• Mar 1, 2011
Subaru Boxer Sports Car Architecture – Click above for high-res image gallery

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.

Follow the jump for more confirmed details and specifications about Subaru's rear-wheel-drive Boxer Sports Car.

[Source: Subaru]

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. In the meantime, hit the jump for all the details announced so far in the latest press release.
Show full PR text
Subaru Rear-Wheel-Drive Sports Car

The Rear-Wheel Drive (RWD) Sports Car, which is currently under joint development with Toyota Motor Corporation (Toyota), incorporates into a new generation sports car with an ambition to provide driving pleasure to a wider range of customers. Thanks to its "front-engine, rear-wheel drive layout", further lowered centre of gravity, compact and lightweight body and short wheel base, it delivers a new level of driving excitement with very unique crisp handling. The car will be the only existing front-engine, rear-wheel drive sports car powered by a Boxer engine in the world, by making full use of both companies' expertise: Subaru's Horizontally-Opposed Boxer engine and performance car technologies and Toyota's RWD technologies.

This new car is rooted in both companies' engineering philosophy. Subaru's engineering excellence, renowned for providing "Enjoyment and Peace of Mind" to its loyal customers, has been applied to the car's development. Subaru's idea of a front-engine, rear-wheel drive layout that was already used in the "Subaru P-1", Subaru's first prototype passenger car, as well as the expertise acquired during the development of the "Subaru XT" or of the fully-fledged speciality coupe model "Subaru SVX" were also incorporated into the model's development.

This Subaru Rear-Wheel Drive Sports Car, as Subaru's first mass-produced front-engine, rear-wheel drive model, is expected to be produced in spring 2012 at a Subaru production plant in Japan.

Subaru's Development Philosophy and the Rear-Wheel-Drive Model

Ever since Subaru started building cars, Subaru's objective has always been that of providing customers with enjoyment and peace of mind. Subaru's development philosophy lies at the heart of each and every model ever produced, offering customers an assurance of driving "Confidence". With such a consistent approach to the development of cars, Subaru has released a range of unique, innovative products to suit the requirements of customers at any point in automotive history, some of which include cars with Rear-Wheel, Front-Wheel and All -Wheel drivetrains.

Subaru developed the Subaru P-1, its first prototype passenger car, in 1954. To create a car that delivered a comfortable ride, Subaru determined that it needed to have an excellent suspension system and a lightweight, rigid body. To achieve this, a front-engine, rear-wheel drive layout was used for the drivetrain and chassis, and a full monocoque design for the body – the first of its kind in Japan. Powered by a 1.5-litre engine, the classic 4-door sedan Subaru P-1 prototype was produced in its dozens. Although it never made it to the market, the Subaru P-1 was considered the forefront of innovative Subaru engineering.

Some of the pioneering features found in the Subaru P-1 included an independent wishbone suspension system at the front, and a proprietary lightweight and rigid, full monocoque body design developed with the aid of aircraft technology born from the very origins of Subaru. Expertise and development philosophies that were raised during this time blossomed into a range of innovative ideas and advanced technologies that would later be applied to the development of the "Subaru 360", Japan's very own mini car for the public at large. These key concepts also found their way into the "Subaru 1000", the earliest Front-Wheel Drive model to be powered by Subaru's first Horizontally-Opposed Boxer engine, and other All-Wheel Dive (AWD) models used as the base platform for passenger cars. Indeed, these concepts continue uninterrupted to this day with the subsequent development of Subaru's current distinctive crossover models.

Technology Exhibit: "BOXER Sports Car Architecture"

Behind the new level of driving excitement and pleasure that the RWD Sports Car delivers is its new platform technology, built around Subaru's key component – the Horizontally-Opposed Subaru Boxer engine. A new platform has been developed based on Subaru's renowned AWD model package in order to extract the maximum performance potential required of the RWD Sports Car. The "BOXER Sports Car Architecture" represents a proposal of Subaru's new definition of driving excitement.

