Sales of small SUVs in New Zealand are whittling away at those of small passenger cars, statistics that Subaru NZ managing director Wallis Dumper believes will provide new opportunities for the company’s next-generation XV model.
“Small SUVs will in the next three to five years outsell small passenger cars,” he said. “It might be quicker than that because the trend towards SUVs seems to be accelerating.”
Demand for both small and medium SUVs continues to grow in 2016, with a combined 21,592 units registered at the end of last month compared with 16,218 small and medium passenger cars. Small passenger car sales so far this year are running 3.5 per cent down on the same period last year. Medium cars are down too.
The all-wheel-drive XV is expected in NZ around the middle of next year and is the second vehicle to be built on the company’s new global platform. The next-generation Impreza – due here in February – is the first.
Dumper says the shift towards SUVs from passenger cars will create growth potential for the XV. “The small car segment is usually a heavy discount area, and when people migrate from it to the small SUV segment they recalculate what they want to spend,” he said.
“We’ve always tried to be one of the aspirational brands in that area with the two litre XV. It’s a large small car, if there is such a thing. It’s bigger than much of its opposition, especially the internal dimensions. So it has the potential to compete against smaller rivals.”
The new XV comes with the same SUV credentials as the current model – essentially a taller body on the Impreza hatchback platform, with extra cladding here and there and a bright palette of colours.
Subaru previewed the XV production model with a concept at the Geneva show earlier this year. But it has yet to release any new details, other than it’s an evolutionary design with a more rugged look, helped by a new grille, new front and rear bumpers, new cladding designs, wheel-arch extensions and chunkier wheels.
XV will continue to share many mechanical and technical details of the Impreza and WRX. Expect the same 110kW/196Nm 2.0-litre boxer four engine and continuously variable transmission, or, in Subaru-speak, Lineartronic.