Automotive

Published on May 13th, 2016 | by Daniel Sherman Fernandez

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50th anniversary of Fuji Heavy Industries’ iconic boxer horizontally-opposed engine.

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Back on May 14, 1966, the Subaru 1000 was launched. It was FHI’s first compact passenger car powered by the boxer engine. It features a streamlined body thanks to FHI’s aeronautical background, as well as technical features such as the front-wheel drive platform and center-pivot steering wheel.
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It was a car made led by its engineering, as it featured the double offset joint, inboard brakes, and independent four-wheel suspension system. Many of the features were designed to reduce the unsprung weight of the car. Many derivatives followed, including a 2-door sedan, a van and eventually the 1300G with a bigger engine and 4WD.
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In a way, you could say that Subaru is the least compromised car company in Japan, maybe even the world. While Porsche forgot about the heritage and used Volkswagen or Audi engines in recent SUV models, all Subarus currently in production have a boxer engine. The only exceptions are the mini-vehicles in Japan… which you can’t buy overseas anyway.
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And it’s not like they made one engine and kept it. For example, there’s a new “downsized” 1.6-liter unit available with a turbocharger. Diesel is also available in the boxer configuration and remains the most popular choice in Europe since its 2007 introduction.
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Without the boxer engine, one of the most popular sportscars of this decade wouldn’t have existed. We are talking about the Toyota GT 86, or, as we used to know it, the Scion FR-S. At its core is the same 2-liter you find in the WRX minus the turbo. You may not remember this, but “BRZ” stands for “Boxer engine, Rear-wheel drive, Zenith.”

In 2006, the 2.5-liter boxer engine with a turbocharger was voted that year’s winner in the 2 to 2.5-liter category. Of course, it’s now considered too laggy and may be replaced by the 2.0L when the next STI model debuts.
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Not all boxer engines have four cylinders, though. For many years, bigger Subaru models have been available with 3-liter or 3.6-liter six-cylinder units. Because gas is cheap, it’s still a popular choice on mid-sized models like the Legacy.

Based on the deal signed with Toyota, we predict that Subaru will also combine the boxer engine with hybrid or even plug-in hybrid components. That could happen by 2020 or even earlier.
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