Yesterday, we broke the news of Fuji Heavy Industries (FHI) and Tan Chong Group signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to assemble Subaru vehicles in Malaysia, making our country the regional production hub for the brand. Production will start in October 2012 at 5,000 units per year, and the vehicle in question will be a “compact SUV”. We figured that Subaru wouldn’t have categorised its Forester as “compact”, so it has to be another model.

Well, we can now confirm that the compact SUV in question is NOT the Forester, but the production version of the Subaru XV Concept. Making its debut at this year’s Shanghai show, the XV Concept is billed as a crossover “blending exceptional SUV practicality with a fashionable form”.

While the XV’s shape looks similar to the Impreza hatchback’s at a glance, its front and rear styling is unique. The Shanghai show car measured 4,450 mm long and had a 2,635 mm wheelbase, figures that are 35 mm and 15 mm longer than the Impreza hatch, respectively. Not sure if the production car will stick to this, but we see similarities between the XV’s relationship to the five-door Impreza and Suzuki’s SX4/Swift models.

The CKD XV is part of FHI and Motor Image’s big plans for the ASEAN region. While Subaru doesn’t have much of a presence in Malaysia at present with just two sales and distribution outlets, that’s going to change with 18 outlets planned through 2013. This means that by 2014, Malaysia will have 20 Subaru outlets if all goes to plan.

Following the same timeline, Indonesia will get 20 new outlets while Thailand will have 22. Both these right-hand drive countries will be importing the Malaysian assembled XV under AFTA rules.

Motor Image, which is part of the Tan Chong Group, sold 2,300 Subarus in ASEAN last year, but will be targeting much higher figures from next year – the company expects to increase revenues by over 10 fold within the first year of introducing the XV in Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia.

Full gallery of the Subaru XV Concept is after the jump. Watch this space for updates.

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