Special Coverage

Greater L.A. Auto Show

LOS ANGELES – Fuji Heavy Industries Ltd.’s Subaru brand confirms it will offer a hybrid-electric vehicle globally, including the U.S., in 2012.

The production HEV likely will share mechanical characteristics with the sleek all-wheel-drive Subaru Hybrid Tourer concept car unveiled at the show here.

The concept is powered by a 2.0L gasoline horizontally opposed direct-injection 4-cyl. turbocharged gasoline engine with a Lineartronic continuously variable transmission, mated to two electric motors, one in front and one aft.

“We developed our own system to work with a boxer engine,” Subaru of America Inc. spokesman Dominick Infante tells Ward’s.

“This car has a rear motor designed to assist when emission levels are bad, like upon start up, and assist in forward acceleration. The front-mounted electric motor is also for heavy acceleration.”

Infante says the Subaru-designed hybrid system is geared more toward performance than fuel economy, although the production HEV will boast superior fuel efficiency. He declines to reveal numbers, as the car still is under development.

Additionally the production version is unlikely to borrow many of the design cues of the concept.

The concept features a luxurious cabin and sculpted aerodynamic body, with body-length gullwing doors. It also has a flat rear floor to maximize passenger space; specialized windscreen shielding to reduce driver eyestrain; and a new leather seat covering developed with superior breathability, with a ventilation function used in the seats for improved comfort and texture.

A Subaru spokesman tells Ward’s the production HEV likely will be based on one of the auto maker’s existing models.

Subaru also debuts two special-edition models here – the ’10 Impreza WRX STI Limited and the ’10 WRX STI SE.

The WRX STI Special Edition, which hits showrooms in February, features a sporty, stiff suspension borrowed from the Japanese domestic-market WRX STI spec C model.

The car is powered by a 2.5L 305-hp turbocharged 4-cyl. boxer engine producing 290 lb.-ft. (271 Nm) of torque and mated to a 6-speed manual transmission.

The first 125 units will be painted in exclusive Aspen White with charcoal-colored 18-in. alloy wheels. The WRX STI Special Edition will become a regular production model later in 2010, available in standard colors.

The Impreza WRX Limited adds a leather interior, standard moonroof and Sirius Satellite Radio, in addition to the feature content of the Impreza WRX Premium model. The car is powered by a 265-hp 2.5L turbocharged boxer engine paired with a 5-speed manual gearbox.

bpope@wardsauto.com