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Motoring Top Stories

Subaru confirms hybrid Forester, more special editions for Australia

Wheels Magazine logo Wheels Magazine 11/09/2018 Daniel Gardner
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SUBARU Australia has laid out a rough roadmap that plots its course to alternative energy over the next five years, including the arrival of hybrid power as early as next year, followed by its first pure EV.

The alternative energy momentum was initiated for Subaru in 2013 by the reveal of its Crosstrek Hybrid – essentially a mild hybrid version of the XV and only offered in the US and Japan – but a new version which was unveiled earlier this year will start the flow to Australia.

At an as yet unconfirmed point, it will be joined by a second hybrid in the Forester line-up, with both gracing Australian showrooms before the decade is out.

Speaking to Wheels, Subaru Australia managing director Colin Christie confirmed hybrid models were set to make their debut Down Under.

“Certainly by the end of 2020 I expect to have two hybrids in market,” he said. “Forester and XV.”

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The hybrid Forester dubbed the e-Boxer is already silently running on Japanese roads but Christie explained it would take time before a version was ready for sale in Australia.

“We have our own specification in Australia and there’s a lot of testing that goes into ride and handling, but yes there is a Forester hybrid and we are working with Japan now about how and when we bring that in.”

Christie confirmed that the pair of hybrids would not be plug-in, and that the company would leapfrog PHEVs to pave the way for its first fully electric models

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“The hybrids we are talking about are mild hybrids not plug-ins, but fully electric vehicles … somewhere in the next five years potentially, we’ll have electric vehicles.”

Subaru’s proprietary Global Platform, which was heralded by the Impreza, was specifically designed to allow electrification and will roll out to all models in the coming years. It currently underpins the Impreza, XV and Forester.

As the Japanese manufacturer heads towards its electrified destiny, it will with special editions for selected models, resisting the urge to follow many other mainstream car makers into sportier branded ‘lines’.

Examples include Renault’s GT-Line, Mercedes AMG Line, Audi’s S Line and the ST-Line from Ford, but Christie says a strategy of regular enhanced special editions works better for the Subaru range.

“We’ve got a couple of special editions that are rolling out in a couple of models next month,” he said. “Special editions are a big thing for us.

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“They allow you to just tweak things and offer different variants and different elements. Special editions have always been a massive part of our brand.”

The company’s STI variants will continue to represent the peak of Subaru performance, but Christie said sub STI specials were on the way and hinted at the model lines they will infiltrate.

“We’ve got quite strict rules about how we message those. STI has to be the top of the tree for enhanced performance etcetera. That’s part of our special edition strategy so we might release a special edition called a Sport for Impreza but they all have to fit very specific rules to be called that.

“Sport is one that we will do more of. Maybe an XV Sport and Impreza Sport, maybe down the track a Forester Sport. That’s probably as far as we’ll go with it.”

a car parked on the side of a road © Wheels Staff

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