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[ O T H E R C A R S ]
Subaru ( スバル ) is the automobile manufacturing division of Fuji Heavy Industries ( FHI ).
Models: Lucra; Pleo; R1; R1e; R2; Stella & Vivio.
[ 2009 – 2015 ]
Due to Subaru’s strengthened alliance with Daihatsu & Toyota, announced on April 16th 2008, the company launched the Subaru Lucra & Lucra Custom models. Essentially, the Lucra is a rebadged Daihatsu Tanto Exe, and the Lucra Custom is a rebadged Daihatsu Tanto Exe Custom. The Custom is a more sports-oriented version of the Tanto Exe with sports styling, and were both launched simultaneously. The Daihatsu models were discontinued in 2014, with the Subaru models following suit in 2015.
[ 1990 ~]
1st Generation: RA1 / RA2 / RV1 / RV2 ( 1998 – 2009 )
The Subaru built Pleo 1st Generation was made from October 9th 1998 to December 2009 and was a replacement for the Subaru Vivio. It has since undergone 4 upgrades, in 2000, 2001, 2002, and another in 2010. The name ‘Pleo‘ is Latin meaning ‘to fill‘ or ‘fulfill‘. The Pleo is taller than conventional kei-car hatchbacks, but shorter than the definitive microvan, and is available with a variety of 658cc inline 4-cylinder engines. SOHC, DOHC, and supercharged engines in 2 different trim levels are offered.
June 1999, Subaru launched a luxurious edition of the Pleo, called the Nesta. In October, a sporty edition was launched, called the LS. In December, an Le Edition was launched.
May 2000, Subaru launched a G Edition of the Pleo Nesta. In October, the first facelifted edition was launched. In December, a retro-styled edition called the Niccoto was launched.
May 2001, a more upgraded sporty version of the Pleo was launched, called the RS. This model is sometimes called the RM. In October, a second facelifted edition was launched.
January 2002, the L Plus Package & F Special editions were both launched. In May, three 4WD editions, the RS Limited II, the LS Limited and the F Limited, were launched to commemorate Subaru’s 4WD’s 40th Anniversary. In October, a third facelifted edition was launched.
May 2003, four editions of the Pleo, the FS Limited, the FS Special, the L Special and the Nesta GS Special, were launched. In June, the RS Limited & LS Limited were both facelifted. Meanwhile, a new edition of the Pleo, the L Special Colour Selection, was launched. The R2, was introduced on December 8th. After 2003, the Pleo was sold alongside the R2.
June 2007, the ‘F‘ model was discontinued. The discontinuation left the Van ‘A‘ model as the only trim level.
December 2009, the Pleo was discontinued.
Subaru Pleo 2G:
2nd Generation: L275F / L285F / L275B / L285B ( 2010 ~)
The 2nd Generation Pleo first went on sale in Japan on April 20th 2010. Due to Subaru’s corporate investment by Toyota, this 2nd Generation is manufactured by Daihatsu instead of Subaru, and is a rebadged Daihatsu Mira.
Subaru ‘R1 / R1e‘
[ 2005 – 2010 ]
The Subaru R1 is a 2-door version of the Subaru R2, but with a shorter body and wheelbase. The R1 is unusual in that it does not use up the maximum length allowed for by the kei car regulations. The toy company ‘Tomica‘ makes a diecast 1/64 R1, and the ‘Takara‘ company makes a Choro Q plastic pull-back model.
The R1 was only available in one specification level up to the end of 2005, using the 658cc Subaru EN engine. The engine was available in 3 versions, the ‘I‘ with the EN07U SOHC 34 kW ( 46 hp ) engine, the ‘R‘ with the EN07D DOHC engine rated at 40 kW ( 54 hp ) and the ‘STi‘ with an EN07X supercharged & intercooled engine rated at 47 kW ( 63 hp ). The R1 is being marketed as a personal car and as a middle-aged couple’s second car, a combination of leather & alcantara seating is available. All R1’s are equipped with a CVT ( continuously variable transmission ), and all trim levels are available with front-wheel drive as well as 4WD. In its promotional materials, the R1 is frequently compared to the Subaru 360, the very first production Subaru automobile.
