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Japanese manufacturer Subaru has celebrated the 50th anniversary of its horizontally-opposed ‘boxer’ engine this week.

A signature feature of its vehicles, the company’s boxer engine design first debuted in the Subaru 1000 on May 16, 1966. Half a century on, every car Subaru sells outside Japan today is fitted with a boxer engine.

The boxer name comes from the engine’s horizontally-opposed design, where the pistons face each other in a side-to-side symmetrical layout. The movement of the engine’s pistons resemble the movement of a boxing fighter’s fists.

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Subaru says that the opposing pistons work to cancel out each other’s inertia force, resulting in less vibration and increased rotational balance.

Currently in Australia, Subaru offers a range of vehicles equipped with naturally-aspirated petrol, turbo petrol and turbo diesel engines in horizontally-opposed four- and six-cylinder configurations. Almost all of its vehicles combine the boxer engine with its signature symmetrical all-wheel drive system.

Its range includes several long-running popular nameplates such as the Impreza, Liberty, Forester and Outback.

MY15 Subaru WRX Symmetrical AWD Drivetrain.
Above: Subaru’s symmetrical all-wheel drive system

The only exception is the BRZ sports car, which features a 2.0-litre boxer engine and rear-wheel drive, which it shares with its twin-under-the-skin, the Toyota 86.

Another manufacturer that utilises the boxer engine is Porsche, which has fitted horizontally-opposed engines to its 911, Boxster and Cayman sports cars for decades.

MORE: Subaru news, reviews, pricing and specs




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