Subaru is a relatively young car manufacturer, building its first car, the front-wheel-drive 360, in 1958. Despite this, Subaru has become one of the most instantly recognisable automobile brands, the name synonymous with motorsport. Utilising its experience from rallying, its road cars and WRC derivatives are intrinsically linked.
The diminutive 360, with a 356cc air-cooled two-cylinder engine, became one of the most important cars in Japanese motoring history and remained in production until 1970.
The iconic horizontally-opposed 'boxer' engine debuted in the Subaru 1000 of 1966. The first four-wheel drive, the Leone station wagon, was launched in September 1972, making Subaru the first manufacturer to offer four-wheel drive in a passenger vehicle. The Legacy made its debut at the start of the WRC programme in 1989, and the Impreza was launched in 1993. Both cars are still in road-going production after numerous model upgrades over the years, and are Subaru's most successful models.
Subaru Tecnica International (STI)
STI is the high-performance arm of Fuji Heavy Industries Ltd (FHI) and is exclusively responsible for high-performance cars and Subaru's motorsport activity. Founded in April 1988, the aim was to promote Subaru's production cars and the brand in general through motorsport, creating the association seen between the two today.
From 1990 when Subaru scaled-up its WRC assault to mount a serious campaign, STI was at the forefront of the design, development and assembly of the rally engines. Three consecutive Manufacturers' Championship titles followed from 1995, firmly establishing STI and Subaru as a driving force in international rallying.
Following the launch of the Impreza, STI began a parallel development programme for World Rally cars and Subaru's road models, using their rally experience to directly influence the first ever road-going Impreza STi in 1994. The moniker soon became much revered within automotive circles, enabling Subaru's customers to benefit directly from their rally prowess.
Aside from the WRC, STI also provide technical support for Subaru teams in Japanese motorsport series such as Super GT and for the Subaru entries in the Production Car World Rally Championship (P-WRC).
Fuji Heavy Industries (FHI)
FHI was established in 1953. A descendant of the 1917 Nakajima Aircraft Company, it was formed when six Japanese companies joined to become one of Japan's largest transport equipment manufacturers.
FHI and associated companies employ more than 26,000 people worldwide and sell products in more than 100 countries. Subaru represents the automobile arm of FHI, one of four main divisions within the organisation, and operates in 87 countries.
The other divisions consist of aerospace engineering which caters for commercial and defence customers; industrial products; and transportation equipment which builds buses, commercial vehicles and even prefabricated housing.
There is a great deal of technology sharing between the four divisions, which has made FHI an innovation leader. Subaru’s current 'boxer' engine layout is a prime example, its technology and usage having originated from FHI's aerospace division.