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Legacy inherits boxer turbodiesel

2008-07-23 07:15
Subaru 2-litre Boxer turbodiesel

Subaru 2-litre Boxer turbodiesel

Vehicle Specs
Manufacturer Subaru
Model Legacy Boxer diesel
Engine 2-litre turbodiesel
Power 110kW @ 3 600r/min
Torque 350Nm @ 1 800r/min
Transmission Five speed manual (six-speed end 2008)
Subaru is embracing turbodiesel technology to polish off its product portfolio in the radically changing global automotive landscape.

Although turbodiesel and Subaru might appear an oddity to those who assume the company’s range of cars begins and ends with anything WRX or STI badged, the latest 2-litre turbodiesel Legacy models still retain strong Scooby DNA.

First diesel flat-four

Subaru has retained its characteristic horizontally opposed flat-four cylinder layout for the new diesel engine. This endeavour shows it prides itself on the unique Subaru powertrain engineering heritage, despite Toyota money increasingly influencing decision making for the niche Japanese manufacturer.

Engine architecture is based on the venerable 1994cc petrol boxer engine, with a 6mm reduction in cylinder bore and 11mm increase in the length of the stroke achieving a symmetrical 86mm bore-stroke ratio and 1998cc capacity.

The ‘square’ 16-valve turbocharged engine produces 110kW and 350Nm of torque which is about class average. Performance claims are keen, with a 207km/h top speed, 0-100km/h sprint of just under nine seconds and 5.6l/100km combined cycle fuel consumption.

Subaru’s commitment to the boxer design layout is commendable, especially in an era of ever increasing design modularity. Any deviation in engine design – an in-line four arrangement, for instance - would render much of the low-centre of gravity addled all-wheel drive dynamism compromised.

With the variable vane turbocharged mounted underneath the already low slung flat-four powertplant, the Legacy diesel sports a very low centre of gravity which blends perfectly with the symmetrical all-wheel drive dynamic handling principles at the heart of Subaru’s design philosophy.

Perhaps the greatest challenge for Subaru engineers was to overcome the inherent noise, vibration and harshness characteristics of diesel engines, no-doubt acoustically amplified by the unique resonance of the boxer layout. According to Subaru the Legacy diesel has a moving sound level of just 70.5 decibels – compared to a Rolls-Royce Phantom at 72 decibels, in mitigation a much larger, atmosphere displacing car though.

Conflicting markets

Subaru is keen to capitalise on their European market presence, where their all-wheel drive technology is the perfect foil for winter-time traction compromised motoring.

Europeans are desperately keen diesel drivers, and Subaru has no doubt felt pressure in their medium segment fortunes of late being unable to offer customers a diesel alternative. This has been rectified in kind and then some with the new Legacy 2-litre turbodiesels.

Whether it makes similar sense in markets like the US and South Africa – where of late diesel is more expensive than petrol – remains to be seen.

If the new Subaru 2-litre turbodiesel engines come to South Africa it remains unlikely they would retain their near 20 000km (12 000 mile) European service intervals either, thanks in no small part to the putrid local quality of diesel fuel.


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