No great sales heights expected from descent Down Under, though
The big new Subaru Ascent seven-seat SUV may be no closer to an Australian debut, but the company's local boss says he'd welcome it with open arms.
At the Australian launch of its much smaller stablemate the 2017 Subaru XV, managing director Colin Christie said the Ascent would make a fitting complement to the brand's SUV line-up here.
"We're in constant conversation with Subaru about a whole series of things from a product planning point of view. The Ascent is definitely one we're talking to them about. But, at this point in time, there is no indication we'll get that product; it is definitely designed [to be] built in the American plant, only as a left-hand-drive offering.
"But, if it ever became available to us, it's certainly something we'd be interested in."
Still, even if the Ascent were to descend Down Under, Christie doesn't see it as a volume rival to the likes of the Toyota Kluger or Mazda CX-9. The Kluger managed 1195 sales in May, while the CX-9 found 770 homes.
"The way we'd look at it, and similar to the Tribeca we had a while ago, is that it's more of a complementary product for the range. I don't think it'd be massive sales volume for us if we could get it. To be honest, we haven't even done the work to look at it, because, at this stage, we're not getting the car.
In Christie's view, the Ascent would work best as a means of keeping buyers in the Subaru 'family' as they move through a lifecycle that, for some, includes upsizing to a seven-seat family hauler before downsizing again into the 'empty nester' phase.
"At the moment, [those buyers are] potentially leaving the brand, and then it's obviously more difficult to get them back in as they downsize again down the road. So, definitely a complementary product rather than an out-and-out volume seller."
"But, to be honest, they don't represent a huge amount. I think, though, that's probably because they already know we don't have one or they've gone online and found we don't have one. We don't get a huge amount of feedback from dealers that customers are coming in looking for a seven-seater."
For now, Subaru will be hoping most families' needs are being served by the five-seat Outback. With 1195 sales in May, and 5045 for the year to the end of May, it is comfortably one of the best-selling models in the large SUV segment.