Twenty years ago Fuji Heavy Industries engineers first leveraged the subcompact Subaru Impreza platform to create the popular Forester CUV. They again used Impreza to create the 2012 Crosstrek which soon became the brand’s third-best-selling model in the U.S., and number two in sales among B-segment CUVs. Now comes a much-improved, second-generation 2018 Crosstrek which company engineers claim is 95% new.
It’s underpinned by the substantially stiffer all-new Subaru Global Platform (SGP) which brings improved ride, handling and NVH attenuation, as Automotive Engineering found during the recent media launch. Crashworthiness is also improved, the company claims. Crosstrek is the second Subaru underpinned by the new SGP, following the 2017 Impreza. Eventually all new models—from the 2019 Ascent three-row CUV to new WRX, Forester, Legacy and Outback models—will be on it.
The 2018 Crosstrek rides on a 104.9-in. (2664-mm) wheelbase, an increase of 1.2-in. (30.4 mm) over the previous model. Overall length and width are increased 0.6-in. (15.2-mm) and 0.9- in. (23 mm), respectively. The 60/40 split flat-folding seat seats and widened liftgate opening provide improved cargo loading and greater utility. Ground clearance is 8.7 in. (221 mm); wheels are 17-in.
Besides the vehicle’s new exterior and interior, the vehicle is equipped with an upgraded (80% new), direct-injected 2.0L horizontally-opposed ‘boxer’ four-cylinder gasoline engine, Active Torque Vectoring driveline, traction-enhancing X-Mode for off-road use (standard with the continuously-variable transmission (CVT), a new multimedia system with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay capability and many new driver-assist technologies.
Our recent test drive through the scenic Black Hills of South Dakota, during the U.S. media launch, included many unpaved roads and some challenging off-road situations. After the drive we sat down with Project Senior Manager Shinichi Numata and car line manager Todd Hill. According to Numata, Impreza and Crosstrek share the same wheelbase and are of similar size, “but future models will come to this platform with different sizes, different wheelbases, widths and lengths,” he explained.
“The basic idea is that many parts — nuts, bolts, fasteners, brackets, etc. — are shared, so engineering resources can be shared for lower development needs and costs along with more differentiation between trim levels and models,” Hill added. With 12% more high-strength and 9% more hot-press steel than the previous platform, the SGP is claimed to be 70% stiffer torsionally and 90% (front lateral) to 100% (rear subframe) stiffer than the outgoing architecture. The platform is designed to accommodate multiple powertrains, including EVs and hybrids.
Numata confirmed that as learnings accumulate from one new vehicle to the next, the development process becomes somewhat easier, faster and more cost efficient. “This Subaru Global Platform is basically a process of how a platform should be built,” he says. “The major parts are not physically the same [from one model to another], but the concept on how they are designed is shared with all of our car lines, and how they go together is the same. The car lines’ sizes will be different, but their platforms are designed with the same idea. The development used for this Crosstrek can be used for larger vehicles as well.”