Subaru Celebrates 40th Anniversary of Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive

Subaru Leone 40th Anniversary of Symetrical All Wheel Drive
Subaru celebrates the 40th anniversary of its signature Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive (SAWD) system this year and will mark the occasion with a showcase at next month’s Geneva International Motor Show (March 8-18).

SAWD was introduced in 1972 on the Leone wagon in Japan. In the ensuing years, Fuji Heavy Industries (FHI), the maker of Subaru vehicles, has hugely refined the technology.

Total production* of Subaru SAWD vehicles has reached 11,782,812 (as of January 31, 2012) – approximately 55.7% of Subaru vehicle total sales.

The SAWD system provides optimum traction by distributing engine power to all four wheels in a balanced manner.

SAWD combines with Subaru’s flat horizontally opposed Boxer engine to produce a perfectly symmetrical power train and low centre of gravity – the lack of major components sitting either side of the powertrain results in great balance, stability, response – and the driving fun for which Subarus are famed.

Continuous research and development over 40 years has refined the SAWD technology, making the system ideal for a wide variety of conditions, from rough roads to rain and snow.

The latest technology includes four-wheel traction management, giving firm and accurate grip to all four wheels, all the time.


Variable Torque Distribution (VTD)-AWD: Electronically controlled sporty AWD for enhanced turning performance

A compact AWD system that combines the centre differential with an electronically controlled hydraulic multiple-disc clutch Limited Slip Differential (LSD), using the planetary gear. The 45:55 front:rear torque distribution is continuously variable, using a multiple disc clutch LSD. Torque distribution is controlled automatically up to an equal 50:50 front:rear ratio to suit road surface conditions, for superb stability. By distributing torque with an emphasis on the rear wheels, turning performance is enhanced, providing aggressive and sporty driving.

Active torque split AWD: Electronically controlled AWD for enhanced fuel efficiency and stability

Subaru’s original electronically controlled Multi Plate Transfer (MPT) adjusts torque distribution to the front and rear wheels in real-time, to suit driving conditions. The system usually distributes torque 60:40 front:rear. It maximizes the benefits of AWD by providing stability and safety, regardless of the driver’s skill in any driving situation.

Viscous centre differential AWD: Mechanical AWD for manual transmissions

The system is a combination of the bevel-gear-type centre differential and the viscous LSD. A 50:50 front:rear torque distribution is set under normal conditions. It delivers stable and sporty driving that always maximizes available traction.

Multi-mode Driver Control Centre Differential AWD: Performance-directed AWD

The electronically controlled DCCD AWD system employs a combination of torque sensing mechanical LSD and electronically controlled LSD. It provides a performance-oriented 41:59 front:rear torque distribution for optimum vehicle dynamics control. The mechanical LSD has a quicker response and activates just before the electronic LSD. While managing large torque, the system demonstrates the highest balance between agility and stability. There is the choice of automatic LSD control modes and manual mode, which the driver can select according to conditions.

*Including the productions of part-time 4WD vehicles

About Rob Fraser 1996 Articles
Rob Fraser – General dogsbody & Director Rob is the founder of the business. He constantly mutters something about way too many red wines one evening being to blame. Often known for taking the 4WD in the driveway over the sports car, he has travelled pretty much everywhere in Australia and when he is bored goes for a drive. He first learned to drive on the farm in a left hand drive WW11 Jeep when he was 11, and was hooked on 4WDriving way back then. In addition to 4WD he is an avid motoring enthusiast and has maintained a strong interest in the industry ever since his teens. He has owned way too many cars in his time as well. Having previously lived at the top of corporate life he retired in 2000 and hasn’t put a suit and tie on since. Cars are his passion so why not have a business doing what you love he figures. He has towed either a caravan or camper trailer to most parts of Australia, has run guided tours for camper trailers’ and instructed drivers in off road towing.