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It’s official: Subaru B9 just 15 months away!

Subaru sooner: the B9 SUV arriving later next year will have a slightly different nose to this.

Subaru Australia confirms the brand’s first full-size SUV will be here earlier than expected

13 Jul 2005

SUBARU Australia has confirmed the seven-seater B9 Tribeca four-wheel drive wagon will go on sale here around October 2006 – three months earlier than expected.

A green light for right-hand drive production of Subaru’s first full-size 4WD had been keenly sought by Subaru Australia, the world’s third-largest market behind the United States and Japan.

Managing director Nick Senior confirmed the news at the facelifted Forester launch last week.

"We’re delighted to confirm today that a right-hand drive version of the B9 will join our stable around Sydney motor show time in 2006," he said.

"We will conduct some local testing of the car later this year and, judging by the rapturous reception B9 has had in North America, we can’t wait to get it on sale here.

"(Subaru’s 4WD) presence will grow even further next year when we introduce the fifth major model in the Subaru line-up." Originally not expected on sale here before 2007, the B9 went on sale last month in the United States, where it proved more popular than expected by attracting around 1600 customers.

It is a vehicle Subaru Australia has fought for since it appeared at this year’s Detroit motor show, as is considered a vital stepping stone for current Forester and Outback customers.

It also represents significant sales potential for Subaru in the booming 4WD market as a competitor for luxury contenders such as BMW’s X3, Lexus’ RX330, Volkswagen’s Touareg and Volvo’s XC90.

It will also compete against entry-level versions of BMW’s top-selling X5 and the forthcoming second-generation Mercedes-Benz M-class, as well as top-end Ford Territory variants.

To be positioned above Subaru’s Liberty/Outback range, which currently tops out with the $58,990 GT variant, B9 will span a price range that opens in the $60,000s for the entry-level five-seater B9 to about $80,000 for the fully-loaded seven-seater.

Forester and Outback models have played a significant role in Subaru’s nine consecutive years of sales growth in Australia and combine to give the premium Japanese brand a 25 per cent share of the compact SUV segment here.

But the larger B9 would prevent "leakage" to other brands once customers out-grew those models.

"The only thing we lack is a seven-seater," Mr Senior told GoAuto. "When families have kids and they become teenagers we get a lot of leakage from the brand, especially from Forester and Outback.

"Once they have three or four big kids they have to go to another brand.

"We tend to get them back eventually and Forester has a very diverse customer base, but that’s why B9 is so important to us and why we’re so excited about it.

"B9 will allow us to keep them in the Subaru family from day one," he said.

B9 is expected to provide significant incremental sales volume for Subaru Australia, which this year expects to sell 35,000 vehicles to make 2005 its 10th consecutive year of sales growth in Australia.

2 center imageAt the halfway mark of 2005, Subaru had sold 19,073 vehicles to be up 8.75 per cent on the same period in 2004. Forester attracted an all-time monthly record of 1688 customers in June, despite a facelifted model being released this week.

While some B9 sales will be substitutional for Forester, Australia is likely to be the world’s largest right-hand drive B9 market – eclipsing the United Kingdom, Japan and South Africa.

It is believed this, and Subaru’s Australia’s strong ties with Subaru parent company Fuji Heavy Industries, played a vital role in right-hand drive B9 production being approved.

Rather than a factory operation, Subaru Australia is part of the British-based international automotive services group Inchcape PLC, which in Europe distributes and sells cars for Toyota, BMW and Ferrari, to name a few brands.

A Reuters report late in June revealed that profit margins eroding in Britain for Inchcape were being offset by record Subaru sales in Australia.

The report said Australia and New Zealand accounted for 16 per cent of Inchcape’s operating profit.

B9 up for an outback adventure - but BYO fuel

SUBARU’S B9 Tribeca employs a 186kW/296Nm 3.0-litre flat-six engine and a standard five-speed automatic transmission with Sportshift pseudo-manual mode.

Claimed to be a full 50 per cent stronger in torsional rigidity than the Outback station wagon, B9’s monocoque chassis architecture is suspended by coil spring struts up front and an all-new double wishbone rear suspension.

Vital statistics include a 2749mm wheelbase, 4822mm length, 1978mm width, 1686mm height and a commendable 213mm ground clearance.

Kerb weight is a relatively spritely 1925kg in seven-seat guise but fuel capacity is a puny 64 litres.

In the United States, B9 features an under-floor spare wheel, has a towing capacity of 907kg and is available with an accessory tow pack rated to 1587kg –around the same as Forester.

Read more:

First drive: B9 SUV a true Subaru

The Road to Recovery podcast series

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