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Subaru unveils one platform to rule all models

POSTED BY Nigel Andretti ON 09 March 2016

SUBARU has unveiled an all-new platform that will not only underpin all models except the BRZ sportscar, but will also accommodate autonomous, electric and hybrid propulsion.

The company’s next-generation Impreza hatchback and sedan – due to be revealed in production guise at this month’s New York motor show – will be the first models to roll-out on the Subaru Global Platform, but it will eventually spread to each of the Japanese car-maker’s range of SUV, wagon and sedan offerings.

“Planning the main specifications of all vehicle types at one time and flexibly adjusting these basic specifications to match with the requirements of different models will strengthen the entire Subaru lineup, while still allowing the company to develop models that take advantage of each model’s strengths,” Subaru said in a statement.

The new concept allows one design concept to be adapted not only to gasoline engines but also to hybrid vehicles, plug-in hybrids, electric cars, and other types of alternative power units.

Development based on a single design concept makes it possible to produce platform components for multiple models in the same production facility, rather than manufacturing them in different factories as has been the case in the past.

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With a flexible architecture, the new chassis and structural arrangement will also provide the basis for new additions to the range including a seven-seat SUV replacement for the now discontinued Tribeca, should one to be confirmed.

Six initiatives were laid out by the company in 2014 as part of the Prominence 2020 management vision and the arrival of the new platform is the next part of that initiative, but looks even further than the original strategy to 2025, says Subaru.

According to the company, the Global Platform is the “biggest ever enhancement in overall vehicle performance” with improvements to straight-line stability, noise, vibration and harshness (NVH) and comfort levels.

Vehicle handling takes a significant step up with a 5mm lower centre of gravity for better dynamics and stability, added to by a significant 70 to 100 per cent improvement to structural stiffness and rigidity.

Straight line-stability is not just an advantage to more conventional vehicles for both safety and comfort, but Subaru says the improvement is particularly important for autonomous vehicles.

Little information is outlined regarding the company’s foray into self-driving vehicles but says the platform addresses “the need for enhanced straight-line stability in the autonomous vehicles of the future”.

Cabin noise levels have been cut by about 70 per cent by identifying and reducing resonance and vibrations in the areas of steering, floor and seating, while comfort gets another boost with a 50 per cent reduction in bodyroll.

Subaru’s acclaimed EyeSight stereoscopic camera safety system currently extends almost range-wide, but the car-maker says the new platform will allow even greater levels of both passive and active safety.

The more dynamic chassis enables crash avoidance comparable with a sportscar, according to Subaru, but if a collision can not be avoided, the vehicle’s stronger underpinnings have a 40 percent improved energy absorption.

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