Subaru celebrates 50-year anniversary

December 15th, 2008 by Darren Cottingham

2009 Subaru Impreza Sedan

Subaru has celebrated 50 years as a car manufacturer this year.

From basic beginnings with the Subaru 360 the company has now established itself as on of the top manufacturers of All Wheel Drive vehicles for the road. Subaru has its origins as an aircraft manufacturer between the two World Wars and then began producing scooters in the late 1940s. In 1953 Fuji Heavy Industries, Subaru’s parent company was formed from six companies. Subaru (“gathering together”) is the Japanese name for the six star constellation Pleiades, which provides the brand with its easily recognised identification.

Launched in 1958 the Subaru 360 was a simple, cost effective small car that met the needs of an emerging Japanese middle class as the country rebuilt after the Second World War. The engineering led company soon decided that flat four cylinder horizontally opposed engines suited its philosophy for compact front wheel drive vehicles with a low centre of gravity and the Subaru 1000 followed in 1965. This car immediately set Subaru apart offering a different solution to personal transportation from all its Japanese rivals who were still producing conventional front engined, rear wheel drive cars.

The 1000 morphed into the Subaru FF1 and then the first of a long line of Leone models. In 1972 the world’s first 4WD car, the Leone 4WD Station Wagon was launched. It had been relatively easy to graft the prop. shaft onto the back of the gearbox and take power to a rear axle unit. Until 1972, 4WD had only been used in large commercial or utilitarian vehicles produced for defence forces, farmers, mining and forestry operations. The concept was developed through the 70s and the first turbocharged Leone appeared in 1982. Subaru had also been testing its products in the world’s toughest rally, the Kenyan Safari with some success at a class level.

The first “full time” 4WD car with a centre differential, the Leone coupe was introduced in 1986. The company was also developing small cars with a difference and in 1987 launched the first electro continuously variable transmission in the Justy.

With the launch of the Legacy in 1989, Subaru established itself as a true producer of quality cars with world wide appeal. And to give the new model credibility a turbocharged model set a World 100,000 kms nonstop record at 223.3 km/h. In the 90s Subaru entered the World Rally Championship seriously gaining its first victory in New Zealand in 1993 with the Legacy RS. With the introduction of the more nimble Impreza the same year, the WRX started its iconic career winning the driver’s and manufacturer’s titles in 1995 with Colin McRae.

Further success followed with the late Possum Bourne winning eight national championships on both sides of the Tasman and three Asia — Pacific titles. Further World crowns were won in 2001 and 2003 with Richard Burns and Petter Solberg.

With its background in 4WD the introduction of the Outback in 1996 seems so logical now. The world’s first “cross over” vehicle bridged the gap between traditional 4WDs and an ordinary car, offering the comfort and refinement of the car with the ground clearance and traction of a 4WD. The Forester followed a year later into the growing market of SUVs.

Into the 21st century, Subaru has continued to develop and refine its symmetrical All Wheel Drive vehicles, with the latest development being the world’s first diesel boxer engine designed specifically for a passenger car.

2009 Subaru Impreza WRX here before Xmas

December 8th, 2008 by Darren Cottingham

Subaru WRX 09 fq

The 2009 Subaru Impreza WRX is arriving here in NZ this month and will be available in both sedan and hatch models. The updated WRX has received some turbo treatment for the 2009 model year and will now use the turbocharger previously reserved for the WRX STI, boost has been increased with power output now at 195kW with 343Nm of torque. The extra power translates to better performance numbers with a New Zealand specification 2009 WRX recently independently clocked at a blisteringly quick 5.31 seconds in a 0-100km/h acceleration test. Subaru is claiming these performance figures and a $46,490 price tag, give the 2009 WRX the “best bang for buck title” in NZ.

Improvements have also been made on the green side and fuel consumption is improved in the combined cycle from 10.7 l/100km to 10.4 l/100km, while carbon dioxide emissions are down from 252 g/km to 247 g/km.

Standard equipment now includes leather upholstery and a sunroof. The latest WRX can be identified with a new mesh grille, with WRX badges front and rear, red brake calipers, wider tyres, red stitch seating and steering wheel and WRX logos on the front seats. A 60/40 split/fold rear seat optimizes cargo carrying options.

The WRX’s intercooler capacity is up, to 14.0 kW, from 12.1 kW in the 08 model.  The bigger turbocharger has maximum boost of 103 kPa, up from 78 kPa. A revised exhaust system provides a 30 per cent reduction in gas flow restriction, to match the new turbocharger performance and increase engine power.  The coil springs, stabilizers and top mounts are stiffened and roll rigidity increased to improve maximum lateral G and turning ability.

