it is very close to the show concept unveiled at the Tokyo Motor Show last year.

“I would say that the front looks a little more rounded ... a little more conventional than on the show car,” Rowley says. “Not unlike the current Outback, in a way.”

Early reports out of Japan suggest that the 2.0-litre four-cylinder boxer turbo engine from the Forester will feature prominently in the Exiga. That will give the car a decided performance edge over other family-friendly people movers or crossover SUVs.

Output is expected to match that of the Forester XT's 169kW and 320Nm. A naturally aspirated version will also be available producing 108kW mated to the Forester's four-speed automatic transmission with the turbo version getting an auto transmission with SI Drive similar to that available in the 2007 Legacy.

It is a given that the Exiga will also feature Subaru's signature all-wheel-drive technology.

The Exiga will be the first all-new model since the 2005 Tribeca 4WD. On size it will fit between Forester and Liberty and Outback; the next generation of which is expected in Australian showrooms around August next year.

The show concept was built on what was essentially a development version of the next Liberty and Outback platform, slightly longer at 4780mm than the current cars.

With a height of 1630mm and wheelbase of 2750mm, the interior appears to offer ample space for seven passengers with the option of making the second-row captains' seats and reducing the load to six. It also appears from spy shots that the massive glass “panorama roof” on the show concept may survive into production.