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by Tim Beissmann

The seven-seat Volkswagen CrossBlue SUV will make the transition from concept to production when it launches in North America in 2016.

Production confirmation of Volkswagen’s largest SUV has been expected since the CrossBlue concept debuted 12 months ago at last year’s Detroit auto show, and was made official today by CEO Martin Winterkorn at this year’s event.

“I’m delighted to confirm what so many have been waiting so long to hear: Volkswagen’s mid-size SUV for America is on its way,” Winterkorn announced, adding that development work on the seven-seater has already begun ahead of its launch in under three years’ time.

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Volkswagen has made no mention of right-hand-drive production plans at this stage, however, meaning the Mazda CX-9 rival is unlikely to arrive in Australian showrooms until late this decade at the earliest, if at all.

Volkswagen says the CrossBlue-inspired SUV has been “designed specifically for North America”, and overseas reports suggest it is not expected to reach European showrooms before 2019.

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The 5.0m-long Volkswagen CrossBlue concept is larger than the German manufacturer’s existing 4.4m Tiguan and 4.8m Touareg SUVs, but is expected to be priced somewhere in between to make it more accessible to big families.

Based on the Volkswagen Group’s versatile MQB platform – the same one that underpins the Golf Mk7 – the all-wheel-drive CrossBlue concept featured a plug-in hybrid drivetrain comprising a diesel engine, two electric motors, a lithium-ion battery and a six-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission.

Volkswagen said the vehicle’s platform supports hybrid systems as well as conventional petrol and diesel powertrains.

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The six-seat concept claimed 335 litres of boot space with all three seating rows in place, 812L with the third row folded, and almost 2000L with the middle bench also pushed forwards.

Winterkorn said the all-new SUV would be a vital part of its ambitious goal to increase sales of Volkswagen and Audi vehicles in the US from just over 600,000 in 2013 to one million by 2018.

Volkswagen Group sales have almost doubled in the US since 2008.




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