Subaru Stella / Stella Custom

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