From Fuel Efficiency to Performance Power: The History of Subaru’s Turbocharged Engine

Subaru’s reputation for producing reliable, efficient, and rugged vehicles has been well-earned over the years. While the Japanese automaker’s focus on fuel efficiency was clear, they have been experimenting with engine technology for decades, and one of their most important developments was the revolutionary turbocharged engine. In this article, we delve into the details behind Subaru’s turbocharged engine, starting from its early years and taking a closer look at its impact on the company and the auto industry as a whole.

Early Years & the Emergence of Turbocharged Engine

Subaru started its journey in automobile manufacturing back in 1954, producing small vehicles with gasoline engines designed for Japanese streets. For the next few decades, Subaru primarily prioritized fuel efficiency over performance, which is evident in their car models of that era. However, in the late 1960s, Subaru began experimenting with different engine technologies, and turbocharging was becoming a popular strategy to improve fuel consumption while boosting performance.

In 1978, Subaru released their first commercially available turbocharged engine in the Subaru Rex Combi. The new technology proved to be a turning point for Subaru since it allowed them to produce fuel-efficient vehicles that could also pack a punch. The early success of the Rex Combi helped Subaru to establish itself as a company that could produce more than just tiny cars with weak engines.

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The Debut of Subaru Models with Turbocharged Engines

Following the success of the Rex Combi, Subaru continued to incorporate turbochargers into their cars. The 1980s saw the release of several turbocharged Subaru models, including the Subaru Leone and the sporty Subaru XT Coupe. The XT Coupe, in particular, garnered attention because of its futuristic design and powerful engine, making it a hit among car enthusiasts worldwide.

Subaru’s turbocharged engines continued to evolve during the 1990s, making them more powerful and reliable than ever before. The Impreza was one of the most successful Subaru models to incorporate a turbocharged engine during this time. The Impreza WRX, with its 2.0-liter turbocharged engine, became a cult classic, beloved by car enthusiasts around the globe.

The Impact of Subaru’s Turbocharged Engine on the Auto Industry

Subaru’s turbocharged engine technology had a profound impact on the auto industry as a whole. The success of models like the Impreza helped Subaru to establish itself as a legitimate competitor to other Japanese automakers. The turbocharged engine also became increasingly popular in the 1980s and 90s, with other car manufacturers including the technology as well.

Even today, turbocharged engines remain popular among car enthusiasts who want a performance boost without sacrificing fuel efficiency. Subaru continues to innovate and refine its turbocharged engine technology, paving the way for more powerful and efficient engines in the future.

Frequently Asked Questions

When did Subaru release its first turbocharged engine?

Subaru’s first commercially available turbocharged engine was released in 1978 with the Subaru Rex Combi.

Which Subaru models have turbocharged engines?

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Subaru has several models with turbocharged engines, including the Impreza, WRX, and STI.

What is a turbocharged engine, and how does it work?

A turbocharged engine uses a turbocharger, which is a device that forces compressed air into the engine’s combustion chamber, which results in more power than a traditional engine. The turbocharger uses a turbine that is powered by the engine’s exhaust gases to compress the air, which is then fed into the engine.


Subaru’s turbocharged engine technology revolutionized the auto industry by allowing the company to produce vehicles with both fuel efficiency and improved performance. The turbocharged engine’s impact continues to be felt today, with other automakers including the technology in their cars. Thanks to Subaru’s dedication to innovation and performance, the turbocharged engine has become a staple of their brand, and it will undoubtedly remain an essential part of their vehicles for years to come.

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Billy Covington

With a passion for all things automotive, Billy is our go-to expert on Subaru performance upgrades and modifications. He's been featured in several car magazines and blogs, and his extensive knowledge and expertise make him a valuable member of our team. When he's not working on cars, he enjoys playing guitar and writing music.

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