Subaru Exiga

With a potent flat-four engine and all-wheel drive, seven-seat mpv brings something new to the class.

Overall Auto Express Rating

4.0 out of 5

While the jury’s out on the styling, there’s no doubting the Exiga’s function. The cabin is bright and airy, and the seating spacious and versatile. The chassis impresses, too: with its quick responses, smooth ride and stability at speed, this Subaru is a serious driver’s machine. It’s just a shame that dealers in the UK are having to wait to see if they will be allowed to stock the car. With sales of the Tribeca SUV extremely low, the addition of this model could prove a welcome shot in the arm.

Believe it or not, you are looking at a world first! Tired of criticism for lacklustre design and an unimaginative product line-up, Subaru has gone back to the drawing board to create this – the first flat-four-engined MPV.

Taking its styling inspiration from the recently revised Legacy, the Exiga is wider, longer and taller than the Outback, and seats seven over three rows. The jury is still out on the looks: with clumsy lights and a profile that will surely soon date, its redeeming features are its wing-inspired grille, large sunroof and huge windows, which offer superb visibility.

Yet this model is a superbly built jigsaw of Subaru’s best technology. With class-leading four-wheel drive plus superb gearboxes and suspension, it can’t fail to impress. While the rear section is all-new, the platform from the B-pillar forward is shared with the Forester, as is the 2.0-litre turbo. This is linked to the Legacy’s five-speed auto.

With 223bhp and 326Nm of torque, the car is no slouch. The Exiga weighs 140kg more than the 2.5-litre Outback, but it gets the power down efficiently. It corners with less body roll than the Ford S-MAX, and ride quality and comfort levels are in class-leading territory, as well.

Interior trim and quality are satisfactory, but the highlight is the theatre-style seating. To boost visibility the second-row chairs are 70mm higher than the fronts, with the third row 70mm higher still. The lengthy sunroof adds to the airy feeling.

The cabin is practical, too. One-touch switches on the second and third-row seats allow you to drop the backs, creating a fully flat luggage space big enough to accommodate a double bed.

The Exiga is currently slated for sale only in Japan, with one insider suggesting it would be too small for the UK. But given that Brits are downsizing in record numbers, Subaru might have to rethink its marketing plans – and quickly.

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