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Tokyo show: Subaru moving people

Distinctive: Subaru's WX-01 concept seats seven and has four-wheel drive.

Two concepts unveiled in Tokyo point to a more exciting future for people-movers

25 Oct 2001

SUBARU has unveiled two concepts at the Tokyo motor show which preview a more exciting future for the people-mover market.

The first is the WX-01, which is in-the-metal evidence of a Subaru-GM plan to develop a mid-size, four-wheel drive, seven-seat people-mover (codenamed SG/X) for sale by 2005.

But Subaru insiders say very little should be drawn from the WX-01's distinctive exterior styling.

The other concept is a four-wheel drive version of the Traviq, which is Subaru's rebadged Holden Zafira people-mover.

Subaru calls the WX-01 a "high-performance grand-tourer", saying it is a strong reflection of what it believes the ideal grand touring car of the future to be.

Powered by a 3.0-litre flat 6 engine already seen in the Outback H6, the WX-01 seats seven in a 2-3-2 formation, which works neatly with the aerodynamically designed tapered roof and rear end.

Mechanical highlights include an all-wheel traction control system which includes newly developed torque distribution mechanisms in the front and rear differential gears.

New composites are used for some structural components and parts, helping minimise WX-01's weight and enhance fuel economy.

The distinctive headlights predict the direction of the car by analysing information from its steering operation and navigation system, making it possible to beam light accurately onto the road in the path of the turning car.

Inside, the WX-01 features machined-aluminium instrument panels with suede-like seats and doors, while utility controls and instrument read-outs for the air-conditioner and navigation systems are concentrated on the centre console.

Subaru parent Fuji Heavy Industries (FHI) says the conversion of the Traviq was intended to prove the company's all-wheel drive ability. FHI is the GM group's Centre of Expertise AWD technology.

The converted Traviq retains all its original utility and interior and exterior design features, as well as its major structural body panels and components.

The conversion has been made possible by the use of the multi-link rear suspension systems from the Subaru Liberty, together with power take-off, a four-joint propeller shaft and electromagnetic coupling. The conversions boosts the Traviq's weight from 1470kg to 1570kg.

* At the same time as the blanket was coming off the Traviq in Tokyo, in Europe Opel was revealing the production version of its turbo Zafira, complete with 140kW, 2.0-litre engine.

Called the Zafira GSi, it has been developed by a team of specialists from Opel Performance Centre (OPC) and the General Motors International Technical Development Centre in Germany.

Firmer springs and dampers, retuned ESP and traction control, ventilated front 16-inch disc brakes, alloy wheels with wide 225/45 R 17 tyres, a front apron with larger air intake, pronounced side skirts and a rear apron are all part of the package.

There are no plans for the turbo Zafira to be brought to Australia.

* Watch out for our full wrap-up of the Tokyo motor show in automotive e-news next Monday. To subscribe just click on the icon on the top right corner of the "home page".

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