Subaru Leone and 4X4
Reviewed by Unique Cars and Parts
Our Rating: 1
In September 1972
, eleven months after the release of the Leone sedan
, Fuji Heavy Industries unveiled the 4WD Leone station wagon (however it did not appear in the United States until 1974
as a 1975
model). Up until this time four-wheel drives were typically limited to the utalitarian Land Rover
. Subaru broke this pattern by introducing a mass-produced four-wheel drive passenger car - and some claim this was the first affordable SUV.
The Leone 4 x 4 Wagon was originally equipped with a 1.4 litre and later a 1.6 litre, flat-4, carbureted, OHV boxer engine. A print ad for the 1973
Subaru GL coupe referred to the engine as "quadrozontal" - we assume Fujui Heavy Industries paid large to some marketing firm at the time to come up with the word quadrozontal - which basically meant 'Boxer'.
The flat-four engine of the Subaru provided drive to the front wheels only, until four-wheel-drive was required. The extra drive was simply engaged by a lever, at any speed up to 80 km/h, engagement being indicated by a warning light. The light was a necessary reminder as the four-wheel option was intended for use only on soft ground; the Subaru did not have the luxury of a central differential which would compensate for the slight variation in speed between front and rear wheels when all four were driven.
With just its front wheels driven, the Subaru 4 x 4 provided what adequate performance, and while its all-wheel drive option did not endow Land Rover capabilities, it was a useful addition which gave good cross-country performance. The Leone Wagons were available with a 4-speed manual transmission, 5-speed manual transmission or a 3-speed automatic transmission beginning in 1975.
Some early models had duo-servo drum brakes
at the front however, later models were equipped with disc brakes. In 1976
the EA63 engine was replaced with the EA71 engine. The EA71 engine was originally installed in cars equipped with automatic transmission but eventually supplanted the EA63 across the entire range of vehicles in the USA and Australia.
In April 1977
an updated Leone range was released. All body panels were altered slightly and the overall look was 'smoother' and more contemporary in appearance. A completely new dashboard with altered interior were also part of the update. Despite these changes the overall effect was similar to the earlier version and mechanically identical, with the exception of the rear track which was widened by 40mm.
The facelifted model line was assembled from CKD kits in New Zealand by importer Motor Holdings' Waitara plant near New Plymouth. Late in 1977
Fuji Heavy Industries introduced the Subaru Brumby
/ Brat as a 1978
model. Arguably the best remembered and sought after, the Brumby
was a two-seater ute based on the Leone platform. The original Brumby was updated in 1981
with a dual-range 4WD transmission and 1.8 litre EA81 engine. This was sold alongside the second generation Leone introduced in 1979
1977 Subaru Leone 4 x 4 Quick Specifications
Front mounted, water-cooled horizontally-opposed four cylinder. 92 mm (3.62 in) bore x 60 mm (2.36 in) stroke 1595cc (97.3cu in). Maximum power (DIN) 68bhp at 5200 rpm; maximum torque (DIN) 82.5 lb. ft. at 2400 rpm; light- alloy cylinder block and head. Compression ratio 8.5:1.3 main bearings. 2 valves
per cylinder operated via rockers and pushrods by single side-mounted camshaft. 1 x Hitachi-Zenith-Stromberg DCJ306 downdraught twin-barrel carburettor.
Single dry-plate clutch and four-speed manual gearbox with drive to front and rear wheels via transfer box. Ratios 1st 3.666, 2nd 2.157, 3rd 1.464, 4th 1.029, rev 4.1 00. Hypoid bevel final drive, ratios, front 3.889, rear 3.900.
Front - independent by MacPherson struts; Rear - independent with semi-trailing arms and torsion bars.
Rack and pinion. Turns from lock to lock 3.8.
Discs front and drums rear. Dual circuit.
J x 13 in.
155SR x 13 radials.
5 doors, 4 seats. Integral.
Dimensions and weight:
Wheelbase 96.5 in; track-front 49.8 in; rear 47.8 in; length 158.5 in; width 61 in; height 56.7 in; ground clearance 7.9 in; dry weight 21501b; turning circle between walls 40ft; fuel tank capacity 9.9 gal.
Maximum speed 87 mph; acceleration 0-60mph 16.7' secs; fuel consumption approximately 29 mpg.