Subaru is a subsidiary of Fuji Heavy Industries. Which was originally Nakajima Aircraft back in 1917. It's wasn't until 1954 before Fuji Heavy Industries took on the challenge of building a road car. The name of this car was the P-1 (Nothing like the modern Subaru Impreza P1) which stood for Prototype-1. This name was later changed to the Subaru 1500. And here the Subaru was born. The name Subaru Closely translates to reference the star cluster Pleiades, which is the same famous star cluster that we see make up the subaru logo today. over the decades Subaru continued to build motor cars and in 1972 made it's first 4WD car with the Subaru Leone 4WD Station Wagon. From that point onwards Subaru made something for a name for it's self in the 4WD motor car department, almost like a trade mark. Think Subaru, think All Wheel Drive. However it wasn't until 1992 that the Subaru Impreza was born. So let's pick up the story from there.
The Launch of the Subaru Impreza (Japan) The Subaru Impreza was developed after rule changes in the World Rally Championship (WRC) demanded a replacement to the Subaru Legacy which was previously used by Subaru in the WRC. The changes meant that a new smaller, lighter and faster car was required in order to compete in the WRC. So even from day one, the Subaru Impreza was developed for rallying.
The Subaru Impreza reached the UK. Initially the Subaru Impreza was available in both Front Wheel Drive (FWD) and All Wheel Drive (AWD) versions. However the FWD was soon dropped in preference of the trademark Subaru AWD system.
The Turbo Charged Impreza 2000 AWD reached the UK (Known as the Subaru Impreza WRX in Japan). Also in 2004, Subaru Technica International (STI) was born and we started seeing STI versions of the Subaru Impreza Turbo. The Subaru Impreza WRX STI meant much more than an extra badge on the body. The STI stood for a full upgrading of the Subaru Impreza Taking was was learned on the World Rally stages and incorporating developments into the road car. Many areas were upgraded for the Subaru Impreza STI versions. Engine, Suspension and overall performance and handling greatly improved over the standard car. Top speed was limited to 155mph and 0-62 came in at just 4.7seconds for the Impreza STI. These figures made the Subaru Impreza very sought after by the local boy racers. Albeit a bit more expensive than the your every day Peugeot 205 and Vauxhall Nova.
Subaru won the World Rally Championship in a 555 WRC Subaru Impreza driven by fellow Scotsman Colin McRae. A brilliant achievement for both driver and manufacturer. Driver Colin McRae for being the first ever British driver to win the WRC, and Subaru proved that the Impreza was a World Leading rally car. To mark the success of Subaru winning the WRC championship that year, a special edition Subaru Impreza was released in the form of the McRae Series Subaru Impreza.
Subaru took the manufacturer title for a second year in a row, and promptly released another special edition Impreza knows as the Subaru Impreza Catalunya.
Subaru won a hat-trick of manufacturer championships and celebrated once again by releasing a new special edition Impreza. The Subaru Impreza Terzo (Italian for 3rd). Only 333 Subaru Impreza Terzos were made, as a mark of the three championships won with the Subaru Impreza. 1997 also saw a few changes to the Impreza road car. Interior styling was updated including an exclusive MOMO racing steering wheel. Meanwhile STI versions were given an newly designed rear spoiler. In Japan a special 2-door coupe Subaru Impreza was released which was used as the 1998 WRC car.
The Subaru Impreza 22B. A label that often conjures up thoughts of what the ultimate Subaru Impreza might be. The 22B (Note: for the computer geeks out there, 22B in hex converts to 555 in decimal.) provided a 2.2l boxer engine, more hardcore styling all round including 2-doors instead of 4 and an adjustable rear wing made up just some of the key features of the 22B. Only 400 22B's were made in order to celebrate 40 years of Subaru and only 16 of those were destined for the UK. I've seen three in total!! UK versions also had tweaked gearing which was specifically optimised to UK roads. How cool is that!
