30 Years of Subaru SVX

As a rock-solid Japanese car brand, Subaru is particularly known for sedans and station wagons with all-wheel drive. Older readers may also remember the Libero minibus, younger ones the rally successes with Colin McRae or Petter Solberg. However, the fact that there were also sports coupés at one time has tended to be forgotten. The XT started rolling into dealerships in 1984. 30 years ago, the more modern SVX followed. This model celebrated its world premiere in October 1989 as a concept car at the Tokyo Motor Show. Giorgetto Giugiaro was responsible for the significantly rounder design. As a special feature, he envisaged a division of the body into a lower and an upper section. While the lower section was painted in the desired car color, the roof section was usually given a contrasting paint finish.

Special design and high-quality equipment

Above all, a lot of glass was used. Even the A-pillars were glazed from the outside. The side windows extend far upwards and were formed by a heat process patented by Subaru. Only about two thirds of them could be opened in a separate inner area. At the rear, the spoiler extends once completely around the rear window and up to the opening rear side windows. A small rear wing was available at extra cost. The taillight strip didn’t extend quite so far. At the front, a transparent central element visually combined the headlights into a single unit. Inside, the coupé offered four seats with leather upholstery and extensive standard equipment. CD radio, air conditioning, electrically adjustable and heated seats and power windows were among the standard features, as was wood trim. This already shows that the SVX was well-powered, but not a thoroughbred sports car.

Powerful six-cylinder boxer engine

This suspicion is supported by the technical data. Under the hood was a six-cylinder boxer engine with a displacement of 3.3 liters. It was further developed from the previous top engine of the XT, but now with two overhead camshafts and four valves per cylinder. This resulted in 230 hp and 309 Nm of torque in the data sheet. Power was transmitted to the permanent all-wheel drive system via a four-speed automatic transmission. The topspeed was 249 kph (154 mph). Starting in 1994, a less well-equipped entry-level version with front-wheel drive was available on the US market. For the rest of the markets, the all-wheel-drive version received an electronic speed limit to a maximum of 230 kph (143 mph) to protect the transmission. In the 1996 model year, the officially stated power dropped slightly to 220 hp and 304 Nm.

Fewer sales than forecast

In Japan, the sports coupé was called the Subaru Alcyone SVX. Alcyone is the brightest start in the Pleiades constellation, which is also featured in the Subaru logo. SVX stands for ‘Subaru Vehicle X’. A total of 24,379 units rolled off the production line until 1997. Of these, 14,357 went to the US and 2,478 to Europe. Internally, Subaru had assumed 10,000 cars annually. About 7,000 SVXs were produced with RHD. In addition, there were 1,905 examples with all-wheel steering in Japan. In 1991 and 1992, Subaru showed the Amadeus concept car at several auto shows. This was a shooting brake based on the SVX. Although customer feedback was quite positive, the low sales figures of the SVX ensured that the Amadeus wasn’t given a chance for series production. Instead, the then current Legacy 1992 was visually adapted to the SVX with a facelift.

Images: Subaru