Visitors to the Johannesburg Motor Show will take a tantalizing step into the future when they visit the Subaru Southern Africa stand… and that future is decidedly green.
The company will display a foray of green technology – from a dead sexy hybrid tourer to green engine and transmission technology.
First the hybrid – which is sure to draw the crowds. It’s the Subaru Hybrid Tourer Concept, which elevates hybrids from “hey ho” to “hello handsome” status. It’s not just green; it also offers superb driving dynamics and boasts impeccable safety credentials.
The exterior of the Subaru Hybrid Tourer Concept is sure to put a spring into the step of even the most exhausted motor show visitor; Subaru’s gullwing doors are nothing short of drop-dead gorgeous. As is the trend with concept cars today, the design features lots of bright, open glass areas.
Naturally, the stunning exterior is matched to a luxurious and comfortable cabin, which boasts four independent and comfortably positioned seats. Passengers are enclosed within an atmosphere that provides an unsurpassed feeling of openness. Through clever packaging of the All-Wheel Drive system, a flat floor design has been created, and this allows increased leg room for rear seat passengers.
It incorporates a number of fabulous innovations – such as the dashboard. The top of the dash can be moved up and down to provide an optimal driving environment for the driver according to driving conditions. Specialized shielding is incorporated in the windshield to reduce eyestrain on the driver. The seats incorporate a ventilation function for improved comfort.
In keeping with virtually every modern Subaru on the planet, the Hybrid Tourer Concept incorporates Subaru’s core technology such as Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive and the company’s horizontally-opposed Boxer engine. But a number of additional enhancements were made for improved environmental friendliness, driving performance and high safety performance.
For instance, the car is equipped with a 2,0-litre horizontally-opposed turbocharged petrol engine, which offers terrific torque, superb acceleration properties combined with a direct fuel-injection system for improvements in fuel efficiency and reduced emissions. It is coupled to two auxiliary electric motors, one placed at each axle. The motor at front has an output of 10 kW while the rear motor churns out 20 kW.
The rear motor is used exclusively during low-speed driving. During acceleration, the rear motor assists the driving power of the engine to achieve advanced driving performance. When accelerating uphill, the front motor (which is normally used as a power generator) assists to drive the front axle for improved performance.
A stop-start function stops the engine when the car comes to a halt to further reduce fuel consumption.
The car also utilises a high-performance lithium battery, similar to the one in the Subaru Plug-in STELLA electric vehicle. It also boasts a precise energy management system and regenerative brake controls, for additional improvements in fuel efficiency.
The Subaru Hybrid Tourer Concept incorporates Lineartronic, Subaru’s new generation Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT). This innovative transmission technology, which is also available in the Outback and Legacy, has been engineered to function perfectly with the Subaru Boxer engine and Subaru Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive. What’s more, its design is lightweight to help keep the vehicle agile, and compact to make the interior more spacious.
Lineartronic CVT has been proven to reduce fuel consumption – thanks to the fact that it uses a step-less gear ratio, which allows an engine to run in its optimal power range for improved fuel economy and performance. It can be left in the automatic mode (the gearless transmission will infinitely adjust to match the driver’s acceleration needs, thereby eliminating the need to shift, which preserves the vehicle’s momentum that can be lost when a conventional automatic transmission shifts gears). Alternatively Lineartronic CVT comes standard with a six-speed manual mode, complete with paddle shifters mounted at the driver’s fingertips. It comes in handy for confidently merging onto the highway, passing other cars, or descending hills, as well as making the driving experience feel sharper and sportier.
The Subaru Hybrid Tourer Concept also features Subaru’s unique driving assist system, EyeSight, with vehicle-to-vehicle and road-to-vehicle communication technology. EyeSight includes an assist collision prevention support system that uses its unique stereo camera technology to recognize a wide range of driving conditions. This next-generation driver assistance system provides improved safety and peace-of-mind for passengers, and represents a major evolution in collision detection performance.
EyeSight uses a stereo camera and a specialized 3D image processing engine, and it excels at pre-collision safety through the recognition of both pedestrians and cyclists. The system also continuously detects vehicles that move into and out of blind spots, and advises the driver on appropriate driving manoeuvres.
Subaru will introduce its first hybrid models in 2012.
FROM HYBRIDS TO ENGINES
Subaru is committed to the development of three green technologies: hybrid vehicles, diesel engines and an improvement in its petrol engine’s fuel efficiency.
Yet another green highlight of the Subaru Southern Africa stand is the FB engine. Subaru has long used the horizontally-opposed engine layout as the core power unit for its cars. In this unique engine layout, the pistons fire away each other from the central crankshaft, in much the same way as a boxer punches his arms – hence the name Boxer engine. And this is the third generation Subaru Boxer engine.
This new engine comes one step closer to perfecting one of Subaru’s key driving concepts: green, eco-friendly performance. In fact, its inclusion on the latest Forester has seen fuel efficiency improved by approximately 10%, resulting in a CO2 improvement of around 12%. This all-new engine is also deployed in the brand new Subaru XV.
But what makes the engine particularly green? The first factor is the reduced friction. In the simplest of terms, this means that parts can be moved with less force – and subsequently less energy. Naturally, this results in better fuel economy. Secondly, the intake system has improved – which means the engine breathes air easier. The FB engine also has a different bore and stroke – the latest engine features a long stroke design, which is advantageous to combustion. Furthermore, an EGR gas cooling function has been added. Reduced pumping loss results, which means better fuel efficiency. Even the ports and valves in the engine have been reshaped to deliver maximum fuel efficiency and cleaner exhaust gases.
Subaru has also focused specifically on the development of its diesel engines – after all, diesel engines have a number of advantages when it comes to fuel economy and lower CO2 emissions – especially when it comes to long-distance driving. As such, Subaru continues to refine its unique Boxer diesel engine to meet further customers’ needs.
Just one example is the new Subaru Forester, which now features a diesel engine for the first time. Subaru’s new 2.0-litre turbocharged Boxer diesel engine is inherently smooth, with less vibration and clatter than one would expect from a conventional diesel engine. It delivers 110 kW of power at 3 600 r/min and a whopping 350 Nm of torque at 1 800 to 2 400 r/min. Coupled to a six-speed manual transmission, it is also extremely economical – and thus green.
Subaru Southern Africa’s stand conveys a convincing message: its future is green and that green technology is available – here and now.