Summer 2003 Forward to a Friend

  Kyoji Takenaka,
President and CEO,
Fuji Heavy Industries

Kyoji Takenaka during his presentation
at the Geneva Auto Show.

the greatest excitement of any journey is in its beginning – all preparations are complete, the time has been set aside, the destination chosen. There is perfection in that moment, a combination of well-made plans and high expectations.

In the automotive industry, this promise of the future is largely what makes “concept cars” so fascinating. An artful summary of what a company is, what it can do and what it wants to become is called a vision statement. In the design vocabulary of Subaru, this statement is a revolutionary new vehicle: the Subaru B11S.

The B11S demonstrates the future design direction and strengthened design capabilities of Fuji Heavy Industries (FHI) as part of companywide reforms to improve the Subaru brand. Under the guidance of Subaru President and Chief Operations Officer Kyoji Takenaka, these efforts are spearheaded by longtime Subaru designer Kiyoshi Sugimoto, who was promoted to Vice President, Senior General Manager of Subaru Product and Portfolio Planning Division and General Manager of Subaru Design Development. This is the first time a car designer has ever been appointed executive officer at FHI – lending even greater momentum and impact to the bold, new design initiatives.

Subaru describes the B11S concept as Gran Utility Turismo, blending sportiness, comfort and style. The European flavor also is found in the fact that Subaru retained the renowned Barcelona design studio Fuore Design International, led by Erwin Himmel, as a design consultancy to meld world-class design with the technological strengths of Subaru. Hence, the name – B for Boxer, 11 for Premium Class, S for Sportive – and the marriage of attractive design, outstanding technology and impressive performance.

Appropriately, the B11S was unveiled at the 2003 Geneva International Motor Show, the world’s premier exhibition of design-driven automotive concepts.

The sleek, pearl-white exterior, with its sophisticated, fluid curves and sporty attitude, belies a roomy interior that comfortably accommodates four adults. The front is highlighted by a dramatic, three-port grille with an aerodynamic theme that flows throughout the streamlined body. Two pairs of side doors swing open like gates, latching in the middle without a conventional B pillar.

Easy access to the back seats through the rear-hinged doors makes the interior seem even more spacious. This practical, functional approach extends to the folding back seats, which provide passage to and from the trunk for luggage or sports equipment. A frosted glass roof, inspired by traditional Japanese umbrellas, reinforces the open-air feeling while providing soft, diffuse lighting that adds an air of elegance. The carefully appointed interior, in Subaru blue with aluminum trim, also echoes the traditions of Japanese interior decoration in its close attention to detail.

More than mere looks, the B11S is a high-performance package that upholds the Subaru reputation for combining power with driver control. A new, horizontally opposed six-cylinder engine is still under development, but its twin-turbocharger and high torque will provide smooth low- and mid-speed operation as well as maximum top-end output. The symmetrical All-Wheel Drive system, with five-speed automatic transmission and Variable Torque Distribution (VTD), reiterates the Subaru “Active Driving/Active Safety” philosophy.

For now, the B11S is an exciting presentation of an advanced automotive concept. But it may also be viewed as the preview of a new design vocabulary. In the continuing journey to the future, the B11S is a guiding star on the Subaru horizon.