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...
Reborn brand is contemplating adding a convertible and more powerful models to its hotly anticipated sports car range
Early sales interest in the new Alpine sports car has given company bosses the confidence to investigate creating a family of spin-off editions, including higher-performance and convertible versions of the car.
In the build-up to the launch of the sports car, which will be revealed this winter, ahead of sales beginning early next year, Alpine has revealed two concepts: the rally-inspired Alpine Celebration (shown below) and the more production-orientated Alpine Vision. The latter, which is said to be 80% representative of a production model, highlights Alpine?s plans to create a point of difference from rivals such as Porsche and Lotus by focusing on compact dimensions and agility over outright power without sacrificing interior comfort.
?If you look back through our history, the place we can be most legitimate is by building rear-wheel-drive, rear-engined sports cars that are lightweight, nimble and fun to drive every day, rather than sprinting the fastest to 150mph,? said Alpine boss Michael van der Sande.
?We are not making big, heavy, powerful cars for the racetrack or autobahn; we?re building cars that will be fun from reasonable speeds upwards and which don?t compromise on interior quality to achieve that.?
Powertrain details have yet to be revealed, beyond the fact that the engine will be a turbocharged four-cylinder unit of an unspecified capacity. However, Autocar understands the engine will be a 1.8-litre unit developed from the turbocharged 1.6-litre engine used in the Renault Clio RS.
The engine?s outputs are also undisclosed at this stage, but sources have indicated that the launch Alpine will have around 250bhp as standard and up to 300bhp in a higher-performance version that will use more aggressive turbocharging.
?We have a lot more ideas than funds at the moment, but that is one of the challenges of starting a brand from scratch,? said van der Sande. ?We have to prove the demand is there for such a car and then start seeing which of our plans make most sense. A faster version looks like it would have potential, and I could imagine a beautiful convertible could be a possibility, but nothing is decided.?
The Alpine will be sold through a network of 60-80 European dealers initially, the majority of which will be part of existing Renault facilities.
Right-hand-drive models will be built for sale in the UK, van der Sande confirmed, before also saying that building the brand outside of Europe was possible at a future date.
?For now, Europe is the focus,? he said. ?As a brand, we must build step by step, and awareness of our history varies around the world - but, longer term, anything is possible, be it the US, China or elsewhere in the world.? He also reiterated that Alpine would expand to sell a family of cars in time, with at least one SUV already having been mooted.
?We have six or seven ideas on the drawing board, but whatever we do in the future must always be underpinned by an authentic sports car,? he said. ?That?s what we?re known for and that?s what we must get established before we start expanding the range.?
Q&A with ANTONY VILLAIN, ALPINE DESIGN DIRECTOR
How long have you been working on the sports car?
?About four years ago I moved from the Clio and Captur projects to Alpine. It?s a small team, but one that gets involved in every aspect, from designing the car to designing the branding or livery of the Le Mans race team. We do it all, but because of that it is a very different project.?
How did you start?
?The first thing I did was take the team to an Alpine collector. We spent days sketching, painting and photographing about 20 cars. We wanted to understand the heritage and what codes identified the brand. The A110 was central to it, of course, but there is more to Alpine than a single car.?
What were the conclusions?
?Compact dimensions, light weight and agility were key. Keeping things simple is key to elegance ? but not too simple so we end up with something as pure as a race car. We want refinement, too. This is not an Alfa 4C with a singular purpose.?
The first pre-production car is finished. Are you pleased?
?It?s in the factory, yes. All I will tell you is that it has soul, and that was one of our goals. Some cars are almost too clinical to have soul. The Alpine is beautiful but not clinical. It has signatures from the past but is very modern in its execution.?
Tyres are black and round, right? Well, of course there?s more to it than that, but when I got chatting with a friend last weekend about the likelihood of all-electric rallycross taking off as a sport, the challenges presented to tyre manufacturers by motorsport became ever more apparent - and the solutions they develop ever more relevant to all of us.
The theory, being pursued by senior folk at Volkswagen and Peugeot, is that rallycross is the perfect form of motorsport to showcase electric cars. The races are short and spaced out throughout a day, so the batteries don?t need to be massive and can be regularly charged, and the racing is hugely spectacular and therefore a great showcase for the technology.
As such, they are lobbying rule makers to change regulations and make it a reality. It?s a controversial move that has many purists up in arms - not least because of the risk such a formula would pose to the noisy, flame-spitting delights of today?s rallycross supercars.
Conventionally powered supercars already pump out around 700bhp with 1000lb ft of torque. But my friend, who knows a thing or two about this, speculated that an optimised electric rallycross car could be capable of 1000bhp and 2000lb ft of torque, all of which could be available from the moment the green light flicks on at the start of a race.
Such are the advances in electric motor and battery technology that he reckoned developing the car would be relatively easy - but the challenge would lie in developing tyres that could handle the power, and especially cling to the wheel rim while trying to lay all that performance on the road.
The key to it all is the tyre bead, a composite loop that locks the tyre on to the wheel to prevent it from slipping off. Complex stuff, and quite an eye-opener if you consider all tyres as being black and round. Forgive the layman?s explanation, but roughly speaking the bead includes a steel wire loop, filler and protection for the tyre and sidewall - plus something known as a flipper, which holds the bead in place.
It?s an ultra-competitive area of tyre technology, and nobody is about to spill their secrets. But it?s clear that there are answers out there that could be applied to the challenges of electric rallycross from other motorsport divisions, none more so than Formula 1.
