The homegrown Ford Territory is to get a bigger and tougher new rival from Japan, reports PAUL GOVER.
SUBARU says the Broadmeadows hero is one of the targets for its all-new Outback wagon, which has just been unveiled in the US as the sidekick to the new Liberty.
The Outback will look a little different by the time it gets to Australia, but the basics – and particularly a bigger new cabin and an enlarged 3.6 litre engine – will be the same.
“The Outback displayed at the New York show is obviously for the US,” Subaru Australia managing director Nick Senior says. “Some styling cues we won’t see here – the overt SUV stuff. Ours is probably a little more restrained.”
The Outback will join the Liberty here in September. Both are crucial, Senior says. “They are both important,” he says. “I think, from a brand point of view, Subaru has been defined by the Liberty.
“This is 20 years. It’s two decades of Liberty and in that time it’s had strong customer advocacy and a lot of awards.
“We are going to play in an important segment of the market. It’s a new car and it addresses some of the issues raised in customer feedback.
“One of those is interior room, so it’s a lot roomier and a lot more fuel-efficient.”
Early details of the Outback point to a car with a longer wheelbase, bigger cabin, improved ground clearance, power of 190kW from the 3.6 litre six, and a six-speed manual on the four and six.
The basic body is stiffer, just like the Liberty, which should mean improved safety and less noise inside.
“The Outback, again, has significantly more interior space, particularly rear legroom,” says Senior, before pointing to a Ford challenge with the car.
“That opens the opportunity for us, particularly in Australia, to look at conquest sales.
“And not just from our traditional competitors but potentially from some of the local manufacturers.
“We’ll have a 3.6 litre engine fed by normal unleaded and, particularly in rural areas, that is where I see an opportunity.”
The arrival of the 2009 Outback and Liberty will begin Subaru’s diesel drive in Australia. The Outback diesel should be ready by November.
“The effort has gone into getting an Outback here first because our belief is a diesel SUV has the most potential. That will be followed by a Forester diesel next year,” Nick Senior says. “Then we will turn our eyes to the passenger vehicle range.”