To celebrate the new driver lineup of Richard Burns in the Subaru World Rally Team, Subaru decided it was once again time for a special edition. This time the RB5 named after Richard Burns. Sadly in November 2003 Richard Burns was diagnosed with a form of brain tumour and later died on the 25th November 2005 from his illness. This makes the RB5 all the more special now. Only 444 RB5's were made, with the option of the WR Sport pack.
1999 Also saw the release of another special edition. The Subaru Impreza P1, which like the Subaru Impreza 22B was a 2-door coupe model, and like the 22B it was only available in WR Blue. However unlike the 22B the Subaru Impreza P1 delivered a 276bhp out of the box, and supporting a whole load of new accessories such as 10-spoke OZ Titanium racing wheels, improved quick-shift gearbox, rear-wiper, new front wing/splitter, new fog lamps and a new exclusive rear wing. Unlike the Impreza 22B there were 1,000 P1's made. Despite this the Subaru Impreza P1 remains one of the most expensive Subaru Impreza's to buy today.
For eight years, the Subaru Impreza remained more or less unchanged (externally) until 2000 where Subaru decided to update the Impreza for the 21st century. This change was met with mixed views. The appropriately labeled Bug-eye version by critics, was just that. Bug-eyed! One can only guess it was Subaru's attempt to make the Impreza all cute and cuddly. But this didn't go down well with the fans. Many NewAge impreza's promptly had their headlights replaces with WRC look-alike HI-Definition (HiD) lamps or the more aggressive looking Morette cluster. What was in favour of the fans was the globalisation of the WRX name. Previously only used in Japan, the WRX badge was now stuck to any Impreza with a Turbo!
To celebrate Richard Burns's win in the WRC and the launch of the of the new model, Subaru decided to launch yet another special edition Impreza. This time the Subaru Impreza UK300. Once again just like the 22B and P1 the only colour available was WR Blue. The UK300 supported new prodrive styled spoilers of which the rear wing looked like was picked from bit of an airfix kit and not put together properly. Thankfully the front end was improved slightly, with the addition of improved HiD headlamps which made the car look slightly less like a bug. Yet no matter what they did, it was still going to be remembered as the Bug-Eyed version. 2001 also saw the arrival of the NewAge (Must stop calling it bug-eyed) Subaru Impreza WRX STI to the UK. Just like previous STI's, this was based on the WRX but tweaked a little by the Subaru Technica International (STI) team. If that wasn't enough there was also the option of a Prodrive Performance Pack (PPP). The Subaru Imrpeza WRX STI saw a few key changes over the standard Subaru Impreza WRX. This time, the addition of a 6-speed gearbox as opposed to the WRX 5-speed. Also a nice welcome was similar headlamps which were found on the UK300.
It didn't take long before Subaru had to give in to pressure from fans and go back to the drawing board (literally) to come up with a new style Subaru Impreza. So in 2002, Subaru announced yet another NewAge Impreza. The MY03. Main difference here was the front end. More or less everything else stayed the same, but those bug-eyed headlamps were out and replaced with slightly less ugly ones. Also a bigger bonnet scoop was included. Not to be outdone, the Subaru Impreza WRX power was increased by 10bhp. Not surprisingly many Bug-eyed Subaru Impreza's were made available on the 2nd hand market as many owners wanted to change their driveway accessory for the new style Subaru Impreza.
Although Turbo versions of the Subaru Impreza were available in Japan and Europe from more or less day one. The US favoured their muscle cars and not these Japanese breed of performance cars. Which meant the Subaru Impreza Turbo's never "officially" reached US soil until the 2002 model. Any previous Subaru Impreza's were Imports. Unfortunately for the US market the famous 2.0l boxer engine had to go. The fuel regulations in the US meant that the high performance expected from the Subaru Impreza could not be achieved from the 2.0l engine with US fuel. Instead, the Subaru Impreza was given a nice new 2.5l boxer engine for the US market, in order to keep the power and performance up.