Subaru Boxer engine

At the heart of this Technology Exhibit is Subaru Boxer engine. It is its lightweight, compact and low centre of gravity that lends itself to the level of driving excitement that Subaru is aiming for, and is without a doubt the most suitable engine for the RWD Sports Car. The Subaru Boxer engine can be constructed of aluminium owing to its compact and rigid engine design, making for a much lighter power unit. Its low centre of gravity provides a high level of driving stability and remarkable handling. Since the piston's opposing movements inherently counteract each other, no balance shaft is needed. This cancels out excess vibrations and gives the engine a sprightly, sporty feel at virtually any engine speed. Needless to say, the Subaru Boxer engine has certain underlying characteristics that make it suitable for such sporty driving.

In the BOXER Sports Car Architecture, Subaru's Boxer engine, which originally features a low centre of gravity and optimum weight balance, is even lowered and set back further towards the centre of the chassis. This feature also offers a low-profile sports car silhouette with its lowered engine hood design, resulting in a lowered driving position. All these elements deliver excellent driveability, stability as well as handling performance.

Optimised Chassis Layout for the RWD Sports Car

Another important factor that enables the RWD Sports Car to deliver driving performance befitting of a Subaru is its chassis. Rather than simply developing a frame and body that focuses purely on speed, development has been conducted to produce a chassis that delivers Subaru's authentic driving characteristics: a sporty driving experience, an overall enjoyable ride, and stable drivability with driver confidence. The result is that the tyres follow every subtle variation in the road surface and that it responds exactly to the driver's input. The BOXER Sports Car Architecture does not depend solely on engine power output – 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. Subaru's distinctive suspension setup has been used, incorporating struts at the front, and a double-wishbone layout at the rear, to provide outstanding stability and control.

When compared to other Subaru AWD models, the engine now sits even lower and further back in the engine bay. A lower centre of gravity, now located further toward the middle of the chassis itself, gives optimum front-rear weight balance for a RWD sports car. Drivers will discover a remarkable, natural feel when cornering, giving new level of driving excitement. A short front overhang, matched with a shorter rear overhang reduces any yaw moment of inertia generated, and provides a higher level of stability and control, and handling performance of a pure sports car.

The RWD Sports Car's platform technology adds a completely new package to complement Subaru's existing AWD platform. This package will open Subaru's renowned on-road performance to a broader range of customers. At the heart of this drivability lies Subaru's engineering philosophy that constantly provides enjoyment and peace of mind. The "BOXER Sports Car Architecture" is a technical masterpiece that has been designed so that drivers can fully enjoy Subaru's new approach to driving pleasure, with the full knowledge that they are constantly supported with the sense of confidence that only a Subaru can provide.

Major Specifications of "BOXER Sports Car Architecture":
Body size (Overall: Length x Width x Height): 4,200 x 1,770 x 1,270 mm
Wheelbase: 2,570 mm
Engine: 2.0-liter naturally-aspirated four cylinder Horizontally-Opposed Boxer engine
Tire size: 215/45R17

I'm reporting this comment as:

Reported comments and users are reviewed by Autoblog staff 24 hours a day, seven days a week to determine whether they violate Community Guideline. Accounts are penalized for Community Guidelines violations and serious or repeated violations can lead to account termination.

    • 1 Second Ago
      • 3 Years Ago
      Subaru building a non AWD car is like Porsche building a sedan or Jeep building a CUV.
      • 3 Years Ago
      Whoever said all Subaru WRXs and Sti's understeer horribly is a complete moron and has obviously never driven an Sti before. I own an 05 myself, and I can assure you my car oversteers with ease. It comes down to the driver and how you modulate your throttle numb nuts.
      • 3 Years Ago
      I'd say this car has officially been overhyped.

      • 3 Years Ago
      I dig it. Mostly because it's RWD.

      AWD is great on low-traction surfaces or in a video game, but in the real world powering all four wheels comes at a cost. AWD adds weight, reduces steering feel, increases fuel consumption, and increases understeer. In a car with modest power output (~200hp) it likely won't help acceleration figures unless you're dumping the clutch at high RPM. That stuff works for the magazine staff because they get to give the car back at the end of the week. If you own the car and don't like replacing transmissions you won't be doing that stuff on the street.

