Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Turbo XV for Subaru?

I mentioned a "STI" Crosstrek in my last article, but after rewatching an episode of Subaru's Launch Control YouTube series, there might actually be a production-based Subaru XV out there.  In Episode 5 of this season, "Made in America", David Higgins and Craig Drew are using a blue XV for their Recce car to check out the stages and make notes for the rally in China.  As they drive away you can clearly see a scoop in the center of the hood of their XV.  The interior shows a CVT shift knob, but I've yet to see a factory hood scoop on this generation of XV / Impreza.  Typically a hood scoop on a Subaru signals the use of an intercooler which would be used on a turbocharged engine.  WRXs, some Foresters, and other turbocharged models Subaru has made over the years have this feature... so it got me searching for more!

I can't seem to find any other information on this just yet.  A quick look around the Subaru-China website for the XV (called the Crosstrek here in the US) doesn't seem to bring anything up showing any models equipped as such.  Subaru Rally Team China fielded a turbocharged Crosstrek prepared by Vermont SportsCar to compete in this series, but the Recce car shouldn't have also been prepared unless there's something different with rally regulations in China I am unaware of.  Even the rally car brought over by Vermont SportsCar didn't have a hood scoop, so it's just been kind of puzzling to me.

I'll keep digging for info on this.  In the meantime, if any of you have more information on this scooped XV, leave a comment!  I'd love to find out more and share it!

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Manual: Not Quite Dead Yet!

While it's certainly more part of a niche market, Manual Transmission options have been in trouble over the last several years.  With fuel economy improving on Automatic transmissions, the reasons to drive a manual have been dwindling over time, leaving die-hards and enthusiasts to carry the flag for the 5-Speed.

For 2017, the Subaru Impreza is entering it's 5th Generation design with groundbreaking new designs ushering in the new sedan and hatchback.  Thanks to vague press releases and media assumptions, many had come to the conclusion that the Impreza would only be offered with an automatic CVT and ditch the manual option.  I am happy to prove those media outlets wrong with the release of new information for the upcoming 2017 Imprezas, slated to release later this fall!

The 2017 Subaru Impreza 2.0i retains a 5-Speed Manual Transmission in the base sedan, base hatchback, sport sedan, and sport hatchback.  Not only that, but Sport models also have the option to add a Moonroof, Blind Spot Monitors, and a Harman Kardon  audio system.  The manual is alive and well with the Impreza!

Stay tuned next week when we take the all-new Impreza for a run before they hit dealership lots!

Friday, October 14, 2016

Hybrid: Dead or Alive?

In Fall of 2016, Subaru of America announced a few small changes for the 2017 Subaru Crosstrek. Among the news of Red and Black Special Edition models being released there was an exclusion. The Crosstrek Hybrid and Hybrid Touring models have been discontinued in the US.

Since it's original launch as a 2014 model, the XV Crosstrek Hybrid (later just the Crosstrek Hybrid) was a tough pitch.  While you could argue that the quieter smoother ride, nicer interior and exterior touches, and unique additions made it worth the price gap between itself and a normal Crosstrek, there was one Achilles Heel right from the start: Fuel Economy.  The driving force for a customer to purchase a Hybrid vehicle is to save on fuel.  On paper the Crosstrek Hybrid only delivered marginally better fuel economy figures compared to it's non-hybrid counterpart.  Before the customer could even start to appreciate the rest of the Hybrid's trimmings, it'd be easily dismissed from the unimpressive gas mileage figures.

For a full time All Wheel Drive system, the Fuel Economy in Subarus is already pretty impressive.  Mix in the fact that most Hybrid-minded consumers are looking for 40+ MPG in a car thanks to front-wheel drive offerings, and the Crosstrek Hybrid already had cards stacked against it.  Plus, the technology and extra trimmings that were once exclusive to the Hybrid models eventually made their way onto other non-Hybrid models, which further detracted from any sort of pull it would give customers to give the Hybrid a shot.  No matter how capable or how nice this tree-hugging Crosstrek was, the fuel economy figures just weren't enough to make it relevant.

With those dismal figures I imagined that this was it for the Crosstrek Hybrid, but it appears the Japanese have been drinking something different... to the point where the Hybrid is going in the opposite direction.

Behold!  The 2017 Subaru XV Hybrid tS!  This STI-packaged Crosstrek tots lots of extra bolt-on goodies as well as a "heart-thumping" orange interior.  While no performance upgrades find their way under the hood, this XV Hybrid has upgraded suspension and handling to go along with those flashy exterior aero parts.  In the US, it would have had a MSRP around $32,000 (3,326,400 Yen) making it the most expensive XV on the market.  Still, it's interesting to see the US market drop the Hybrid while it gets STI treatment overseas.

