Christmas has come early for Subaru fans with news two hybrid models will launch in the new year.

What the company describes as its “e-Boxer” powertain will make its debut in the Forester and smaller XV SUVs in March.

In fact, Subaru has already chalked up 500 sales to fleet customers, with ongoing “high interest” providing the impetus to have a crack at the private market.

The cars feature identical petrol-electric engines that importantly add a new dimension to the range and more choice for customers.

XV Hybrid offers a better than 7 per cent boost in fuel efficiency, while Forester offers more than 9 per cent compared to 2.5-litre petrol variants — both figures based on the industry standard combined cycle.

The Forester Hybrid AWD variant will launch in February priced from $39,990 while the XV Hybrid with an exclusive new colour called Blue Pearl will be priced from $35,580.

There will be one XV Hybrid AWD and two versions of the Forester: Hybrid L AWD and Hybrid S AWD.

Subaru Australia boss Colin Christie said the e-Boxer mild hybrid system models would be niche models initially.

“We’ve already got significant interest from fleet customers and also Subaru fans who have long indicated pent-up demand for new technology engine options,” he said.

The hybrid consists of a 2.0-litre horizontally opposed Boxer engine linked via Motor Assist to a high voltage lithium ion battery, offering fuel economy benefits, particularly in congested city driving.

The four cylinder 2.0-litre engine produces 110kW of power at 6000 rpm and 196Nm of torque at 4000 rpm and features the efficient intake/exhaust Active Valve Control System (AVCS).

The electric motor produces 12.3kW of power and 66Nm of torque, and is self-charging, via kinetic energy captured by regenerative braking and coasting.

The direct injection petrol engine, Motor Assist and battery combination are said to produce smooth, linear and responsive acceleration.

The e-Boxer logic adjusts the power split between petrol and electric to match driving conditions.

It automatically changes between three modes:

  • Motor Assist EV driving
  • Motor Assist electric (EV) + petrol engine driving, and;
  • Petrol engine driving

Depending upon vehicle and battery condition, it can operate in fully electric mode up to 40km/h.

When driving in fully electric mode, the Pedestrian Alert system emits a sound, to alert people in close proximity — up to a speed of 24 km/h.

At medium speeds, combined power from both the electric and petrol engine produce responsive, linear and more fuel efficient acceleration.

At high speed, the Boxer petrol engine exclusively powers the vehicle, while regenerative braking or coasting with foot off the accelerator, recharges the lithium ion battery.

The electric motor assist and battery pack are aligned longitudinally, with the motor located near the vehicle’s centre of gravity, while the battery and other components sit above the rear axle, also contributing to low centre of gravity and optimising front/rear weight distribution.

An unobtrusive cooling system draws air from the cabin to help maintain the battery at operating temperature and to help ensure better longevity.

Subaru’s Lineartronic Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT) is mated to the e-Boxer system for ultra-smooth power delivery and torque.

Motor Assist enhances X-Mode off-road capability, through better low speed torque control. 

All Subaru hybrids purchased by private buyers for private use offer a five year unlimited kilometre warranty, plus an eight-year 160,000 km warranty on the lithium battery.

Can’t wait to see how they incorporate the Boxer name in a fully electric model.

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Chris Riley has been a journalist for almost 40 years. He has spent half of his career as a writer, editor and production editor in newspapers, the rest of the time driving and writing about cars both in print and online. His love affair with cars began as a teenager with the purchase of an old VW Beetle, followed by another Beetle and a string of other cars on which he has wasted too much time and money. A self-confessed geek, he’s not afraid to ask the hard questions - at the risk of sounding silly.
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