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New Turbocharged Subaru Engine Offered In JDM Legacy Could Also Power WRX and WRX STI

Benjamin Hunting
by Benjamin Hunting
May 15, 2012

Subaru has unveiled a brand new turbocharged engine, but while it draws its roots from the recently launched Subaru BRZ coupe it won't necessarily find a home between the front fenders of the compact two door sports car.  The 2.0-liter, four-cylinder motor that debuted as the sole power plant option for the Subaru FRS this spring has been given a turbo boost for use in Japanese market editions of the mid-size Subaru Legacy.

The BRZ's engine is notable for its willingness to rev high on its quest to deliver 200 horsepower, prodding drivers to spin it up to the redline in order to maximize both output and fun.  In the Japanese edition of the Legacy, Car and Driver is reporting that the turbocharged version of that same engine leaps to an impressive 296 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque - more than enough grunt to adequately motivate the heavier mid-size sedan and wagon.

The question becomes whether the turbocharged, 2.0-liter four-cylinder will make it's way across the ocean in order to find a home in U.S.-bound Subaru models.  While an STI high performance edition of the BRZ has been all but confirmed for American customers, the brand has stated that a turbocharged mill simply isn't a possibility for the sports coupe due to packaging concerns that leave little room for a spinning snail under the vehicle's hood.

This doesn't mean all hope is lost for fans of Subaru's turbo acumen.  The next logical candidate to receive a high output, turbocharged four-cylinder engine in the automaker's lineup is the Subaru WRX, a vehicle which is due for a redesign in the very near future.  Slated to receive its own unique platform that will sever its ties with the current Impreza (long the traditional starting point for the rally-inspired sedan and hatchback), a nearly 300 horsepower WRX would represent an appreciable upgrade over the current model's 265 ponies.  In fact, this would place it in WRX STI territory, which would require Subaru to kick its performance flagship up a notch or two in order to differentiate it from the base model.  350 horses would make for not only an acceptable gap between the WRX and the WRX STI, but such a lofty spec would also allow the latter to compete harder against other, pricier sport sedan options.

Will American Subaru Legacy models also benefit from the JDM turbo drivetrain?  The answer boils down to fuel economy.  In Japan, Subaru has outfitted the boosted 2.0-liter Legacy to its recently revised continuously-variable automatic transmission, which in North America manages to squeeze exceptional efficiency from the naturally-aspirated and recently-redesigned Impreza.  If the numbers are there, Subaru may be on the verge of moving to an all-four-cylinder mid-size sedan model lineup, eliminating their boxer six-cylinder option and joining several other manufacturers who have already embraced four-cylinder motors as the way of the future in the family car segment.


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