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Subaru eyes next Impreza and new ‘Subarota’

New Impreza: Subaru's LA Impreza concept gives a glimpse of the brand's next-gen mid-sizer.

Next-gen Impreza here in a year with new boxer and CVT, followed by new coupe

3 Feb 2011

SUBARU’S all-new rear-drive sportscar could go on sale in Australia as early as next year, but the company’s next-generation Impreza will beat it into local showrooms by at least a year when it goes on sale in late 2011 - complete with a new boxer engine and CVT transmission.

Subaru Australia managing director Nick Senior said he would learn the local release date of the Subaru-Toyota joint-venture four-seater boxer model, which has been dubbed everything from ‘Subarota’ to ‘Toyobaru’, in a meeting with parent company Fuji Heavy Industries in Japan next week.

“I’m going there next week to see if it is 2013 or next year and they’ll give us the exact time schedule for that - whether it’s next year or 2013,” said Mr Senior at this week’s launch of the revised MY2011 Forester range, headlined by the WRX-engined S-Edition turbo variant.

“Our position has always been that we’ll make a decision in the first half of this year, and nothing’s changed since then.”

Mr Senior confirmed Subaru’s redesigned Impreza small car, due on sale in Australian before this Christmas, will not only come with the new FB-series boxer engine released in MY11 Forester X and XS this month, but will also feature a new constantly variable transmission (CVT) to replace the existing model’s conventional four-speed automatic option.

2 center imageTop and middle: Subaru LA Impreza concept. Bottom: Subaru Hybrid Tourer concept.

Subaru already offers a CVT auto option in its (non-turbo four-cylinder) Liberty, Outback and Exiga models, while mainstream MY11 Forester models with Subaru’s new boxer four employ an upgraded version of the current Impreza’s four-speed auto and the top-shelf S-Edition runs a retuned 2.5-litre turbocharged engine linked exclusively to the WRX’s optional five-speed paddle-shift automatic transmission and 45/55-split all-wheel drive system.

However, referring to technologies planned for the new engine, Mr Senior said it would soon be matched with a new CVT auto that would be suitable with high-torque applications, including turbo-diesel and turbo-petrol power.

“You marry it (the FB series engine) with transmissions, such as CVT,” he said. “By and large our development direction is with CVT and developing performance cars with CVT.

“High torque is not a problem - they are working with a CVT that will accommodate a diesel engine.”

Mr Senior confirmed the automatic version of the Forester 2.0D diesel manual, due in 2013, would also come with a CVT.

Meanwhile, the roll-out of the new naturally aspirated long-stroke FB boxer engine will continue this year, said Mr Senior.

“Today was the first (model to use the FB engine), and within a year you’ll see it in the next-generation Impreza.

“Then it’ll start flowing through to all the models we introduce.”

As GoAuto has reported, it is likely Toyota will provide the new engine with direct-injection technology for both its version of the Subarota, hitherto seen as the FT-86 coupe concept, as well as Subaru’s as yet unnamed iteration.

The powertrain and (unique) silhouette of the latter will be seen for the first time at the Geneva motor show on March 1, when Toyota will reveal the latest development of the rear-drive FT-86 concept.

Mr Senior acknowledged that direct-injection is on the cards for the FB engine, given that tighter new Euro 5 emissions standards will all but necessitate it.

However, he said the long-stroke FB-series engine does not suit turbocharging, leaving Subaru’s turbo boxer models to continue with engines based on the EJ-series powerplant first introduced in 1989.

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