Subaru SVX

Subaru's rival to the venerable Toyota Supra was something of a sales failure. This means you can now have one for a pittance
By Sony Thomas, Deputy Editor
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February 02, 2017
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Subaru created a stir at the New York show recently with its BRZ STi concept. The prospect of a turbocharged rear-wheel drive coupé from the master of all-wheel drive hatchbacks and saloons has got enthusiasts drooling in anticipation. But as many of you know, Subaru first dabbled with coupés as early as the Eighties, starting with the wedge-shaped XT, which got the automotive world to sit up and take note of the Japanese manufacturer that until then had made lacklustre vehicles.

When the time came to replace the XT, Subaru approached none other than the legendary Giorgetto Giugiaro, who penned a more subtle, graceful design compared to the predecessor's eccentric looks. But the SVX had its own share of idiosyncrasies, not least the 'aircraft-inspired glass-to-glass canopy' that wrapped its way around the car, with even the pillars being covered in glass.

Being a Subaru, the SVX also had a flat-six engine under its bonnet, but at 3.3 litres and output figures of nearly 230bhp and 309Nm, it was a substantial upgrade over the XT's 1.8-litre flat-four, which produced only 136bhp. Since Subaru did not have a manual transmission that could handle the boxer's torque, a four-speed auto 'box was employed, which many saw as one of the car's weak points.

But despite the all-wheel drive system adding more heft, the SVX could do the 0-100kph sprint in just 7.3 seconds and hit a top speed of over 240kph. However, the soft suspension, combined with the nearly 1.7 tonnes of weight and the mediocre gearbox, meant the dynamics were more suited for a GT than a sportscar.

While it had the potential to be a credible alternative to cars like the Toyota Supra, Nissan 300ZX, Mitsubishi 3000GT and the Mazda RX-7, its unrealistically high price tag of nearly $30,000 (about Dh110,000) deterred potential buyers. It was a sales flop and Subaru stopped production in 1997, with only about 24,000 built.

Despite its relative rarity, you can snap one up for as little as Dh20,000. But keep an eye out for irritants including issues with the cooling system and electrical system failures.

Interestingly, this car elicits more attention today than it did when it was in production. Thanks to its outlandish design, and the fact that this was the last such Subaru before the onslaught of the Imprezas, it is an attractive proposition as a modern classic.