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by Tim Beissmann

The Subaru Outback will become the Japanese brand’s first vehicle to be offered with a diesel engine/automatic transmission combination in Australia when the new wagon variant arrives in March.

The car maker’s new Lineartronic continuously variable transmission (CVT) will be available as an option to the standard six-speed manual gearbox on the 2013 Subaru Outback 2.0D and 2.0D Premium variants.

Subaru Australia managing director Nick Senior said the company was expecting “a very strong order bank” for the Outback 2.0D CVT based on the popularity of the manual.

“Diesel manual Outback now represents around 20 per cent of the model’s sales, so we’re anticipating significant demand for the auto,” Senior said.

Embracing the grille, front bumper, foglight and wheel pattern updates applied to the rest of the 2013 Subaru Outback range, the entry-level Outback 2.0D comes standard with satellite navigation, while the 2.0D Premium adds an electric sunroof, leather upholstery, eight-way power driver’s seat with memory function, and electroluminescent gauges with colour information display.

A diesel auto has been a long time coming for Subaru Australia. By the time the CVT version arrives, it will have been three and a half years since the brand launched its first diesel-powered model – the Outback 2.0D manual – which itself was late to the party, arriving in November 2009.

Subaru is yet to confirm pricing for the new diesel auto variants, although the optional CVT is expected to add around $2000 to the price of the manual versions of the $39,990 Outback 2.0D and $42,990 Outback 2.0D Premium.