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Downsized turbo for Subaru Impreza looms

Tur-bros: An Impreza packing a smaller turbocharged engine could compliment Subaru’s iconic WRX and flagship WRX STI nameplates.

Better performance and efficiency expected from incoming sporty Impreza turbo

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Subaru logo23 Dec 2016

SUBARU is believed to be working on a family of smaller horizontally opposed boxer engines for its new Impreza range as it broadens the line-up to take on Europe’s best small cars.

Expected to be between 1.2 and 1.6 litres in size, the engines would be offered in various outputs in naturally aspirated and turbocharged configurations to help the company’s smallest model address ever-more stringent emissions regulations surrounding carbon dioxide pollution.

Speaking to GoAuto at the launch of the new Impreza in Canberra, Subaru product planning and portfolio division manager Kazuhiro Abe confirmed that smaller capacity forced-induction powertrains are in the pipeline.

“There will be downsized turbo engines for the Impreza in the future,” he said. “But I cannot tell you when or what the engine size will be.” The new engines are part of a broader powertrain development that also encompasses electrification from petrol-electric hybrid to full-electric vehicles, as announced earlier this year at the global unveiling of the new-generation Impreza and the Subaru Global Platform (SGP) in Japan.

It is also understood that a regular torque converter automatic transmission may also be under development, to supplement or even supplant the existing Lineartronic continuously variable transmissions (CVT).

“That is a possibility of course, and we are looking at all options, Mr Abe said. “But nothing has yet been decided.” It is understood that Subaru is keen to re-establish the Impreza as a performance model in its own right, after the WRX became a separate model in its own right in 2014.

The WRX will continue as a standalone model with a completely redesigned sportscars expected to surface in 2018 based on the SGP.

Subaru Australia managing director Collin Christie reiterated that the SGP has been engineered to accept a wide range of powertrains across models ranging from small passenger cars to seven-seater SUVs, but declined to reveal when the next engine would surface.

“Fuji (Heavy Industries, Subaru’s parent company) is working on a number of technologies, including electrification and hybrids etcetera,” he said.

“And in terms of when that’s going to make it into (production) cars, that’s a conversation we are having with them all the time, but there’s been no definite timeline put forward.

“The platform has been basically designed to accept any technology so it’s an extremely flexible base.” Mr Abe also said the lack of manual transmission in the Australian line-up is partly a result of the lack of resources put into developing next-gen manual gearboxes at Fuji Heavy Industries (FHI), as their falling popularity globally makes it difficult to justify the business case for them.

He added that the relative inefficiencies of a manual gearbox over a CVT is not only evident in the latter’s clear fuel consumption advantages and smoothness of operation, but also in the advances of strong and rigid platforms such as SGP.

“The development of the manual has not kept pace with the automatic,” he said.

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