Subaru is celebrating 50 years since the introduction of its horizontally-opposed ‘boxer’ engine.
The boxer, so called due to the engine’s pistons resemble the punch-counterpunch motion of a boxer’s fists, is today used in all Subaru’s globally-sold cars, and also widely used by Porsche.
The layout of the engine places the pistons opposite each other in a side-to-side symmetrical layout. The opposing pistons work to cancel out the inertia force of each other, resulting in less vibration and a much better rotational balance to provide smooth acceleration right up to the highest engine speeds.
By its nature the boxer is also compact, which allows it to be fitted lower in the engine bay than a conventional four-in-line engine, lowering the centre of gravity and improving handling.
The first Subaru to use the boxer was the 1000 small car launched on 14th May 1966. To date, more than 16 million such engines have been sold in Subarus, and today it is combined with the brand’s Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive (AWD) system.
The future for the boxer looks assured in Subaru’s car line-up, while the handling and weight-friendly format of the engine have also found favour in motorsport, Subaru winning multiple World rallying titles in boxer-equipped Imprezas. Currently in the UK, leading race team BMR is developing boxer-powered examples of Subaru’s Levorg in the British Touring Car Championship (BTCC).