The Japanese manufacturer's first sports-utility vehicle boasts bold styling and can be had as either a five- or seven-seater
21 January 2005

Subaru describes its all-new B9 Tribeca as a "progressive SUV that offers agility, stability and versatility". Most of the observers at the Detroit unveiling also described it as unnecessarily ugly, mostly thanks to Subaru’s controversial new corporate nose design.

The B9 is based on a stretched Legacy platform – its 2748mm wheelbase is 76mm longer than the Legacy estate – and can accommodate up to seven passengers, although the third row is more suitable for children. The middle row of seats can slide backwards and forwards. The 250bhp 3.0-litre flat-six engine drives Subaru’s signature permanent 4x4 system through a five-speed automatic transmission. The company says it has developed a new double wishbone rear suspension set-up. The Tribeca’s new body structure is 50 per cent stiffer than the new Legacy estate.

Headed up by ex-Alfa Romeo designer Andreas Zapatinas, Subaru’s design team has developed a new corporate look for the B9 and says that the two ‘wings’ that flank the central air intake "relate to the history of Subaru as an aircraft manufacturer". And there’s more than a passing resemblance to the Porsche Cayenne in the headlamps.

Saab will also be building a version, the 9-6X, which also goes on sale in the US later this year. Both cars will be built at Subaru’s US plant in Lafayette. A decision on exporting the cars globally will be made this month, although Saab hopes to sell the car in UK.

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