Auto blogFri, 25 Jul 2014 09:15:00 EST
The Subaru WRX range is growing just a little bit larger, at least in Japan, with the automaker's teasing announcement of a new version called the S4. Unfortunately, the company is keeping details about its latest all-wheel drive sport sedan a closely guarded secret for the moment.
From what we can glean, it appears that the S4 might be a more luxurious take on the WRX. According to the release, the name stands for the four qualities that Subaru wants the sedan to have: "'Sports performance', 'Safety performance', 'Smart driving' and 'Sophisticated feel.'" As part of this focus, the car comes with the company's EyeSight camera system. Thankfully, we don't have too long to wait to find out what all of the buzz words actually mean because Subaru is unveiling the S4 on August 25 in Japan.
The automaker also launched a teaser website for the S4 that you can cheek out, here, but at the moment it doesn't provide any more details about the new sport sedan. The site just has countdown until the August reveal. There's also no indication yet whether this potentially more premium WRX could make it US shores. Scroll down to read the Subaru's rather concise teaser for the upcoming S4.
It's not every day that a Subaru and an Audi can be reasonably compared head-to-head; the two brands tend not to compete directly in their respective segments. However, the latest WRX STI and the S3 Sedan offer the perfect chance to find out if the working-class Scooby can beat its upper-crust competitor.
The UK's Auto Express gets behind the wheel of these two all-wheel drive performance sedans, or saloons as the Brits call them. Across the pond, both of them are rated at an identical 296 horsepower, but the Subaru edges out the Four Rings on torque. Like in the US, British buyers have to pay a little more to get the Audi, but it comes with a nicer interior and more brand cachet, if that means anything to you.
The video starts out with a fairly standard road test comparing the two of them back-to-back - all fairly subjective. But then Auto Express takes the trip to the drag strip, and the results there are much more conclusive. There's a definite winner when they cross the line, but you have to scroll down to see which of these turbocharged models with rallying heritage wins out.
A recently filed lawsuit in federal court against Subaru of America and its parent Fuji Heavy Industries claims that several recent models burn an excessive amount of oil. The case, which is seeking class-action status, covers examples of the 2011-2014 Forester, 2013 Legacy and 2013 Outback with the 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine and the 2012-2013 Impreza and 2013 XV Crosstrek with the 2.0-liter four-cylinder.
The suit alleges that Subaru knew about the excessive oil consumption but didn't fix the problem, according to USA Today. It contends that owners have to spend an unreasonable amount of money to keep these models topped up with Texas tea, and that the people represented wouldn't have bought the vehicle if they had known that this could happen.
As proof of Subaru's knowledge of excessive oil use, the lawsuit cites four technical service bulletins from the company telling dealers about the issue, although, that would seem to partially invalidate the claim that the automaker hasn't attempted to fix things. The case was filed on behalf of two men, one with a 2014 Forester and the other with a 2013 Outback. "Following an extensive investigation, we now look forward to litigating the case," said Matthew Schelkopf, an attorney for the plaintiffs, to USA Today.
A good partner makes sacrifices for a significant other. They aren't always fun, but sometimes chores have to be done. Subaru's European ad for its new WRX STI clearly understands that dynamic, as it shows what to what lengths a guy is willing to go in order to get his lady some bread in time for breakfast. Of course, running errands in a turbocharged, all-wheel-drive sports sedan down picturesque roads is hardly drudgery.
The wordless ad for the WRX STI says everything you could ever want to know about the winged blue Subaru. It expertly mixes some fantastic gravel rally footage with just a bit of inspiration from Ken Block's Gymkhana videos, as well. The automaker makes the right choice of actually letting the audience hear the growly exhaust and squealing tires over the music, too.
If this was your daily route to the bakery, you'd probably be prepared for a round of the World Rally Championship within a couple of months. Scroll down to watch the Subaru ad about a very polite WRX STI owner making sure breakfast is on the table.
We have one more automaker to chalk up recalling Takata airbag inflators. Subaru is now throwing its hat in the ring by repairing 8,557 vehicles nationwide for faulty front passenger inflators. According to the Defect Notice from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the problem affects 3,151 examples of the Legacy, Outback and Baja from the 2003 and 2004 model years and 5,406 units of the Impreza, including the WRX and STI (pictured above), from the 2004 model year.
As we all know by now, it's possible for the inflators to explode during airbag deployment possibly affecting not only the bag's inflation but also potentially spraying metal shrapnel at occupants. All of the affected vehicles will receive new passenger side inflators at no charge to the owner.
Seven automakers in the US announced recalls for the problem in late June affecting an estimated 2.1 million vehicles. Unlike some of the companies, Subaru is repairing all of the affected models in the US, rather just in certain warm-weather states. According to company spokesperson Michael McHale to Autoblog the reason is that "it was simpler to get everybody in there and make sure it was done." The replacement inflators should be in by the end of July, he said. Scroll down to read the recall report from NHTSA or download the full defect notice as a PDF, here.
