28 January 2020

More than an old car #131: Subaru SVX

Years of car-spotting has shown me that despite the restrictive rules regarding car ownership here, there are plenty of rare gems hidden all over the island. Thus, when I was aware that this 1991 Subaru Alcyone SVX was on display over the weekend, I had to make my way down and check out this unicorn myself!

The SVX was a all-wheel drive coupe and was Subaru's first entry into the luxury/performance market. Its name is derived from Alcyone, the brightest star in the Pleiades constellation (as stylised in the Subaru logo), and the acronym for 'Subaru Vehicle X'. It was unveiled to the public at the Tokyo Auto Show in 1989. Designed by Giorgetto Giugario, it notably featured a 'window-within-a-window' configuration, supposedly inspired by the glass-to-glass canopy of a fighter jet. Taking cues from its predecessor, the XT, it featured softer lines and its windows was split 2/3 from the bottom, similar to the Lamborghini Diablo and Delorean DMC.

At that time, the all-wheel drive system was revolutionary, especially when Japanese sports cruisers were few and far between. It provided firm grip on loose/slippery surfaces, and made for a fun drive when paired with its low drag coefficient of 0.29. Unfortunately, the AWD system was also its Achilles' heel: it caused the car to become heavier than its competitors and the cooling system was sometimes unable to cope with the additional effort. All SVXs were equipped with a 3318 cc EG33 flat-6 engine, allowing it to reach a top speed of 235 km/h with an acceleration of 8.6 seconds [0-100 km/h]. It was 4625 mm long and weighed 1610 kg, with a fuel consumption of 10.3 litres/100 km.

Production of the SVX ended in 1997, amidst the collapse of Japan's bubble economy and overall poor sales. A total of 24,379 units were sold, of which around 7,000 were in RHD. They are comparatively rare today and one would be hard-pressed to find one even in the main target of the US market. This unit is the only one in Singapore where it belongs to Motor Image, our local Subaru dealer. SVXs were never sold here officially to my knowledge, and I was fortunate to be able to see this when it was on display some time back.

It was quite surprising to see that we have such an oddity here, especially when it does not get displayed often. On one hand, it would be nice if there were registered units here but at least this is better than nothing. I do not know when it will make an appearance again, but I really hope you get to see it soon and appreciate its quirkiness!

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