Auto blogMon, 25 Aug 2014 09:57:00 EST
A month after originally teasing it, Subaru is finally unveiling its WRX S4 model for Japan. It's a bit more than just a plush take on the sport sedan, because Subaru is fitting a more powerful version of the 2.0-liter, turbocharged boxer four-cylinder engine than we get on these shores.
The company says that S4 stands for "'Sports performance', 'Safety performance', 'Smart driving' and 'Sophisticated feel," and it certainly looks like this Rex ticks all of those boxes. The most surprising feature is the Japanese model's 2.0-liter turbo engine boasting 296 horsepower (221 kilowatts) and 295 pound-feet (400 Newton-meters) of torque in this application. That's quite a healthy upgrade over the 268 hp and 258 lb-ft that Americans get in the standard WRX, and it's even nipping at the heels of the 305 hp and 290 lb-ft from the STI with a 2.5-liter mill that we get over here.
While extra power is always welcome, enthusiasts might not be so thrilled that Subaru's Sport Lineartronic Continuously Variable Transmission is the sedan's only available gearbox. However, it offers a simulated eight-speed shifting mode when drivers notch the car into Sport# driving mode. Of course, the S4 also packs Subie's trademark all-wheel drive with Vehicle Dynamics Control and Active Torque Vectoring as standard.
The Subaru Legacy and Outback are the latest vehicles to be awarded the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety's most prestigious safety title, Top Safety Pick+.
As we've explained many times before, this only applies vehicles that can score an "Acceptable" or "Good" rating on the five IIHS crash tests and earn at least a "Basic" rating for crash prevention systems.
In the Legacy's case, it totally aced IIHS's testing, earning "Good" scores on the small overlap, front moderate overlap, side impact, roof crush and rear impact tests, while also bringing home the top "Superior" rating for its optional EyeSight system.
Literally minutes after snapping the photo you see above, I was soaked - hit by the third round of storms that brought absolutely insane rainfall to Detroit this week. Amateur mistake, right there; if it looks like rain's a-comin', it's a-comin'. So if you're going to take pictures of the car, do it before it's too late.
But the thing is, I was having way too much fun driving around the suddenly empty streets of Detroit to worry about handling my photo shoot in a timely manner. Folks had been cautioned to stay off the roads ever since the rain first hit. Floods had shut down several of our major freeways, not to mention many surface streets. The threat of more severe weather had put caution in the air, forcing folks to batten down the hatches and settle in for even more horrendously wet weather.
The long-term 2015 Subaru WRX, however, eats this stuff up with a passion. Inclement weather? The turbocharged, all-wheel-drive, endlessly grippy Subaru just wants to play. And after getting to know our WR Blue WRX since its delivery in June and solidifying my belief that it's a total riot, even around town, I was not about to ignore Rex's desires to go play in the rain and make mischief on the deserted streets. Empty on-ramp antics were great fun, and tossing the car around corners in the wet showed no signs of slip. Ever. Wet hair and a damp t-shirt? Worth it.
The Subaru WRX STI breaking the automotive lap record at the Isle of Man might be just the beginning of the headlines trumpeting a Subaru racecar. According to the latest rumors, the Japanese brand is looking at taking motorsports more seriously in the future. That could possibly even mean endurance racing at Le Mans.
According to Auto Express, the brand is mulling a greater participation in motorsport, but the big question is where. The World Rally Championship isn't a certainty because it now favors smaller cars like the Volkswagen Polo. Subaru still competes in series like Rally America and Global Rallycross, but there are bigger stages to play on.
What's interesting, is that this commitment to motorsports comes right as the automaker is denying plans to build a small CUV for its passenger car lineup. According to Auto Express, the company has no intention of developing a crossover smaller than the current XV Crosstrek. Even if the sales are there, it would just cost too much to develop. In the US, at least, the XV is doing great with sales up 42 percent in July.
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.