• Jun 15th 2006 at 2:03PM
  • 14
Subaru of Japan has just introduced a functional little niche vehicle called the Stella, which is based on the same architecture as the also-domestic-only R2. There are two variants: Stella and Stella Custom, and for each model there are a pair of available trim levels. For the Stella, they are L and LX, and for Stella Custom, they're R and RS. All four get Subaru's 658cc EN07 DOHC 4-cylinder with AVCS variable valve timing. Likewise, all can be had with either FWD or AWD, and shifting is handled by the company's i-CVT transmission. L, LX, and R cars make 54 horses, and the supercharged RS pushes out 64 horses. Those power numbers will seem horrifyingly anemic to most readers but in Japan, it's not uncommon at all to see small, city-sized cars with double-digit horsepower. They get the job done, and sip gas to the tune of 52 mpg (FWD) along the way.

Interestingly, the Stella is targeted squarely at women-- young housewives and moms in particular -- and Subaru has high hopes for it. Their sales target is 5,000 cars a month.

(Click to continue reading "Subaru Stella has Japanese housewives and moms in mind") The Stella and Stella Custom have several visual cues that separate them from each other. The Stella L / LX has a softer-looking face, for starters. Its headlights feature integrated turn signals and markers, and its grille is small, highlighted by a chrome strip along the top with the Subaru badge in the middle. The lower fascia opening has a body-color accent  running through it, and the rear bumper is smooth. The exterior color palatte is distinctly feminine, with pink, light blue, a soft white and other similarly muted colors filling out the options sheet. The visual icons on for each paint color on the Stella website directly reinforce the feminine theme.

The interior of all "regular" Stella models is done in an ivory tone that tastefully accents whichever paint color the customer selects. There is seating for four, and the interior's overall configuration is highly functional. The three passenger seatbacks all roll completely forward to make flat table areas, and Subaru showcases how this can be used to give a mom easy access to her child sitting in back. If the front passenger seat is folded back, and baby is riding in the rear passenger seat, the mom has almost completely unobstructed access to the child if necessary. Getting baby in and out of the car is a snap, thanks to rear doors that open a full 90 degrees.  In addition to folding, the rear seat formation can be staggered to accomodate different types of cargo.

Critically, outward visibility appears to be excellent, thanks to tall, wide glass and thin pillars all around.

The interior is also home to a wealth of storage nooks, hooks, and crannies. There's a bin within the driver's arm's length that easily accomodates a makeup case. Hooks in the front and rear seating areas provide handy stowage for shopping bags and pocketbooks. The center console accomodates an iPod or similar device and lets it be connected to the stereo system's auxiliary input. All four doors have map pockets that can also accomodate tissues, drinks, etc.

The Stella Custom (with the exception of the RS trim level) is mechanically identical to the Stella L and LX cars. Stella Custom, in both R and RS trim, has an edgier appearance, however, with a bolder grille, projector beam headlights, turn signals and marker lights moved to the bumper, and a full blackout treatment on the lower fascia opening. That opening is flanked by two huge round driving lights (think "bug-eyed" Impreza).The blown RS also gains a hood scoop.

The more aggressive look finds its way to the rear fascia as well, with dual cutouts adding character. Finally, the power retractable side mirrors on Stella Custom contain integrated signal lights. Exterior colors are much darker than those available on the regular Stella.

The interior is the same, with two exceptions: the color theme is dark charcoal and silver -- in keeping with the Stella Custom's sportier nature, and the Custom RS gets an exclusive gauge package. Everything else, from the seat configurations, to the storage areas, to the water-resistant seat fabric, is shared with the the more subdued sister car.

The Subaru Stella and Stella custom offer two distinct approaches to women's motoring. They appear to be well-thought-out little cars, and that's something that any enthusiast should be able to appreciate, regardless of gender.

[Source: Subaru Global]

Subaru Stella Custom

Stella Custom RSStella Custom RearStella Custom RS dashboardStella Custom Center Armrest w/ iPod

Subaru Stella
Stella RearStella rear door - 90-degree openingStella - interior cutawayStella - seating configured for child access by driver

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 9 Years Ago
      If this thing gets to the USA... remembering the 360. Cute car, but potentially unintended coffin. Where can I find that Justy commercial?
      • 9 Years Ago
      To bad they don't sell that little car here. 52 miles to the gallion, that is very good.
      • 9 Years Ago
      Anyone remember the Subaru Justy commercial where they compared it to a Porsche 928? I've never been a big Subaru fan but that has to be one of the best car commercials of all time.
      • 9 Years Ago
      Didn't Subaru bring a CVT transmission in the XT and Justy back in the 80's? I seem to remember that, but I could be wrong.
      • 9 Years Ago
      Very cool, can't wait till the mainland JDM makers start importing some of these JDM kei vehicles. For now, I'll be part of the lone few that have adopted the box quadratic genus in my XB. Even with the 1.5 liter, I get mileage in the mid thirties, yet can still haul as much cargo as the average mid-size SUV. On a recent trip to IKEA, the box swallowed three five drawer dressers, a queen size bed frame, a kitchen set, bar, bar stools, and 4 mirrors. Loaded as it was, it returned 34.5 mpg with A/C on the whole way and a 72-74 cruising speed. With sole exceptions of towing and huge families who needs big V6’s and V8’s?
      • 9 Years Ago
      Fabulo (#7), Its 22.5km/liter, so I just did the conversion for the post.
      • 8 Years Ago
      hey!!! thats my name!!!! hehehehe
      • 9 Years Ago
      PJ...okay I admit it...that was funny!

      Sizewise this doesn't look drastically different from the Fit or the Mazda 5 so I'm sure it would survive fine on US roads. It kind of reminds me of the Honda Fit's ugly but more practical sister. If given the choice I'd opt to go steady with the Fit but, I'd always wonder what Stella would be like....???

      • 9 Years Ago
      This article doesn't say, so I guess these are whole-developed Subaru designs, and not the almost typical re-badged other manufacturer's cars.

      I also wonder how soon it will be before the i-CVT mentioned as standard for this car "migrates" to other Subaru models.

      As far as the "anemic" horsepower figures go, the Japanese government has fixed the upper limits on cars of this engine size.
      • 9 Years Ago
      Can you imagine this car in the United States, surrounded by ditzes on cell phones attempting to pilot SUVs big enough to blot out the sun, while eating yet another supersized meal? Scary thought.

      • 9 Years Ago
      No comments yet? Then allow me to make the obligatory Stanley Kowalski mention.
      • 9 Years Ago
      So does this mean Subaru are ditching the "airplane" grille? They didn't apply it to the Legacy update either.
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