Today, Pirelli makes tyres that stay on the rims while enduring the huge demands of being shod on 900bhp Formula 1 cars. And while Pirelli has the F1 contract, there?s no shortage of other tyre manufacturers who would like to have it. As daunting as the demands may sound, tyre manufacturers have, to date, come up with the answers posed by grand prix racing. In electric rallycross, it would surely be the same - so a tyre suitable for handling 1000bhp and 2000lb ft on asphalt and gravel could well become a reality.
And the knock-on benefit to ordinary motorists? According to Pirelli, you don?t need to drive a Bugatti Chiron to benefit from the road tyre advances developed in racing. Its recently relaunched P Zero tyre, designed for sports cars and luxury saloons, has new underlayer compounds that are designed to improve handling and rolling resistance, innovative polymers to improve wet and dry grip and a new tread pattern with deeper longitudinal grooves to help resist aquaplaning.
It also has - you guessed it - new bead technology, derived from lessons learnt in F1. While the challenge isn?t so much about sticking the tyre to the rim, keeping the tyre rigidly attached around the bead area allows the tyre to transmit steering forces more directly to the road, offering improved steering response and feel.
So while electric rallycross cars may provoke as much fear as excitement among purists, the knock-on benefits of taking on and conquering such new challenges could well be enjoyed by us all.
Autocar 27 July ? out now
New four-pot Porsche 718 Cayman S vs BMW M2 and Jaguar F-Type, plus Aston Martin?s secret Ferrari 488 GTB rival
BMW lovers are treated to a BTCC history feature where we look back at the Bavarian firm?s British saloon car racing history, we pick up an open-top Noble M600 Speedster from the car maker?s factory and see how Bentley?s Continental GT3-R fares against the racing model it?s inspired by, the GT3.
Our long-term test cars:
Say hello to our new posh pick-up, the Nissan Navara, our Seat Ibiza Cupra flaunts power and frugality and the BMW i8?s two-speed electric axle confirms hybrid power can be fun.
Our classifieds expert looks at the growing trend of selling cars on social media, and we examine the used market for classic Fiats that start for as little as £1000.
We also remember the time legendary F1 champion Mike Hawthorn wrote in Autocar about his love and appreciation for automatic gearboxes way back in 1958, the year before his tragic death.
For most of us, buying and owning a car is a fairly straightforward, unglamorous process.
But for the lucky few, it?s a whole other world of indulgence. I?m talking specifically about Bugatti owners ? who, on average (and notoriously), own 84 cars, three planes and one yacht.
So what does it take to be a Bugatti owner? Well, firstly, you have to be in a very select group ? either an existing Bugatti owner, or someone familiar to the company through its network of high-end dealers. For the new Chiron, of the 200 orders taken so far, 50% are from existing Veyron owners, while the other 50% are from newcomers to the brand.
Long before the Chiron was unveiled to the public at this year?s Geneva motor show, those select few were invited to so-called ?roadshows? around the world, starting last July in California. These are invitation-only events, where individuals have a private two-hour slot to look at the car and talk to designers, engineers and bosses about all things Chiron.
As a measure of these events? success, 160 of the current 200 orders were taken as a result. Furthermore, if you keep in mind that no-one has had a single test drive yet, you start to figure out quite how powerful the Bugatti brand is.
Once the first Chiron is delivered ? which is due to happen in autumn this year (and, once again, the buyer won?t have driven it at all prior to delivery) ? its new owner gets access to one of the most exclusive clubs in the world, with Bugatti sales and marketing boss Stefan Brungs describing owners as ?being treated like family?.
For the 320 existing Veyron owners (who possess the 450 Veyron models between them) and the upcoming Chiron owners, this means a life of luxury. Brungs explains that owners are regularly invited to the home of Bugatti at Molsheim. It also hosts private concerts for owners and many a ?grand tour?, in which owners tour in their respective Bugattis to glamorous locations around the world.
So if you have a spare £1.9 million lying around for one of the remaining 300 Chirons, you?ll be thrilled to hear there are some freebies down the line.
The Bugatti Chiron at the new H.R. Owen London showroom
Sales and marketing boss says the upcoming Bugatti Chiron will not get a roadster derivative unlike its predecessor, the Veyron
The new Bugatti Chiron will not get a roadster version unlike its predecessor, the Veyron, according to the firm's sales and marketing boss Dr Stefan Brungs.
Talking to Autocar at the opening of Bugatti's only UK showroom in Mayfair, London, Brungs confirmed there would be "no roadster or convertible" derivative, despite the Veyron offering both the Grand Sport and Grand Sport Vitesse targa-topped models during its lifecycle.
When asked about other faster variants in the vein of the Veyron Super Sport, Brungs said: "We're looking at different options for the car", before adding that Bugatti was solely focusing on selling the 500 standard Chirons for the time being.
He hopes the new H.R. Owen Bugatti showroom will contribute to that, citing the importance of the UK as a market. ?London is one of the most important locations for Bugatti worldwide. Many of our current customers love this city and have a residence here. The launch of H.R. Owen Bugatti means we are now able to serve our exclusive clientele in a perfect setting,? Brungs said.
Sixty-five Bugatti Veyrons are currently owned by customers in the UK and 15 orders for the Chiron have been received from this country so far.
Despite the £1.9million price tag of the Chiron, the average cost of options is more than £250,000, according to Brungs. Visible carbonfibre available in eight colours, special sports wheels and personalised embroidery such as a family crest are some of the most popular options picked by customers.