Another Subaru WRC title win with Petter Solberg at the wheel. Once again sticking with tradition a new special edition was released, known as the Subaru Impreza WR1. I must admit the WR1 is one of my personal favourites, if only because of the unique Ice Blue colour. Only 500 WR1's were made, but Subaru decided to throw everything at it, including PPP and Driver Controlled Centre Diff (DCCD). The Subaru Impreza WRX STI also saw further improvements in 2004 with upgraded mechanics from the Japanese models. This new revised STI saw a new front diff, along with the DCCD system which was found on the WR1 and UK300 models. Nice!
Towards the end of 2005. Again just 2 years after the previous model was replaced, Subaru decided to release another new bodied Subaru Impreza, the MY06. This time with new crystal rear light cluster and yet another new front end. The jury is still out about whether or not it is a hit or a miss. I personally think it looks Awesome. Almost as though Subaru have forgotten the last 5 years and gone back to the aggressive styling of the original Subaru Impreza from the 90's! I admit, it did take a few days to get used to, but after you see past the SEAT grill and BMW headlamps you soon realise that this is the sort of car you want other people to see you in, in their rear view mirror. (Admittedly briefly as you scream past them shortly after words :) Sadly the MY06 marked the end for the traditional 2.0l boxer engine. Instead we saw the introduction of the 2.5l boxer engine into the Subaru Impreza. A sad end which seems to have gone relatively unnoticed. But then think of what they can do with that extra 500cubic centimetres of space. Mwaahaahaahaa!...
Towards the end of 2006. Subaru / Prodrive announced the realease of a new Special Edition Impreza. Sadly without recent success in the WRC. This time the special edition was to celebrate the life of previous Subaru WRC Champion Richard Burns who sadly died 12 months previously due to a brain tumour. The New Special Edition Subaru Impreza was to be named the RB320. That's 320bhp and a limited number of 320 to be produced. Essentially the RB320 is a 2006 model Subaru Impeza WRX STi PPP with just abotu ever add on you can think of, along with bespoke prodrive/blitsen dampers, exclusive obsidian black paint work, black alloys and full dront grill set. All in all making the RB320 very exclusive and ver agressive looking with only small markings on the passenger, drivers doors and boot lid of a small orange RB320 logo. The rest of the car is very much black in respect for the late Richard Burns. A true trubite to a great champion!
I have yet to come up with a word that describes Subaru in 2007. At the time of writing Subaru had recently announced the drascically redesigned 2008 model of the Subaru Impreza (You can see some photos here) Make your own mind up about what you think of it. My initial thoughts are yuk.. And I have to say my thoughts are still more or less the same. The car does NOT look agressive as it shoudl and just looks like any other family hatchback on the road. a fair pecentage of the Impreza's appeal has always been it's agressive shape and styling. Even teh bugeye version admitedly wasn't welcomed by many had the trademark styling that for every other angle you knew it was an Impreza and more importantly a car to be reckoned with!. This new one doesn't do much for me I'm afraid. Doesn't excite me when I see pictures of it like previous styles. The same recipie is still there usign the same 2.5l boxer engine from teh MY06 models, a new intercooler has been shoved in. Power remains teh same at 225ps for the WRX model, awd as standard of course :). However the tyres are narrower than previous versions. Also it's worth noting that at time of writing there are no plans for a WRX version or saloon version for the UK. Instead we'll have the basic models then a jump up to the STi's I see this as a mistake as the WRX hits a just about affordable market for most peopel who cant afford te £25k price of the STi. However somethign new for the MY08 Impreza will be the introduction of a 170bhp Diesel Impreza. Thats right diesel. Should be interesting...Watch this space...
Leaked images of BMW?s 8 Series Concept have surfaced online a day before it makes its official debut at the Concorso d?Eleganza Villa d?Este.
Pictures published on Carscoops show that the car will retain the two-door coupé layout of its spiritual predecessor, which bore the same name when it was launched in 1989.
No technical information has been revealed with the leak, but the concept will influence a production model that?s due for launch next year. Recent trademarks suggest a high-performance M8 model will follow soon after.
The car is expected to be built on CLAR underpinnings, which are shared with the 5 and 7 Series, and it could be offered with a 601bhp 6.6-litre V12 engine at the top of the range.
More information will be released tomorrow when the car makes its public debut near Lake Como in Italy.
