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The evolution of the Subaru Leone (1971 to 1994)

Wednesday, 1 Aug 2012

1.The evolution of the horizontally opposed engine.

Over the 22 year lifespan of the Leone there were two full model changes to the new, and the all new Leone. While sharing a common engine block, the displacement of the 4-cylinder EA series horizontally opposed engine displacement was gradually increased from 1100 cc, to 1200 cc, 1300 cc, 1400 cc, 1600 cc, through to 1800 cc.

In order to comply with the 1970’s American Clean Air Act
and Japanese exhaust emission regulations, the Subaru Exhaust Emission Control - Thermal and Thermodynamic Control (SEEC-T) system which uses a secondary air intake and thermal reactor was introduced. Thus, Subaru launched the most regulation-compliant model before any other Japanese automotive manufacturer. In 1982, the world’s first 4WD AT model with the high-performance EGI turbo-charged engine was developed. From then on, Subaru has been continually striving to refine their turbo charger technology as an essential component of their vehicle lineup. During the second full model change in 1984, the 1800 cc engine was modified to have an OHC design.

2.The establishment of Subaru AWD technology.

During the development of the Leone, significant progress was made to Subaru 4WD technology which continues to be a major part of their lineup today. They started with a part-time 4WD mechanism by adding a transfer gear, propeller shaft, and rear differential to the simple longitudinally mounted horizontally opposed engine FF layout. Soon after, this design was changed to a dual range hydraulic MPT (Multi-Plate Transfer) 4WD with a viscous LSD center differential, enabling full-time 4WD.

3.The creation of a new body category.

In addition to the initial coupe and sedan models, a new station wagon (touring) model was released for general use. Originally in Japan, two-box style 5-door vehicles were mainly used for freight and commercial vehicles and automobile manufacturers designed their vehicles for this purpose. Based on the Leone which had excellent ride comfort due to its four-wheel independent suspension and a superior 4WD mechanism, in 1981 Subaru developed and launched the touring wagon recreational vehicle to provide comfort and prestige for general users. This touring wagon with a unique 2-step roof design concept was carried over to the Legacy which triggered the subsequent surge in popularity of wagons in Japan. Both on-road and off-road performance was improved due to the adoption of electro-pneumatic suspension in 1987 where the vehicle height could be accurately controlled electronically with height control or air pressure.