Subaru celebrates 50 years of its iconic boxer engine
Subaru’s iconic boxer engine is 50 year old this week. But in which of its cars was it first featured? Find out now…
Subaru is best known for two main traits: all-wheel drive vehicles and horizontally-opposed boxer engines. This week, the latter is celebrating its 50th anniversary.
Having debuted way back in May 1966 in a Subaru 1000, Subaru’s boxer engine is now a signature feature in all the cars it sells outside of Japan. Even in the Japanese Domestic Market Subaru only offers one non-boxer car: the Justy, which is a small hatchback actually designed and built under contract by Daihatsu.
In Australia, for example, Subaru sells car that boast naturally-aspirated petrol, turbo petrol and turbo diesel engines, in horizontally-opposed four- and six-cylinder setups.
The boxer name comes from the physical design of the engine, which sees the pistons facing each other in a side-to-side symmetrical layout, and as they move in an out they look like a boxer throwing jabs.
Subaru says that its boxer engines are shorter in length; have less vibration; and have better internal balance because the boxer configuration sees opposing pistons cancelling out the inertia force of one another.
According to Subaru, it has sold 16 million vehicles with boxer engines over the past 50 years, and during that time we’ve witnessed the engine come of age; evolving from the humble 54bhp 1.0-litre in the 1000 to the 323bhp 2.5-litre beast found in the Subaru WRX STI S207 (JDM only).
However, it wasn’t until 1972 before the boxer engine was paired with an all-wheel-drive transmission, which was offered as an traction-aiding extra on certain versions of the Leone wagon.
It’s safe to say that Subaru’s boxer engine has won a lot of fans over the past 50 years, and even though it perhaps looks a little outdated and isn’t as efficient as some of its competitors, it’s an engine that we can expect to feature in a lot more Subarus going forward.
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