With Subaru's future plans looking towards Hybrid and Electric designs going into the next generation, the Hybrid's exit from the US market could only be temporary.  Still, it's odd to see such a split between success and demise with the same Hybrid system under the hood.  As the door closes on the current models, the Global Platform coming for the 2017 Impreza could give this technology new avenues to explore.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Custom Screen Image on your Subaru

If you haven't been following my blog, you should know that I'm a big fan of rally.  Racing to the limit on tarmac, dirt, and gravel roads is an awesome test of both car and driver and I enjoy following rally teams pursuit of perfection in these demanding conditions.  One of my favorites to follow is Subaru Rally Team USA and every time I watch in-car videos I see that logo on the dashboard.  So when I found out I could do the same thing in my 2016 WRX STI (or any Subaru with a 7.0 inch Touchscreen) I was pretty stoked.

SRTUSA_BlackAll you've gotta do is download this image to your computer and follow the instructions in this short video I made.  You can do this with any picture, but this one has been specifically sized and designed for use on Subarus with the 7.0 Inch Multimedia Plus or Multimedia Plus Navigation systems.

Check out the video below and follow along to add this to your Subaru!

Thursday, August 18, 2016

New Chapter for an Old Car

For the last 3 years I've been working on resurrecting a beat-up 2000 Impreza 2.5 RS Coupe.  It's had quite the transformation from rust bucket to rallycross champ.  I've really grown attached to the car in that short time, but I've come to slowly realize that I need a cleaner car.  By clean, I mean not 16 years of rust and rot and neglect and patchwork body repairs.  However, finding a suitable replacement here in the midwest has been nearly impossible.  These older Subarus have not survived the harsh winters and even harsher chemicals put on roads here in Nebraska.  Rusty quarter panels seems to be as sure of a thing as leaky head gaskets on these old Subies.

However, I've managed to find a suitable replacement to swap a few things over and continue to grow and improve with.  Hidden away in Washington State I managed to find a 1999 Impreza 2.5 RS Coupe... same color and everything, just no rust.  In fact, the car is in awesome shape and is more than ready to take up the mantle of my previous project car.  However, the story of this RS Coupe has a more interesting start than that.

I've been following Agatino Fortunato since the beginning of the 2016 Rally America Series back in January.  Tino and the All Fours Rally Team have a Super Production WRX STI that they compete with and I was lucky enough to meet them at the Rally in the 100 Acre Wood earlier this year.  Instead of trucking the Impreza here and fixing the head gaskets on the '99 Impreza, I got in touch with Tino.  By some strange force of nature, they're going to button it all back up and drive it on it's maiden voyage to Ojibwe Forests Rally next week!  Now all I've gotta do is quit geeking out, make some plans, and meet them there to drive my new rally car home!

I wish I could attend the whole rally, but I have to work that Saturday.  I'll be hitting the road, driving through the night to make it there, get some rest, check out some of the rally, get the car, and head home with it.  What an adventure I've got coming!  I'm pretty stoked to have this cool of a story linked to a car I'll be picking up.  What a way to start a new project!

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Subaru Generational Changes

I work in Subaru sales and a common question I am asked is "When is the bodystyle changing?"  Knowing what I know about the cycle most Subaru bodystyles take, this can be a pretty easy question to answer... but all of that might be up in the air with the new "Global Platform" that Subaru will be going to in 2017 starting with the new Impreza. 

Confused already?  Here's a quick rundown of what Subaru currently does with their lineup.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Colorado Bound!

This week my wife and I are taking a much-needed vacation.  Work has been busy for both of us and we haven't really had a breather since January, so when our friend from Colorado invited us to their wedding... we decided to turn it into an adventure!

We'll be taking our trusty 2015 Subaru Forester XT along for the journey.  As much fun as my STI would be on these scenic roads, the Forester is the smarter pick and still delivers a good amount of fun.  Between the better fuel economy, added space and comfort, and the massive sunroof to help us enjoy the scenery as we weave through mountain passes, we're excited to jump head-first into this adventure with our Subaru!

On our to-do list is the Rocky Mountain National Park.  I've visited the park twice, but both times were quick pass-through visits that really didn't do the park justice.  We're planning on spending most of our Thursday there, so it'll be nice to take it all in without being on the clock.  Friday we might have some more time to visit other parks before wedding commitments come into play, but we'll make the most of it regardless!

I'll have some photos and a road-trip report of our Forester XT when we return!