Photoshoots are part and parcel of being on our fleet. Our cars are shot in detail when they first arrive and again before they leave, and it?s a chance for us to catalogue everything about our new car.
For the Kia Niro, we decided to do part of the shoot outside, around our offices near Twickenham. But for the ?detail? pictures we moved to the security and warmth of our studio, where the car sat with its lights on and the ignition off for perhaps half an hour. And in the process we managed to completely flatten the 12V battery and leave the car stranded.
I received a call from snapper Will Williams, initially to say that, having finished with the car, it was showing a brake error message and wouldn?t start ? and therefore couldn?t be moved. After giving the Niro some time to ?reset? itself, Will called back to say he?d managed to roll it out of the studio, but the interior lights and other electrics were playing up; even the door locks wouldn?t work. Before long, the car was completely dead, and no one was quite sure whether trying to jump start a hybrid was a good idea.
A call to Kia resulted in our Niro being towed away by the RAC to be diagnosed professionally. The explanation we received from Kia later that day confirmed a drained 12V battery, which was duly recharged. Kia?s diagnostics system revealed no further issues.
Now that we?ve got the car back, I?m slowly learning to adapt to running a hybrid car: how to use the regenerative brakes to pump friction energy back into the battery, and learning where the acceleration cut-off between fully electric and electric/petrol engine power lies.
We?re still working on our fuel economy, though, because the 45.6mpg we?re seeing at the moment isn?t particularly impressive. We?ll see if a couple of motorway runs to see family and friends in the next few weeks can improve that number, and I?ll be taking a leaf out of resident frugal driving expert Tim Dickson?s big book of hyper-miling tips to find out what?s achievable.
The UK automotive industry has a turnover of £71.6bn
Society of Motor Manufacturers & Traders report calls for continued EU single-market access and long-term ULEV strategy
The UK car industry has put forward five automotive priorities that it wants the next government to address over the next five years ? and they include securing continued access to the European single market following Brexit.
The report has been issued by the Society of Motor Manufacturers & Traders (SMMT) in the run-up to the general election on 8 June.
As well as reaching a new trade agreement with the European Union (EU), the list includes: ensuring a globally competitive business environment; the development of a long-term industrial strategy that specifically addresses automotive; support for sustainable mobility and ultra-low emission vehicles (ULEVs); and policies to ensure the country benefits from developments in connected mobility.
Mike Hawes, the chief executive of the SMMT, said: ?British car manufacturing remains in good health with the production outlook still very positive and significant new models due to go into UK production shortly.
?To guarantee future growth and investment into our industry and its vital supply chain, however, we need the next government to safeguard the conditions that have made us globally competitive, keeping us open and trading and delivering an ambitious industrial strategy for our sector.?
A total of 1.7 million cars were built in the UK in 2016, an increase of 8.5% from 2015 and the highest output since 1999. The automotive industry accounts for 12% of total UK exports.
SMMT reiterates Brexit threat
The SMMT has repeatedly warned of the potential harm to the UK car industry if access to the European single market is not reached post-Brexit. Figures show that 57.5% of cars exported from the UK in 2015 went to the EU, with 81.8% of cars imported into Britain originating from there.
The report cites World Trade Organisation figures that the introduction of a 10% tariff on exports to and from the UK could cost the industry £4.5 billion and add £1500 to the price of every imported car.
The SMMT has also called for the future government to ensure the UK automotive industry has unrestricted access to the EU workforce.
Calls for investment in ULEV infrastructure and incentives
The SMMT?s priorities also call for the future UK government to ?take a technologically neutral approach? to reducing carbon and pollutant emissions from vehicles that ?allows motorists to choose from the full range of cleaner technologies being offered by the automotive industry?.
There is also a call for the government to develop a long-term strategy to promote the take-up of ULEVs that includes incentives, infrastructure development, consumer acceptance and the development of new battery and fuel technologies.
UK car manufacturing remains strong
The SMMT also released details of UK car manufacturing levels for April. A total of 122,116 cars were made in the UK last month, a decrease of 18.2% from a year ago ? although the SMMT noted the late Easter bank holiday affected production.
