Subaru celebrates 40 years of all-wheel drive image

This year, Subaru celebrated 40 years since the launch of its first all-wheel drive model, the Leone, in 1972.

Since then, Subaru fitted its All-Wheel Drive system to passenger vehicles, world rally cars and kei cars, Japan’s special microcar category. The technology was first offered as a part-time option on the estate derivative of the Subaru Leone, but was subsequently rolled-out across the Japanese brand’s entire range.

Today, permanent Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive is standard fit across all Subaru models offered in Europe, with the exception of the rear-wheel drive BRZ sports car and the front-wheel drive Trezia. Interestingly, both these models are common projects with Toyota. Throughout the last 40 years, All-Wheel Drive has featured on dozens of Subaru models.

As well as the stars of the Subaru range, such as the Legacy, Outback and Forester, All-Wheel Drive has also been fitted to everything from World Rally Championship-winning cars to the brand’s diminutive kei car models prominent on Japanese roads. The 1983 Subaru Rex (badged the Subaru Mini Jumbo, 600 and 700 in Europe) was the first kei car ever to be offered with drive to all four wheels.

Subaru fitted AWD technology even on its concept cars, like the futuristic B9 Scrambler concept, a two-seater electric hybrid roadster shown at the 2003 Tokyo Motor Show. “Looking back over the last 40 years, it’s clear that Subaru’s commitment to All-Wheel Drive has produced some of the most capable, best handling and safest all-terrain cars,” said Haydn Davies, Marketing Director at Subaru UK.