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Subaru Outback turbo confirmed! 2023 arrival for XT grade, but will XV and Forester follow suit with turbocharged WRX levels of grunt?

The 2023 Subaru Outback will see big changes, but the most important could be the new turbo engine!

It is finally happening - after years of waiting, there will be a turbo-petrol version of the Subaru Outback in 2023.

The company has confirmed it will offer the new 2023 Subaru Outback XT grade next year, with production of the Japan-built SUV-wagon-crossover model commencing in the fourth quarter of this year.

Blair Read, managing director of Subaru Australia, indicated that the long-awaited turbocharged Outback is going to play an important role in the model mix, extending the excitement beyond the brand’s other performance-oriented cars.

“Following on from WRX and BRZ, the excitement doesn’t stop. We are very pleased to announce the Subaru Outback range will gain the 2.4-litre turbo engine from the 2023 model year,” said Mr Read.

The 2.4 XT Outback will feature the 2.4-litre turbo direct-injection engine, which is the same power unit used in the new-generation WRX. However, it isn’t clear if the Outback’s version will have the same outputs as the WRX, at 202kW and 350Nm, or the different tune used in the North American-market Outback, which has a 2.4 turbo that churns out 194kW and 375Nm.

Currently, the Outback range is solely available with a 2.5-litre non-turbo petrol engine producing 138kW and 245Nm, so no matter what tune the new Outback XT runs with, it’ll be a sizeable bump over the current crop. Don’t expect it to gain the six-speed manual option of the WRX, though - it’ll be a CVT auto only affair, with all-wheel drive standard, as you’d expect.

“Customers and press ask us all the time when it’s coming, and we’ve been working with our colleagues and friends in Japan, and we’re delighted we have been able to make it happen,” said Mr Read.

But that might not be where the XT badges end. The company has indicated that the 2.4-litre turbo boxer engine may wind up in more models - and it could spell the return of the XT badge (and hopefully the bonnet scoop, too) to the Forester.

“Work in progress - there’s nothing confirmed yet, but with the 2.4-litre turbo engine moving into the Outback, we know there is a desire there for customers in the Forester space. So it’s something we’ll keep working on,” said Mr Read.

“It’s hard to answer that at the moment,” he said, when asked if the turbo Forester would arrive in the current-generation model, which saw a mid-life facelift applied earlier this year.

So, could the performance-oriented big turbo engine also spread further in the range? The only other option in the model range is the Subaru XV small SUV. And it looks very likely we could see a more performance-oriented version of that car.

“As a brand, are we interested in something like that? I think where there’s an appetite for our customer base, for Subaru owners to look at those types of products… 

“For the brand, we’ve got the big ‘performance’ aspect, and the big ‘SUV’ aspect. So to look at how we blend those two - obviously we are interested,” said Mr Read.

The current generation of Subaru XV (and the Impreza that it is based on) is the oldest product in the Subaru line-up, and it is possible we will see a new-generation version of the car later in 2022.

“Out of the model range, it’s the one that’s due next,” said Mr Read.