In an age where benchmarking the technologies of competitors has become a norm in the automotive industry, it is refreshing to know that there is a carmaker which has stayed true to its unique and innovative path.
While attractive aesthetics are sought after in new cars, every Subaru model, whether it’s the versatile XV crossover or the rally-bred WRX STI, goes beyond the looks and is engineered with technologies that are core to the brand, setting them apart from other mass manufacturers.
At the heart of every car is the engine, and under every bonnet of a Subaru is a Boxer engine. Unlike most mass manufacturers that go with the popular inline cylinder configuration, Subaru believes that the Boxer engine – where the pistons are horizontally-opposed in a 180-degree layout – offers the optimal driving enjoyment.
This unique ‘flat’ configuration also counterbalances the vibration from each bank of cylinders, ensuring a smooth and refined response across the rev range.
The compact and short dimensions of the Boxer engine allow it to be mounted lower compared to conventional inline four-cylinders, thus contributing to a low centre of gravity inherent in all Subaru models.
As a result, body roll is better suppressed, along with a positive impact on overall handling as well.
The Subaru four-wheel drive system differs from most others in that its powertrain; comprising the Boxer engine and all-wheel drive transmission, is symmetrically aligned in a straight line with the transmission located near the centre of the vehicle.
This arrangement spreads the weight of the powertrain evenly and helps all four wheels optimise their already impressive full-time all-wheel drive traction.
Additionally, the full-time all-wheel drive system present in Subaru vehicles is not only smarter than part-time AWD-based systems found in many other brands, but its active torque-split AWD system reacts far quicker to changes in road conditions, speed and driver inputs, and is able to vary the torque distribution to each individual wheel in real time.
This is especially useful in dynamic situations when the wheels encounter varying levels of grip, such as inconsistent surfaces and wet roads.
For an even higher level of four-wheel drive performance and control, all the driver needs to do is to engage X-Mode before taking on challenging conditions such as slippery undulations or terrain, be it uphill or downhill (by way of Hill Descend Control).
By directly manipulating the engine, transmission, Symmetrical AWD and brakes at the same time, X-Mode is able to further maximise Subaru’s AWD capabilities.
Sometimes a pair of eyes simply isn’t enough, which is why Subaru developed EyeSight – a suite of advanced driver-assist technologies designed to avert an accident from happening, or to mitigate its effects. EyeSight utilises two cameras and intelligent algorithms to identify and recognise surroundings, including traffic and pedestrians, and to react to situations which are deemed dangerous.
These preventive features include Adaptive Cruise Control, Pre-collision Braking, Pre-collision Throttle Management, Lane Departure and Lane Sway Warning and Lead Vehicle Start Alert.
When Adaptive Cruise Control is activated, the system alerts the driver first and then slows (or accelerates) the vehicle to help maintain a safe, pre-set distance to the vehicle ahead when cruising. Pre-collision Braking functions in similar fashion; it scans for obstacles up front, warns the driver and then brakes the vehicle if needed.
In the unlikely event of a misapplication of throttle from idle, a Subaru vehicle equipped with Eyesight is able to stop the vehicle from lurching forward if the system senses an obstacle ahead.
Apart from detecting moving objects, the EyeSight cameras is also able to identify lane markings and alerts the driver when he/she sways from the intended path. Lastly, EyeSight is also capable of notifying the driver that a stationary vehicle up front had already pulled ahead.
EyeSight works in tandem with Auto Vehicle Hold and Subaru Rear Vehicle Detection (SRVD) to further expand the scope of active safety to include Blind Spot Detection, Lane Change Assist and Rear Cross Traffic Alert. At present, EyeSight is offered in the Outback and will be available in the forthcoming all-new Forester.
All the innovative technologies would not be able to shine if they are not anchored on a solid foundation, which is why Subaru channeled all its expertise and experience to develop the ‘next-generation’ Global Platform to underpin every new Subaru model.
Not only is this the safest platform Subaru ever developed – incorporating high rigidity with superior energy absorption in the event of a crash – it is also the basis of driving enjoyment and comfort.
With the Subaru Global Platform, it is no longer the case of gaining some benefits but compromising on others. New models hailing from the Subaru Global Platform (such as the new XV) are fun to drive while being comfortable and refined to ride in at the same time – virtues that used to be mutually exclusive but are now in perfect harmony.