Wheels and tyres were chosen to complement the suspension springs, damping and bushing. Tyres are increased in width to 225/45 from 205/50, benefitting grip and handling performance. The 2009 Impreza WRX is fitted with Dunlop SP Sport 01 225/45R17 tyres and 17 x 7 JJ alloy wheels.

The 09 Impreza WRX sedan maintains the five-star rating for occupant safety from the independent Australasian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP).

Keep your eyes peeled for the new 2009 WRX cruising a street near you soon.

Subaru Impreza WRC concept

December 2nd, 2008 by Darren Cottingham

GRID’s Subaru Impreza concept leaves the current model’s design in the dust


Subaru diesels arriving in NZ soon

November 28th, 2008 by Darren Cottingham

Subaru Legacy Sedan

Subaru is launching its first diesel engined cars, the Legacy 2.0D Euro and Outback 2.0D Euro, on the New Zealand market before Christmas. The efficient Boxer Diesel powered cars are two litre turbocharged and offer 110 kWs of power  and 350 Nm of torque.

With fuel consumption as low as 5.6 litres/100 kilometres (EC combined cycle measurement) — 50.4 mpg – and with CO2 emissions of just 148 g/km, the Legacy and Outback Diesel Euros offer advantages in economy while still boasts good prformance. The Legacy Euro sedan will accelerate to 100kmh in 8.7 seconds.

According to LTNZ registration and statistical data, the Legacy 2.0D Euro is the most efficient petrol or diesel AWD or 4WD vehicle available in New Zealand. And the Outback 2.0D Euro is the most efficient petrol or diesel SUV available on the local market. “These diesel engined cars give us entry into an area of the market we have never competed in before,” said Graeme Woodlands, the Managing Director of Subaru of New Zealand. “Diesel is becoming an increasingly important segment with sales growing from just under 10 percent last year to 15 percent of the total market this year.”

Woodlands expects Subaru will have diesel engined Foresters and Imprezas, which have only just been launched in Europe, available here late in 2009.

Both the Legacy and Outback are available with a five speed manual gearbox. The Euro designation reflects these models launch in Europe earlier this year, where diesel engined cars make up to 50 percent of all sales. As a result these diesel engined Subarus arrive in New Zealand with added specifications. Standard equipment includes heated front seats and a front windscreen de-icer which are sure to be a bonus in the colder regions of the country during the winter. The indicator/lights and wiper stalks are on the opposite side of the steering column to usual, reflecting their European specification.

The Legacy Diesel Euro sedan will sell for $41,490, the Legacy Diesel wagon for $42,990 and the Outback Diesel Euro for $44,990.  The three new diesel models have a price premium of $3,000 over the comparable base petrol model.

The all aluminum engine has been designed from the ground up by Subaru engineers. It is the first time a passenger car has been equipped with a boxer diesel engine. The maximum power of 110 kWs is at 3600 rpm, although the motor will rev to over 4500 rpm. The maximum torque of 350 Nm is achieved at 1800 rpm, for greater flexibility. Like any Subaru, these diesel engine models have All Wheel Drive with a symmetrical drive train.

Standard equipment includes heated front seats, power driver’s seat, electric power steering, telescopic steering column, 6 stack CD, MP3 audio input jack, cruise control, leather covered steering wheel, gear lever and handbrake, power windows and mirrors, climate air conditioning, trip computer and 60/40 split folding rear seats. There is a dual exhaust system, automatic headlights off, 17-inch alloy wheels, front fog lights, a roof spoiler and roof rails on the Legacy and Outback Wagons.

The diesel engined Subarus are expected in dealer showrooms in mid-December.

Subaru Impreza sedan arrives in NZ

October 31st, 2008 by Darren Cottingham

Subaru Impreza sedan rq

Subaru is expanding its All Wheel Drive Impreza range with the addition of naturally aspirated sedan versions in November.

The Impreza 2.0R and 2.0R Sport sedans complement the existing hatch variants and share the same safety credentials — a maximum 5-star crashworthiness rating for occupant safety from the Australasian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP) along with the maximum 4-star pedestrian ANCAP safety rating. Electronic stability control and six airbags, including curtain airbags, are standard on all models.

Subaru of New Zealand Managing Director, Graeme Woodlands, said: “Impreza sales have climbed by more than 10% since its launch 12 months ago and that has been without any sedans in the range.”We can only see that improving with the addition of the naturally aspirated sedan versions.We expect the Impreza 2.0R Sport sedan to be the more popular model like its hatch sibling.”

The base model Impreza 2.0R sedan features a good specification list for an entry level vehicle including; fulltime Symmetrical All Wheel Drive, 16-inch alloy wheels, six airbags including curtain airbags, electronic stability control, and ABS brakes with Electronic Brakeforce Distribution.

