SUBARU and Volkswagen are set to go head-to-head in the fight for fast families with a couple of highpowered wagons priced under $60K and due in Australia this year. The Subaru Levorg and Volkswagen Golf R wagons promise serious five-second performance thanks to hot-hatch drivetrains and all-wheel-drive underpinnings, with more luggage space to boot.
The first hot hauler to market will be the Subaru Levorg GT-S revealed at the 2013 Tokyo show. Despite the name, it ain’t a Star Trek villain. It’s effectively a WRX-powered successor to the Liberty GT wagon, though the
front and rear-end styling has been amped to separate it from the current mum-and-dad Liberty sedan, even if it misses out on the WRX’s wheelarch blisters.
This grunty wagon, which sits on the same platform as the Impreza and Liberty duo, will pack a 211kW/400Nm punch courtesy of the WRX’s 2.0-litre turbo unit, matched up to a ‘Sport Lineartronic’ CVT auto (also sourced from the WRX, including its specific Sports# setting) for a mid-five-second 0-100km/h time.
Not to be outdone, VW’s Golf R wagon – a spiritual successor to the R36 Passat estate – will have even more beans, with 221kW on tap from its 2.0-litre unit. While its 380Nm is 20Nm short of the Levorg’s, it should still be quicker to 100km/h thanks to its sharper six-speed DSG auto. It won’t be offered as a manual, so purists look away now.
Both cars will sport all-wheel drive, go-fast looks and more space than their hatchback stablemates, but at a cost. At $60K, they will be the most expensive versions of their respective body styles.
The two heavy-hitting kiddie haulers won’t have the wild wagon market to themselves. They’ll be up against the cheaper, almost as fast and roomier $55K Holden Commodore SS V Sportwagon, which has the muscle to cover 0-100km/h – complete with baby seat – in a Wheels-tested 5.7sec.
There’s also a potential threat from Ford with its rapid Focus ST wagon sold in Europe and North America. It’s powered by a 184kW, 2.0-litre turbocharged four, and is a natural rival to the Levorg and Golf R, but Ford Oz says it has no intention of bringing it here because, ironically, it’s available only with a manual gearbox.
VW Australia is keen to have the Golf R estate in Aussie showrooms and is currently arguing the business case with head office at Wolfsburg in Germany.
Subaru Australia has made it clear that it wants the Levorg GT-S as a Liberty GT successor. Trouble is, the Levorg’s success in Japan means the factory cannot keep up with demand. That’s why we have to wait until late 2016 for the new hero wagon to make it into local dealerships. Fingers crossed VW doesn’t have a similar problem with the popular Golf R.
SUBARU will bring back its worstselling nameplate – Tribeca – by 2017 with a three-row SUV that will follow the styling direction of the Viziv 2 concept (above). Subaru sees Tribeca as crucial to achieving its goal of 600,000 sales in the US by 2016, which looks feasible given its record 513,693 in 2014 and annual growth since 2008, when it sold 187,699.