A Suba dooper van

The seven-seater Subaru Ex­iga could be on our shores soon, write PETER LYON and PAUL GOVER

Herald Sun - Motoring - - News -

AMINIVAN with a dif­fer­ence is get­ting closer to show­rooms in Aus­tralia. The Subaru Ex­iga, which lines up clos­est to the Mazda CX-7 in a new-model show­down, is be­ing as­sessed for a lo­cal launch and has al­ready im­pressed the top man at Subaru Aus­tralia.

‘‘It is a cat­e­gory breaker. It ticks a num­ber of boxes and fol­lows the pat­tern set by the Forester and Out­back,’’ Nick Se­nior says.

‘‘We’re call­ing it a ver­sa­tile util­ity ve­hi­cle. It drives like one of our driver’s chan­nel cars, but is ver­sa­tile, with seven seats.’’

A first look at the all-new Ex­iga peo­ple mover in Ja­pan points to a stretched Out­back, and it does bor­row heav­ily from the Lib­erty, Im­preza and Forester.

But the Ex­iga is gen­uinely new, and taps the time of the orig­i­nal oil shocks in the 1970s. It is priced from about $45,000.

The first flat-four pow­ered mini­van to come along in 30 years could be the ideal car for its time.

The Ex­iga is slightly wider, longer and taller than the Out­back, the ex­tra roof height en­sur­ing third-row pas­sen­gers get plenty of head­room.

Its 80mm-longer wheel­base also aids in max­i­miz­ing rear seat legroom, and in a car that is less than 10mm longer than the Out­back.

Hav­ing botched sev­eral ex­te­rior de­signs big-time, in­clud­ing the 2000 bug-eyed Im­preza, Subaru de­cided to play it safe with the Ex­iga.

The ba­sic shape will date quickly and the only re­deem­ing fea­tures are its wing-in­spired grille, large sun­roof and wide rear-door win­dows with su­perb vis­i­bil­ity.

But it is a su­perbly as­sem­bled jig­saw puzzle of the very best Subaru tech­nol­ogy, pick­ing up the front end of the Forester with a new tail and the Im­preza’s dou­blewish­bone sus­pen­sion.

The Forester also do­nated its en­gine, and the five-speed au­to­matic with SI-Drive and brakes comes from the Lib­erty.

Ride qual­ity and com­fort lev­els, too, are in class-lead­ing ter­ri­tory.

Subaru orig­i­nally built the Ex­iga for Ja­pan. Subaru US de­cided it would be too small, but Aus­tralia is keen and Se­nior is push­ing.

In­flu­ence: the Ex­iga bor­rows heav­ily from the Lib­erty, Im­preza and Forester.

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