New Zealand is one of only three countries that will get a special, higher-riding Subaru Legacy variant powered by a 3.6-litre six-cylinder boxer engine.

The 2013 model sedan rides 60mm higher than the standard model and was unveiled at the Beijing motor show. It will go on sale here and in Australia and China later in the year.

"This new Legacy variant will be ideal for Kiwi rural roads," said Subaru NZ managing director Wallis Dumper.

"We have a huge percentage of unsealed surfaces and the extra ride height adds to its capability in regional and rural areas.


"Another key aspect is that the hip point is 70mm higher than the current sedan, making entry and exit easier, which should really suit some of those traditional (Holden) Calais and (Ford) Fairmont drivers who you witness climbing out of their 'gravel-rashed' vehicles in most rural communities."

On the outside, the Legacy gets a new grille, front bumpers, and sporty sills with chrome-type highlights, and exclusive 18-inch wheels. Interior changes include black metal-type centre panel, centre console and steering switch panel, while the electronic park brake and SI-Drive switches are relocated for easier use.

Dumper said the decision to limit sales to three countries "recognises the unique road conditions experienced in these countries".

"Obviously our all-wheel-drive Legacy is a great choice for these conditions and the new variant with its extra ground clearance makes an even stronger case, plus it provides a suitable environment for the farming executive of today.

"We see its main market to be in rural areas, but it will also be ideal for those with tricky driveways, those who travel with trailers, boats and caravans, or just those who want a sedan where you can sit a bit higher."

The new Legacy will initially be available in NZ with the 3.6-litre engine, although the smaller 2.5-litre unit might appear at a later date.

Dumper said that while other Legacys in the range will retain their existing ride height, some enhancements in the new variant will be shared by other Legacys in the year-13 line-up when it goes on sale later this year.

"This new variant gives us another [chance] to bring something different to market and judging by the success of ... the XV and Impreza; we can see a lot of potential," said Dumper.