How alike the histories of car factories are! Just like other japanese enterprises Subaru has also arisen from engine construction and heavy industry respectively. The true origin 'owes' - as applies, e.g., to BMW as well - to the aircraft construction ban by the World War II winners.
Also the range of products does not differ in the beginning from that of other car manufacturers. Typical for this time is the mini-transporter 360 with small cubic capacity. The resemblance of engine and car body is also caused by strict legal regulations in that time. Only in 1972 the winning of a tender for a four-wheel-drive vehicle changes the situation.
It may be interesting as well that around this time all the competitors tried to find the gap in the market. To be mentioned as best example is Mazda and the Wankel engine to which they stick till today. For Subaru it is the four-wheel drive mentioned above. Different from Mazda, they successively change over all their models to that technology, so underlining their belief.
They kept up to this until recently. In the beginning to be switched on or off, 4WD becomes permanent later. Not completely without contradiction since cross-country driving and low ground clearance exclude each other. Have you ever seen how in Iceland for example they salvage such - even new - cars after an unsuccessful attempt to cross a river? They fix the towrope somewhere in the middle of the river and then virtually pull out the parts individually!
Certainly the Subaru company is not responsible for their customers underestimating river depth. One should not misinterprete the know-how that is in these cars. Not only the 4WD, but among other things also the durability receive good marks from all the testers. From the technical point of view Subaru makes use of the newest developments in the area of 4WD technology, e.g. no braking action in combination with ESP any more, but individual accelleration of the wheels.
Another, technically very likeable specific feature is the opposed cylinder engine used almost exclusively. There is probably no criticism at such a choice as a front engine if the manufacturer keeps an eye on the the costs. Regarded among experts as well is the world`s first opposed engine with direct Diesel injection. Maybe this is a way to do without offset shafts?
Let`s have a small summary. A company which is very profitable at least for a longer period of time offers vehicles of good quality, stating their 4WD adds to safety. One may have his own thoughts about their symmetry theory. Viewed from above, is a car with opposed cylinder engine in front better than one with V-or in-line engine?
Without any doubt, a more level front end and a lower centre of gravity are possible. However, the remaining definitions may soon chain the company. It is a special japanese characteristic that the companies are linked together and so are Subaru and Toyota. So it happens that a compact car with Subaru engine is named 'Justy', carrying the Toyota daughter company Daihatsu`s logo! Since long years, this is Subaru`s first step away from 4WD. 04/09