The R1 is the base car for the R1e an experimental battery electric vehicle, currently undergoing limited production for selected industrial clients in Japan. There is intense interest in this vehicle within the US EV community as it employs Lithium Ion batteries which contribute to a significant improvement in range, and which can be 80% recharged in just 15 minutes.
‘The G4e Concept‘
The 2007 G4e Concept is a follow-up to the R1e with an improved battery, range, and bolder styling.
The Prodrive P2 ( Concept Car )
The R1 kei-car platform was also used by ‘Prodrive‘ the British based tuning specialists for their Prodrive P2 Concept sports car. It has a modified Subaru Impreza WRX STi engine developing 345 bhp with a 0-60 mph time of 3.8 seconds, and a top speed of 174 mph !! Not quite a kei-car !!
[ 2003 – 2010 ]
The Subaru R2 was announced in Japan on December 8th 2003, and the R2 name was inspired by the Subaru R-2, the kei-car model that was produced between 1969 & 1972. The R2’s exterior reflects the influence from Andreas Zapatinas, who worked at Alfa Romeo before moving to Subaru. The R2 is the first production Subaru to sport a new family look, including the aviation-inspired ‘spread wings grille‘ that is also used on the Tribeca and Impreza. The R2’s exterior dimensions are largely similar to its predecessor, the Subaru Pleo, but unlike the squarish Pleo, the R2 has a deliberately rounded, less space efficient form.
Three variations of the 4-cylinder 658cc engine are available, SOHC, DOHC AVCS ( variable valve timing ), and a DOHC with supercharger & intercooler ( R2 STi ). Unlike other Subaru models which use Boxer engines, the R2 uses an inline engine. The two lower engine options are available with either a manual transmission or a CVT. The supercharged engine is coupled to a sport shift version of the CVT ( 7-speed iCVT ). Both front-wheel drive and all-wheel drive are available.
‘Facelifted Subaru R2‘ ( Singapore )
Initially, the R2 was available in 11 colours and 3 trim levels ( one for each engine variation ). In 2006, the R2 got a facelift that is a similar design to Subaru’s Tribeca style front grille. The R2 was finally discontinued in March 2016.
The Subaru R2 is also a playable secret car in the Wangan Midnight Maximum Tune video game.
Subaru ‘Stella‘ 1G
[ 2006 ~]
The 1st Generation Subaru Stella was introduced in June 2006 and is based on the same architecture as the Subaru R2. The 4-door hatchback can be considered as a direct replacement of the Subaru Pleo although the Pleo is still currently in production. Subaru hoped to recapture market share after the Subaru R2’s less than expected sales performance. The name ‘Stella‘ is Italian for ‘star‘, being also in reference to the Subaru logo. Due to the investment of Toyota however, the future production status of the Stella is in question. The Subaru built Stella ceased production in 2011.
The Stella 2G
The 2nd Generation Stella is a rebadged Daihatsu Move, introduced in Japan on May 11th 2011.
Electric Version: In June 2008, Subaru unveiled an all electric concept vehicle combining the Stella platform with the electric drive from the Subaru R1e, which uses TEPCO lithium-ion batteries. It was intended to be sold in the European Union but has not materialised, only being sold on the home market to fleet & Government users.
[ 1992 – 1998 ]
The Subaru Vivio introduced in March 1992, was manufactured by Subaru until October 1998. It has a 658cc ( 52 PS ) multi-point fuel-injected 4-cylinder engine ( 44 PS DIN was claimed in Europe for the same engine ). There was also a carbureted version with 42 PS ( 31 kW ), which equipped the Vivio Van version. The Vivio is quite roomy considering its small size, thanks to a relatively tall profile and large windows. It is one of the lightest kei-cars, weighing in at between 650 kg ( 1,433 lb ) and 700 kg ( 1,543 lb ) depending on the trim line.
