Keeping it flat: Subaru builds 15 millionth boxer engine

Published: 20 February 2015

► Subaru builds 15 millionth boxer engine
► Record passed after 49 years
► Stays committed to boxer motors

Subaru has passed an unusual milestone: after 49 years of ignoring the mainstream, it has built its 15 millionth boxer engine.

The Japanese firm has famously stuck with the boxer engine design, for its petrol and diesel cars, where the cylinders are horizontally opposed in layout, not vertically stacked in a line.

It makes for a more compact, extremely low engine size - and means the company is able to keep the bonnet lower than in a conventionally inline cylinder motor. Just check out the stance of the low-slung Subaru BRZ coupe.

Subaru boxer engines: a quick history

The first Subaru model to feature a boxer engine was the 1000 model introduced in 1966.

Engineers pursued the horizontally opposed layout in its four-cylinder engine for packaging and refinement reasons; a boxer engine is technically very balanced and, incidentally, gives an unusual aural signature.

The boxer woofle will be familiar to generations of Subaru Impreza fans, not to mention owners of Porsche 911s.

Whereas Porsche has gone off-piste with V6s and V8s (and is now developing four-cylinder boxer units for its smallest sports cars), Subaru has stuck with the layout for virtually all of its production cars ever since.

A Subaru 4wd record too

The Japanese company is also celebrating its 14 millionth four-wheel drive system. It first invented its Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive set-up to a Leone Estate Van in 1972 (pictured in our gallery above).

Are you a fan of Subaru’s independent engineering spirit? Let us know in the comments below.

By Tim Pollard

Editorial director of CAR's digital publishing arm. Motoring news magnet