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Subaru Viziv concept redefines tradition

Subaru is built on all-wheel drive, boxer engines and a Northwest popularity that could probably get a Forrester elected to public office.  Subie lovers should find it concerning the Japanese automaker has yet to dabble in the wave of hybrid and alternative fuel vehicles making their way to market.  Until now, that is.  The Viziv concept, revealed at the 2013 Geneva Auto show, is a definite sign the Japanese automaker is preparing to shake up their DNA. 

The name Viziv means “Vision for Innovation”.  I’ll take Subaru’s word on that; Google Translator defined Viziv as a “Subaru concept at the Geneva Auto Show”.  

At a glance the Viziv sticks to Subaru’s reserved, no-drama design language.  Their signature hexagonal front grille remains intact, as do bold, clean lines and surfaces.  Supercar-style scissor doors run the length of the cabin.  When opened majestically to the sky they reveal the crossover is a four-seater in disguise.  Every passenger seat is equipped with a personal infotainment display, not to mention an unusual amount of vertical legroom. 

The extra space is made possible by the Viziv’s plug-in hybrid drive system, which renders the driveshaft obsolete and thus allows the floor to be lowered. 

Power comes from a 2.0-liter boxer diesel engine, mated to a continuously variable transmission (CVT).  An electric motor at the front of the vehicle helps drive the front wheels and recharges the battery pack.  Two other electric motors at the rear drive the rear wheels.     

The electric motors are used predominantly at lower speeds to conserve fuel.  At highway speeds the diesel kicks in to take over cruising duties.  During sporty driving the two power-sources are utilized to maximize the low-end punch diesel engines and electric motors are best at producing. 

Subaru’s effort to move their legendary symmetrical AWD system into the future is showcased in the Viziv with a new ‘through the road’ hybrid AWD setup, which allows the front and rear powertrains to operate independently via computer control – hence the missing driveshaft.

Using a computer brain in place of the old mechanical setup to maximize grip, Subaru’s new AWD system could prove to be their most capable to date.  Not only should the computer be able to react faster to eliminate tire slippage, it will also have the benefit of dolling out power directly through the rear electric motors without having to deal with interference from the front powertrain.   

Whether or not the Viziv goes into production, the concept is proof Subaru has the necessary technology to keep the staples of their brand relevant in the coming years.  If all goes according to plan boxer engines and all-wheel drive are going to be a calling card of subies for quite some time.       

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