In the first four months of this year, 593,796 cars have been made ? a 1% increase year on year and the highest level since 2000. A 3.5% growth in demand from overseas helped offset a 7% fall in UK sales.
If engine downsizing continues, manufacturers will run into emissions and cost problems according to VW's Herbert Diess
The push to develop ever smaller, downsized engines to meet emissions regulations has peaked, according to Volkswagen brand boss Herbert Diess.
For more than a decade, manufacturers have focused on developing smaller engines, including families of new, turbo and non-turbo three-cylinder engines, in order to meet laboratory-based emissions regulations.
However, Diess believes the cost of developing even smaller engines, coupled with the onset of better real-world economy testing, means the current status quo on engine sizes is likely to be maintained.
?The reduction in the number of cylinders has achieved its goals,? he said. ?Whether it is moving from four cylinders to three or six to four, then we have achieved efficiency benefits while retaining the qualities of driveability. That trend made a lot of sense ? but it comes to an end now. If we go smaller, we will run into emissions and cost problems.?
Diess also said the cost of making diesel engines meet new emissions regulations ? which he estimated at an average of ?1000 (about £850) per car ? would mean buyers of small cars would no longer accept the price hike for the fuel-efficiency gain.
?For city and supermini cars, it is likely that 48V hybrid systems will replace diesels, offering the same efficiency for less money. The internal combustion engine has a long life ahead of it yet, but as we hit the limits of thermo-dynamics, then the cost of hybridisation will be less than that of pursuing gains without them.?
Geely, the owner of Volvo, will take control of Lotus
Geely has bought a 51% majority stake in Lotus - can it provide the energy it gave to Volvo to the British sports car firm?
Things might not happen fast. It took half a decade for Geely?s influence on Volvo to become evident to the public after the Chinese company bought the Swedish car maker in 2010.
But when the new XC90 landed in 2015, it became evident that Volvo and Geely were a pairing disinclined to mess about. The XC90 will be the oldest model in Volvo?s range in just two years? time. With advanced platform sharing and streamlined powertrain design, Volvo is going places, and fast. The mood is light, its executives are happy and energised, and Volvo is a modest company, performing well. Last year it sold more cars than ever before despite having an unfinished range, and the likelihood is that, by the end of the decade, it will sell 800,000 cars a year.
Don?t mistake its modesty for a lack of ambition or direction, either. It intends that nobody should be killed in any Volvo made after 2020, and is ?quite sure? that the diesel engine ?cannot help? once it needs to make cars that produce 95g/km of CO2 or less without high NOx figures.
And so, then, to Lotus, which Geely has just required a controlling stake in. Those words ? happy, energised, ambitious, decisive ? are not ones I?d necessarily have related to Hethel employees when I?ve spoken to them lately. It?s not that there aren?t people there who could be all of those things, but with a struggling parent company like Proton, life is never going to be easy, which is why a lot of its talented engineers have moved elsewhere.
Lotus returned profits last year, it?s true. Remarkable enough, but it came against a background of little money spent on investment and fewer staff than it needs if it?s to rebuild its range. Lotus has been bumbling along, desperately needing great new cars to sell: the remarkable Elise has been a stalwart but, like an ageing athlete, you can?t keep calling on it forever. It isn?t expensive enough to return big profits, either. The Evora is, but it isn?t nearly good enough.
So while Lotus has occasionally had money thrown at it, and usually had great engineers, it has always been short of something. Sometimes money, sometimes the leadership to make sure it builds cars people want, sometimes both. There is no shortage of car makers currently proving that, and if you make a desirable car with a desirable badge, people will buy it. And folk would buy Lotuses, if it only gave them a reason to do so.
What Lotus needs, then, is that energy Geely has given to Volvo - both the drive and the investment. I guess we?ll find out over the coming months whether Geely thinks it can afford to be as hands-off as it seems to have been with Volvo after the course has been set. But my guess is it?ll be a few years before we see how well that path has been steered. Hopefully, this time, at long last, everything will come good for Lotus.