New York Motor Show: Subaru Ascent concept revealed

New seven-seat SUV on Australia’s wish list, but American-only model is unlikely to be sold here

Subaru Ascent Concept

Subaru has revealed its largest car in the form of the seven-seat Ascent concept, a more fleshed-out version of last year’s Viziv 7 concept and the basis for an all-new large SUV that will arrive in American showrooms in late 2017.

The large SUV is a car Subaru Australia desperately wants but it almost certainly won’t get because there are no plans to tool up the US factory that makes the Ascent for right hand drive production.

Stepping in for the Tribeca that was primarily designed for America but also sold in Australia, the Ascent is longer, wider and taller that the car it effectively replaces, creating a spacious three-row wagon to compete with the Toyota Kluger, Nissan Pathfinder and Mazda CX-9.

It’s a car Subaru America describes as critical to its plans to step existing Subaru owners with expanding families into a larger vehicle.

“This car will allow us to get penetration into the three-row SUV segment, which is going to be growing with a lot of millennial people forming their families and having children … it’s a huge segment,” said Subaru America president and CEO Tom Doll.

2017 Subaru Ascent Rear Side Static Jpg

“We have a lot of younger people that are attracted to our performance [products], like WRX and STI … Impreza does well and so does Forester … they can’t stay with us … now we’ve got a vehicle they can move to.”

The concept car featured familiar modern Subaru design themes, including distinctive headlights that evolve the look of the new Impreza, as well as a fresh interior that incorporates a sweeping touchscreen and a gear selector reminiscent of those used on hybrid Toyotas.

The Ascent is powered by a new 2.4-litre four-cylinder boxer turbo with direct injection, an engine family likely to find its way into other Subarus, including, possibly, the yet-to-be-revealed next generation WRX and STI.

While the Ascent is smack-bang in the middle of family SUV territory it’s unlikely to ever be sold in Australia.

In revealing the Ascent concept Subaru executives reiterated the line that the car is being produced solely for the American market.

Subaru Australia reiterated that thought in a short press release that in part stated: “The three-row midsize SUV is under development exclusively for the North American market.”

However, Subaru Australia has been told in the past it could not get certain models, including the three-row Liberty Exiga, a car that eventually arrived in local dealerships.


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