[ H I S T O R Y ]
The name ‘Vivio‘ is a reference to the engine’s displacement of 660cc written in Roman numerals ‘VI,VI,O‘ and also inspired by the word ‘VIVID‘. It replaced the Rex that was introduced in the 1970’s, and was itself superseded by the Subaru Pleo.
The 1994 T-top Vivio
The Vivio was available in 3 & 5 door versions commonly, with a 2-door targa top version called the ‘T-top‘ being available to special order from 1994. The T-top was built by Takada Kōgyō ( 髙田 工業 ), a convertible specialist who also assembled the Nissan Figaro.
The Subaru Vivio ( White Edition )
In November 1995 the ‘Vivio Bistro‘ was introduced. This was a modified variation with a retro theme, with Mini-like front and rear fascias, matching upholstery and modifications to the dashboard. The Bistro series was popular, causing Subaru to release multiple succeeding versions of the Bistro, called the ‘Bistro B-Custom‘, the ‘Bistro Chiffon‘, the ‘Bistro White Edition‘, the ‘L Bistro‘, the ‘Sports Bistro‘ with BBS wheels, the ‘Bistro SS‘ using the engine package from the Vivio RX-SS, and the ‘Club Bistro‘ with a British black cab appearance.
The Vivio was available with a variety of normally aspirated or supercharged 4-cylinder engines with different gearbox options including ECVT ( Electronically Controlled continuously Variable Transmission ) and multiple trim packages. Aside from the top of the line RX-R, all engines were SOHC 8-valve designs. The ECVT equipped supercharged model claimed 64 PS ( 47 kW ) with such a setup, and while the Twin Cam 16-valve RX-R version claimed to make no more power than the SOHC, this was only to stay within the limitations laid down by Japan’s kei car laws. Claimed torque was higher, at 88 N/m ( 65 lb/ft ) versus 84 N/m ( 62 lb/ft ). Front or 4WD versions were offered. The suspension setup used was inspired by the Subaru Legacy instead of using MacPherson struts to save on production costs.
[ M o t o r – S p o r t ]
The supercharged grade RX-R & RX-RA were widely used for rallying in Japan. The RX-RA was a motor sport trim grade with close ratio gears and harder suspensions than the RX-R. You can still see some entrants using Vivio’s at WRC Rally Japan events today.
In 1992 at the Paris-Beijing marathon raid, a private entrant ran the Vivio RX-R with the EN07X engine. Most people who saw the car imagined its early retirement but it was faster than the works team Mitsubishi Pajero at the prologue stage, and ran for more than a week until it broke its suspension. The car made it to the finishing line ‘unofficially‘ after repairs were carried out, with no further trouble.
The most famous appearance in an international motor sport event was in the 1993 round of the Safari Rally under the decision of former factory driver and Subaru Technica International founder and team owner Noriyuki Koseki to promote the car. He made the decision to enter 3 of the sports model Vivio Super KK driven by Masashi Ishida, local driver Patrick Njiru and up and coming WRC star Colin McRae on his Safari debut. ‘Super KK‘ is the FIA homologation name for the RX–R grade, in rally trim the 660cc engine produced 85 PS ( 63 kW ) @ 6,000 rpm.
Only one of the 3 cars finished where it settled for 12th place driven by Njiru. Colin McRae did manage to set the fastest stage time before managing another 2 stages up to Makinda before retiring with suspension failure. He later said ‘You can hide the whole car in every single pothole along the route !!‘. Ishida later retired with head gasket failure. This appearance was satirised by cartoonist Jim Bamber for the ‘Yumping Yarns‘ cartoon of Car & Car Conversions magazine, where he depicted Colin McRae driving his Subaru Vivio under an elephant !!.