A performance version of the Subaru XV small SUV is high on Subaru Australia's wishlist, with the Japanese brand's local distributor keen to capitalise on its strong reputation for both high-riding wagons and sporty cars.
Speaking to TMR at the local launch of the WRX STI, Subaru Australia Product Planner Goran Popov said that adding a high-performance version of the XV was a natural choice.
“A performance version of the XV is something that is very much on my wishlist," Popov said.
However, while the XV's under-the-skin similarities to the recently-released WRX means a turbocharged 2.0 litre XV is not outside the realm of possibility, Popov said that there was no word from Subaru on whether such a variant would ever become reality.
The XV is currently only available with a naturally-aspirated 110kW/196 2.0 litre flat-four, with either a six-speed manual or CVT automatic taking power to all four wheels.
Though it only offers one powertrain and no cut-price 2WD variant, the XV (below) sits in second place in the small SUV rankings behind the Hyundai ix35, which has three engine choices - two petrol, one diesel - and 2WD as well as AWD drivetrains.
Substituting the XV's standard engine with the turbocharged 2.0L of the WRX would bring another 87kW of power and over 150Nm more torque. The Forester XT uses a similar powerplant to the WRX, but with only 177kW of power and no choice of a manual transmission.
"Subaru is about SUVs. We have SUVs in the small, medium and large segments, and the other very important part of the portfolio is the sporty and performance cars we offer," Subaru Australia Managing Director Nick Senior told TMR.
When asked whether there would be greater crossover (no pun intended) between those two segments in the future, Senior said that there was already evidence of demand for such products.
"I think we’re seeing it with the Forester XT already," Senior said.
"Let’s not forget the Forester XT has been very successful. We're selling roughly 200 XTs per month.
"We would like to see more sporty SUVs moving forward because I think that’s where customers are going to start looking in the future."
Subaru produced an STI-tuned version of the previous generation Forester, badged as the Forester S-Edition. Powered by the same 2.5 litre turbo engine of the WRX of the same vintage, the Forester S-Edition (below) had 193kW and 347Nm but was strictly a limited-run model.
While Subaru has yet to commit to adding more overtly performance-focussed SUVs to its vehicle line-up, there's good news on the horizon for Subaru fans looking for a more practical alternative to the WRX.
Senior says that the turbocharged Levorg performance wagon (below) is a strong candidate for the Australian market, though a business case has yet to be finalised.
"Levorg goes on sale this month in Japan," he said.
"We are up there in a couple of week's time to have some discussions, but there’s nothing decided about Levorg. Hopefully we’re getting it."
"If it does happen it’s not going to be in the short-term. To me it would be nice to have and I think there’s a market for it.
"We’re in line, putting our hand up, but we’ve got to put the business case together first."