The Impreza 2.0R Sport sedan is differentiated externally by; 17-inch alloy wheels, dual exhaust system with chrome tail piper covers, a mesh sports grille, boot lid spoiler and a sports body kit. Inside, Impreza 2.0R Sport features sports seats, rear privacy glass and different cloth trim. Impreza 2.0R Sport adds six-stack CD player with 10 speakers, climate control air conditioning and leather-bound steering wheel with audio and cruise controls and a leather gearshift.

All naturally aspirated variants offer the choice of five-speed manual or four-speed SPORTSHIFT automatic transmissions. Both models are powered by a 2.0-litre 4-cylinder DOHC Boxer engine developing 110kW at 6,400 RPM and 196Nm of torque at 3,200 RPM.

The turbocharged Impreza WRX sedan is due for launch in December.

Pricing of equivalent Impreza sedans and hatches is identical, giving customers a direct choice between their preferred body style.

The Impreza sedan and hatch pricing is:

Impreza 2.0R manual $26,990
Impreza 2.0R automatic $27,990
Impreza 2.0R Sport manual $31,990
Impreza 2.0R Sport automatic $32,990

Subaru releases 20th Anniversary Impreza WRX STI

October 28th, 2008 by Darren Cottingham

Subaru Impreza 20th Ann fq

Subaru is celebrating 20 years of building low-mounted, boxer-powered, all-wheel-drive fun, with a new limited edition variant. The Subaru Impreza WRX STI 20th Anniversary edition doesn’t get too much in the way of modifications. The only major changes to the STI’s dynamics come from a new set of coilovers with retuned springs and shocks to offer a better ride, along with thicker front and rear anti-roll bars and a set of 18-inch rims to compliment the only available colour (white). Body mods are also kept to a minimum, with only a black lip spoiler and rear wing giving clues to the vehicles special status.

Naturally some unique badging is required, so in addition to leather Recaros with red stitching and a matching shift knob, a commemorative plaque on the center console and a new set of door sills let people know that the Impreza is one of the 300 limited edition examples.

Sales are limited to the Japanese domestic market with the Anniversary edition carrying a price tag of 4,126,500 yen ($81,200 NZ).

Impreza and Forester diesels debut

September 8th, 2008 by Darren Cottingham

Subaru Impreza 2.0D diesel

Subaru’s new 2-litre boxer diesel engine will appear for the first time in both the new Forester and Impreza at the 2008 Paris Motor Show (October 4-19).

Meanwhile, other highlights include a Subaru Impreza WRX2008 replica plus the Subaru R1e and G4e electric cars. There will also be a 50th Anniversary Display showcasing the original Subaru 360 minicar.

The world’s first horizontally-opposed diesel engine for a passenger car has won widespread praise for its refinement, smoothness, sharp throttle-response and outstanding fuel economy. It first appeared in the Legacy and Outback earlier this year.

Both the Forester and Impreza Boxer Diesels feature new six-speed manual gearboxes while the engine itself benefits from a new closed-type diesel particulate filter.
Such is the efficiency of the new engine that the Forester 2.0D boasts class-leading fuel economy and emissions.

The 5.25l/100km combined fuel economy and 167g/km of the Forester 2.0D X beats every other SUV on the market.

The Forester 2.0D produces 147 PS and 349Nm torque and the Impreza 150 PS and 349Nm — both at 3,600 rpm and 1,800 rpm respectively.

The new Forester Boxer Diesel goes on sale in the UK in late September and the Impreza Boxer Diesel in January 2009. Expect the models to reach New Zealand late 2009.

30-mile McRae convoy smashes world records

September 2nd, 2008 by Darren Cottingham

colin-mcrae-tribute-convoy-2

More than 1000 Subaru owners and thousands more fans have celebrated the life of Colin McRae this weekend.

A convoy, which at its peak stretched 30 miles with an estimated 1100 Subaru cars, left Colin’s home town of Lanark on Saturday morning, led by his father Jimmy McRae.  Nine hours and 300 miles later, it arrived at Prodrive’s headquarters in Banbury, having been cheered along the way by thousands of fans who stood on every available motorway bridge on route.

“Literally every bridge had people waving and cheering us along with many hanging the Saltire from the railings.” said Grant Hendry, who led the McRae Gathering convoy. “It turned what was an already memorable event into a truly amazing and emotional occasion.”

The convoy re-gathered at Prodrive’s headquarters in Banbury on Sunday morning, before being led up the M40 by Colin McRae’s original 1996 Impreza rally car.  In a fitting finale to the event, a sign almost half a mile long and made up of 1086 Subarus spelt out COLIN MCRAE and the Scottish Saltire in a new official Guinness World Record — smashing the previous record by more than 800 cars.  The cars then broke a second Guinness World Record by creating the largest parade of cars as they left the Prodrive test track.

It is estimated that the event has raised nearly £40,000 ($103,000) for the McRae charities.