Hallelujah friends, hallelujah. One of the highest voices in Subaru's parent company, Fuji Heavy Industries, has just said that the boxer-obsessed automaker will release a second generation of the lovable BRZ.
Yasuyuki Yoshinaga, president of FHI, has summarily shot down assertions made by Tetsuya Tada, the chief engineer for the Toyota GT86. In a recent interview with an Australian publication, Tada claimed that Subaru had not decided whether it would be involved in the followup effort to the rear-drive coupe, and even speculated that the Toyota could team with BMW for a second-gen car, instead.
"If I were to be told that, I'd pass out. It's not going to be just one generation," Yoshinaga-san told Automotive News.
Subaru is recalling 660,238 vehicles located in 20 US states that use salt on their roads. It's possible that salty water could splash onto the rear brake lines, and it could eventually cause corrosion and potentially perforation, leading to a fluid leak.
The recall covers the 2005-2009 Outback and Legacy, 2008-2011 Impreza, 2008-2014 WRX and STI and 2009-2013 Forester. However, only vehicles currently or formerly registered in the following snowy US states or districts are covered: Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, West Virginia, Wisconsin and the District of Columbia. The company previously recalled the 2005-2009 Legacy and Outback to repair this problem, and now it's added the additional models, plus any of the original cars it missed the first time.
According to the defect notice from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Subaru found a total of 24 cases of corrosion in US leading up to the recall. There was a single case of actual brake line perforation, but it happened in Switzerland, according to the document. The company believes that it would take seven or more seasons of winter driving on salty roads before any corroding would begin.
When you think of iconic off-road brands, where does Subaru fall on your radar? Somewhere in the middle? Perhaps near the bottom? Don't worry, you're not alone. Until recently spending some time in Bend, OR, where we drove the all-new 2015 Subaru Outback, we never really pegged the Japanese automaker to be a highly lauded brand among off-road enthusiasts, despite many of the company's products actually being quite capable when the going gets rough.
But the data says we're wrong. According to a 2013 J.D. Power study, Subaru vehicles have some of the highest use off road compared to other brands - of course "off road" here just means anything not on a paved road, so even gravel trails and tame two-tracks count in these statistics. Nearly 29.5 percent of its cars are used on trails and dirt roads, with only the Ram and Jeep brands besting that statistic, at 30.2 and 31.0 percent, respectively. Said another way, Subaru sold 424,683 vehicles in the US in 2013, meaning that some 125,281 saw off-road use. Mainstream brands like GMC, Ford and Chevrolet all trail Subaru, and even Land Rover comes in at less than 20 percent.
Some 34.7 percent of Outbacks are taken off paved roads, according to J.D. Power data.
"We like producing cars that are different." That's the company line trumpeted by several Subaru executives during the launch of the 2015 Outback - one of Fuji Heavy's most successful vehicles to date. Managing Editor Jeremy Korzeniewski accurately noted that while Subaru has never really found salvation with its mainstream sedans, it's the higher-riding, butcher offerings like the Outback and the Impreza-based XV Crosstrek that have been sales stars for the Japanese company. In 2013, for example, Subaru sold nearly three Outbacks for every Legacy it moved. And in 2014, the XV is on pace to outsell the Impreza upon which its based.
But Subarus have always been different, catering to unique customers that desire something a bit more special than your run-of-the-mill sedan or crossover. It's clearly worked, with Subaru having posted 30 months of year-over-year sales increases as of this writing. And even as the automaker's portfolio goes more mainstream, smoothing out its serially awkward styling and gunning for a larger market share here in the United States, that intrinsic Subaru differentiation is still baked in to each and every product.
It's that new Outback we're here to talk about today, a vehicle that's been comprehensively redesigned for the 2015 model year while not shaking up the formula that's made it successful since its inception in the mid-1990s, back when it (arguably) launched what we now know as the crossover utility vehicle segment. It's still plenty different - and plenty good, too.
Have you gotten sick of Subaru and the Isle of Man? Good, we'd hope not, because of all the videos we've posted so far, today's is the crown jewel. In-car, around the notoriously treacherous race track, with commentary from David Higgins himself.
It gets better, though. Overlaid with the video is the same biometric data that we showed you last week. The result is a heart-pumping, 22-minute video of the record-breaking sprint around the entirety of the Isle of Man TT circuit at a truly wild pace. Higgins commentary, meanwhile, simply adds to the experience of hurtling across the landscape. Subaru has also put together a second video, highlighting the WRX STI that was used in the lap.
You can view both of those videos, as well as a short press release from Subaru, below. Scroll down and take a look.