      Since Subaru/Toyota are after a pure sports car experience, it makes sense to save weight and switch to RWD-only. If they get the driving dynamics right and price it below the 370Z/Genesis Coupe this could be a real winner.
        • 3 Years Ago
        A proper AWD system will always help your acceleration when there is some dirt, snow or sand on the road, not to mention when there's no road at all. There is nothing that can beat a proper AWD car in handling when the going gets uneven, and when you can't quite control and push your car, efficiency and even dynamics are a second priority. AWD is never added to kill an otherwise fine car, but rather to improve its handling (and hence, dynamics) under less than ideal conditions.

        This car as it is presented now, is going to target entirely different buyers than current Subaru enthusiasts, and those buyers will most probably be quite happy with the Toyota version, so it is only natural to wonder why Subaru is not using its traditional, acclaimed strengths for differentiating its variant from the very similar car made by Toyota which already has a strong and credible record of producing RWD coupes.
      • 3 Years Ago
      Yeah, yeah, yeah it's pretty disappointing that it's not a 300hp AWD pocket rally monster, but think about how much that would cost to have developed and bring to market.

      To all those saying it's not differentiated enough from the Toyota version, who seem to want this to be a brand-new coupe version of the STI, that product would make even less sense from Subaru's perspective, since it would cost $$$ to develop and would compete directly with a low-volume halo model in most consumers' minds...

      Clearly Subaru developed this in a cost-effective way, which (in a way) sucks, but was likely the only way this thing is coming to market. Plus... C'mon, TWO brand new, affordable, lightweight RWD coupes and car enthusiasts are complaining?!?!?
      • 3 Years Ago
      Front MacPherson strut setup. Sadly this time around I was hoping more from Subaru than just the regular plain/jane el-cheapo front suspension setup, especially since this is supposed to be more of a handling car as opposed to ballz out performance.
      • 3 Years Ago
      Yes, RWD........
      • 3 Years Ago
      With modern crash/rollover/pedestrian regs, there is no way this thing is going to be light enough such that a small n/a 2.0L will make it perform well.

      No turbo=Fail.
      • 3 Years Ago
      Please make it look less gaudy than toyotas and I will write my check tomorrow.
      • 3 Years Ago
      ...Once again proving that GM are a bunch of nimrods. This car already exists -- or rather, it *used* to exist: It's called the Opel GT, Saturn Sky, Pontiac Solstice and Daewoo G2X; the so-called "Kappa" cars. But when GM went 'tango uniform' and had to be bailed out to the tune of billions USD, they were forced to lop off some branches. So...they kept Buick (wtf?!?) and killed both Saturn and Pontiac...and the Kappas went down with the ship. This left the GM brands with exactly two muscle/sports cars among them: The Corvette and the Camaro, and exactly zero 2-seater roadsters. All this opens the door to a lucrative market. Some may argue for the other Asian two-seater roadsters; but, clearly the low-riding, 'mounted on rails' handling of the Scion FR-S and this Toyota/Subaru entry are the clones of Kappa. Good on ya, Japan, for recognizing (once again) what GM were too stupid to recognize. And to GM: Good luck selling dinosaurs, and ugly, plasticky "luxury" cars (Buick) that have nothing to offer anyone, least of all actual luxury.
      • 3 Years Ago
      no turbo...rear wheel drive...with 2.0???? what a shame i thought subaru was well more relevant on what people like. they are about as outta touch on this one as gahdafi in libya. either give this car a big V8 and turn it into a muscle car(wouldnt buy that anyways,already have my eyes on another one) with rear wheel drive or give us what we hoped for a AWD turbo engined sports coupe.
      • 3 Years Ago
      this thing will only fail if it ends up costing as much, or nearly as much as a WRX, which, honestly, wouldn't surprise me.
    • Load More Comments