Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Subaru's RWD Sports Car getting 2.0-liter non-turbo engine, confirmed for America

by Jeremy Korzeniewski

Peanut butter and jelly. Beer and brats. Wine and cheese. Subaru and all-wheel drive. It's true – Subaru has done an enviable job convincing Americans that its automobiles are synomous with all-wheel drive, and the idea of a Subie that eschews four driven wheels for a powertrain sending its horsepower to the rear wheels only sounds like heresey to the diehard WRX driver.

But it shouldn't... at least, that's what Subaru is now trying to convince the masses with its new rear-wheel-drive Boxer Sports Car Architecture. It's worth noting that the automaker has confirmed for the first time here at the 2011 Geneva Motor Show that the upcoming production version of this sports car is coming to America. If all goes to plan, production will commence in the spring of 2012 at a Subaru production plant in Japan.

Will Subaru's American enthusiasts come to accept a rear-wheel-drive sports car from their beloved Japanese automaker? How about one that's being jointly developed with Toyota? That remains to be seen, but we'd guess the answer depends a lot on how well Subaru is able to tune the chassis to deliver proper sports car driving dynamics. To that end, Subaru (which is doing the hardcore chassis engineering on the joint Toyota/Subaru architecture) has done all it can to lower the car's center of gravity, using its tried-and-true boxer engine design that Subaru claims "is without a doubt the most suitable engine for the RWD Sports Car." There are some features to back up that claim, including all-aluminum construction and the lack of a balance shaft due to the engine's inherently smooth operation – both of which contribute to a minimal amount weight hanging off the front end of the car.

Note that the engine in this engineering study displaces just 2.0 liters and is naturally aspirated. Clearly, this isn't going to be a car that relies on sheer power for performance. According to Subaru: "Instead it maximises the potential of this newly developed chassis to achieve the fundamental characteristics of a rear-wheel-drive sports car by delivering sporty performance as driver and vehicle work in unison, as well as providing agile response afforded by its short wheel base."

It's interesting to note that the boxer engine sits lower and further back in the engine bay than other Subaru models due to the lack of a front differential or driveshafts. Such an arrangement centralizes weight and mass towards the center of the car, which aids handling and ought to help provide neutral dynamics and facilitate quick directional changes. Front struts work with a rear double-wishbone suspension arrangement, and just 101 inches (2,570 millimeters) seperates the front and rear wheels.

It certainly seems that all the necessary ingredients for an entertaining sports car are present and accounted for. Naturally, we can hope for expressive styling to match, though Subaru isn't commenting on the exterior appearance at this time. In any case, you can color us intrigued by this new rear-wheel-drive coupe from Subaru, and we look forward to finding out first hand if it drives as well as the company promises.