Viziv a good look for NZ

The biggest-ever vehicle Subaru has built is desired by Subaru NZ – but its availability is a long shot.

ALTHOUGH he would to have it “from tomorrow”, Subaru New Zealand’s boss accepts the potential for our market seeing a production realisation of a family SUV concept just shown in America might be years away at best.

Wal Dumper sees the Viziv-7, a design study for a model that is seen as a successor to the troubled Tribeca – except on a larger, grander scale – would be perfect to meet the growing New Zealand demand for seven-seater sports utilities.

However, with Subaru indicating that the car is for now simply aimed at North America, with entry there planned for 2018, he says it would require the assistance of powerful friends – notably the brand’s Australian operation – to see it made available in right-hand-drive.

“If they wanted to pitch for it then it would make our case a lot stronger,” Dumper says.

Until – or unless – that happens, Viziv will be a long shot, even though it looks like being the only seven pew car that Subaru intends building, with the brand again reiterating that the next-size-down Outback is not determined suitable for expansion beyond a two-row seating capability.

That limitation has clearly not been a restriction on Outback’s popularity. It has been a huge success here, easily holding station as not only the No.1 selling Subaru but also performing as one of the top SUV choices.

The official line out of the Los Angeles motor show, where Viziv was unveiled, is that it is being solely built in the US and the US production line is only left hand drive. Dumper confirmed that, at the moment, “there’s no talk of it being in right-hand drive.”

One interesting spin: Dumper anticipates some of the new styling shown on Viziv – whose name, by the way, is a curious and oh-so-Japanese shorthand for ‘vision for innovation’ – will very likely transfer to a future product that Kiwis are going to experience.

He won’t say what that car will be, except to suggest the candidate is not the Outback, which is presumably due for a mid-life freshen around 2018.

Subaru NZ didn’t have an easy time in the seven-seat SUV sector when Tribeca was new: The Fuji offering suffered from having a thirsty engine, a cramped interior and – until a mid-life refresh brought whole new nose styling – awkward looks.

Ironically enough, the market has since started to retune to the basic concept that the car offered – for one, in this sector, has again become preferable to diesel - and Tribeca has since become a hot used item, Dumper observes.

Viziv has quite literally built on lessons learned from Tribeca, which lingered until 2013. Although Subaru calls this a mid-size model, at 5200mm long and more than two metres wide, it is a monster, with a wheel size to suit. The show car runs on 265/55 R21 rims.

Takeshi Tachimori, the Corporate Executive Vice President for brand owner Guji Heavy Industries, concurs it will be “the biggest Subaru vehicle ever.”

“We know customers in this segment want a full-sized vehicle.”

Powertrain and specification details have not been provided.

This is the third concept that Subaru has wheeled out with the Viziv name. The first was a smaller scissor door car seen at the Geneva motor show of 2013. Viziv 2 was the same kind of car but smaller and with more conventional styling.