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Subaru is the automobile manufacturing division of Japanese transportation
conglomerate Fuji Heavy Industries (FHI), the twenty-second biggest automaker by
production worldwide in 2012.1
Subaru is known for its use of the boxer engine layout in most of its vehicles above 1500 cc as well as its use of the all wheel drive drive-train layout since 1972, with it becoming standard equipment for mid-size and smaller cars in most international markets as of 1996, and now standard in most North American market Subaru vehicles. The lone exception is the RWD BRZ introduced in 2012. Subaru also offers turbocharged versions of their passenger cars, such as the Impreza WRX.
Fuji Heavy Industries, the parent company of Subaru, is currently in a partial partnership with Toyota Motor Corporation, which owns 16.5% of FHI.
Subaru Rally Team Japan led by Noriyuki Koseki (founder of Subaru Tecnica International, STI) ran Subaru Leone coup¨¦, sedan DL, RX (SRX) and RX Turbo in the World Rally Championship between 1980 and 1989. Drivers for individual rallies included Ari Vatanen, Per Eklund, Shekhar Mehta, Mike Kirkland, Possum Bourne and Harald Demut. Mike Kirkland finished 6th overall and won the A Group at the 1986 Safari Rally. That year Subaru was one of the only manufacturers combining 4WD and turbo after Audi's successful quattro system had been introduced in 1980, but Audi withdrew from the WRC after safety concerns and Ford's serious accident early in the 1986 season. Subaru changed the rally model to Legacy RS for the 1990¨C1992 period and took part in the first complete season in the World Rally Championship with the same model in 1993.
Modified versions of the Impreza WRX and WRX STi have been competing successfully in rallying; drivers Colin McRae (1995), Richard Burns (2001) and Petter Solberg (2003) have won World Rally Championship drivers' titles with the Subaru World Rally Team, and Subaru took the manufacturers' title three years in a row from 1995 to 1997. Subaru's World Rally Championship cars are prepared and run by Prodrive, the highly successful British motorsport team. Several endurance records were set in the early and mid-nineties by the Subaru Legacy.
Subaru was briefly involved in Formula One circuit racing when it bought a controlling interest in the tiny Italian Coloni team for the 1990 season. The Coloni 3B's 12-cylinder engine was badged as a Subaru and shared the boxer layout with the company's own engines, but was an existing design built by Italian firm Motori Moderni. The cars were overweight and underpowered and the partnership broke down before the season finished.16 With the rise of rally racing, and the Import scene in the US, the introduction of the highly anticipated Subaru Impreza WRX in 2001 was successful in bringing high-performance, AWD compact cars into the sports car mainstream. Subaru supplies a factory-backed team, Subaru Rally Team USA for Rally America, and has won the driver's title six times, most recently in 2011 with David Higgins.17
On 4 May 2012, Subaru Rally Team USA announced that a new rallycross team, Subaru Puma Rallycross Team USA, will participate in the 2012 Global RallyCross Championship season with Dave Mirra, Bucky Lasek, and Sverre Isachsen.18
On 16 December 2008, it was announced that Subaru would no longer be competing in the World Rally Championships.19 The decision was taken by Subaru¡¯s parent company, Fuji Heavy Industries (FHI), partly as a result of the economic downturn but also because it was felt Subaru had achieved its sporting and marketing objectives. Mr Ikuo Mori denied that alterations to the WRC technical regulations in 2010 or a rumoured deterioration in the working relationship with Prodrive had any impact on the decision. He also said that the possibility of a Subaru car back in the top category of WRC in the future is not zero, but for this moment there can be no assumption of a comeback.20
Starting in 2006, Subaru of America (SOA), as the official distributor of Subaru vehicles in the United States, participates in the Subaru Road Racing Team (SRRT) with a Subaru Legacy 2.5 GT Spec-B in the Grand-Am Street Tuner class. In 2010, SRRT campaigns a Subaru Impreza WRX STI in the Grand Sport class.21 In 2011, SRRT switched from the hatchback to a 2011 Subaru Impreza WRX STI sedan. Download