The Subaru SVX first made its debut at the 28th Tokyo Auto Show in 1989, as a concept car.
Italian Automobile designer Giorgetto Giugiaro of ItalDesign designed the slippery, sleek bodywork, incorporating design themes from many of his design concepts, such as the Ford Maya and the Oldsmobile Inca. Subaru decided to put the concept vehicle into production and retain its most distinguishing design element, the unconventional window-within-a-window. Subaru called this an "aircraft-inspired glass-to-glass canopy," which was borrowed from the previous model Subaru XT with an additional extension of glass covering the "A" pillar. The decision to release this car for production would give the public the first opportunity to drive a "concept car" as originally conceived.
Subaru introduced the SVX in the United States in July 1991 (as a 1992 model), following up the U.S. debut with a Japanese market introduction in September of that same year. The model was designed and marketed as the replacement for their aging, envelope pushing Alcyone XT and Alcyone XT6 coupes. Outside Japan, the Alcyone designation was dropped, and the car was marketed as the Subaru SVX.
The Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) for the base model 1992 SVX-LS was $24,445, with the top of the line model with touring package, the LS-L, listing at $28,000. This was $8,000-$11,000 higher that any previous Subaru. By the end of its production run in 1996, the price had risen to $36,740 for the top-of-the-line LSi (called the Version L in Japan). In Japan, the top of the range models were the L and the S4.
Because of its high price, and the fact that it had made its U.S debut during an economic recession, sales in the United States were sluggish; 5,280 cars were sold in 1992 and 3,859 cars in 1993; it was reported that Subaru intended to sell 10,000 SVXs each year. Demand for the SVX dropped significantly before falling to just 640 units in 1997, at which point Subaru discontinued production.
Total sales of the SVX numbered 14,257 in the United States and a total of about 25,000 worldwide. 2,478 SVXs were sold in Europe (with 854 headed directly to Germany). Roughly 7,000 of all SVXs sold were right-hand drive models. Included in this number were the 249 vehicles sold in Australia, at a cost between approx. Au$73,000 to Au$83,000.
As an investment, Subaru actually lost $3,000 on every Subaru SVX sold, for a total loss of around $75,000,000 on this project. However, they considered this a small price to pay for the increased awareness of Subaru's presence as a quality, forward-thinking auto manufacturer.
The SVX continues to be prized as a used car with unusual styling. Most examples can been seen in good condition, though one 1994 SVX in Seattle was put up for sale after being damaged in a televised police chase. The car was called a "future collectible" in Collectible Automobile magazine with strong resale values.
In stark contrast to the boxy, angular XT, the SVX had curvy lines designed by Giugiaro and an unusual, aircraft-inspired "glass-to-glass canopy" with 2-piece power side windows. The windows are split about 2/3 of the way from the bottom, with the division being parallel to the upper curve of the door frame. These half-windows are generally seen on exotic vehicles with "scissor", "gull-wing", or "butterfly" doors, such as the Lamborghini Countach, De Lorean DMC-12, and the McLaren F1. The SVXs aerodynamic shape allowed it to maintain the low drag coefficient of .29 cd, previously established by the XT coupe it replaced. > SUBARU SVX BODY
Unlike the previous model, which had been available with either a turbocharged 4-cylinder (as XT) or a naturally-aspirated 6-cylinder (as XT6), the SVX debuted with and remained available with only one engine, the EG33 model 3.3 liter "BOXER" horizontally opposed Flat-6 or H-6.
For 10 years after SVX production had ceased, this engine held the record as the largest engine ever produced by Subaru for its passenger cars, until the introduction of the EZ36 3.6L Boxer engine in the 2008 Subaru Tribeca.
Internally, the engine is essentially a six-cylinder variant of the EJ22 found in the first-generation Legacy and Impreza. The new 3.3 liter variant was equipped with dual overhead camshafts and 4 valves per cylinder, and had an increased compression ratio of 10.1:1, bringing horsepower up to 230 bhp (172 kW; 233 PS) at 5,400 rpm with 228 lb·ft (309 N·m) of torque at 4400 rpm. Fuel delivery was accomplished with sequential Multi-port fuel injection with dual spray injectors. Engine ignition used platinum spark plugs and a computerized management system with "Limp Home feature", which included over-rev protection, monitors fuel injection and ignition.
The exhaust system consisted of head pipes from each bank of cylinders with their own pre-catalytic converters, which entered a dual-inlet / single outlet main catalytic converter. A single 2.5" exhaust pipe exited the main converter and went into a resonator, and onto the main, transverse, single inlet muffler with twin exhaust tips in the bumper.
All versions of the SVX sold were equipped with automatic transmissions. Depending on the country, Subaru had two versions of their All-Wheel-Drive system for the automatic transmission, called ACT-4 or VTD. The first system, called ACT-4 (Active Torque Split) by Subaru, was the same setup commonly found on other Subaru models of the period, and used a variable clutch pack center differential using a 90% / 10% power split front to rear, which could transfer up to a 50% / 50% power split for maximum traction if the front wheels started to slip, allowing better fuel economy. This AWD system was offered throughout the entire production run, and was used in vehicles manufactured for sale in the USA, Canada, Germany, France and Switzerland. A sportier continuous traction delivery system, called VTD (Variable Torque Distribution) by Subaru, was used in vehicles for sale in Japan, England, the Benelux region of Northern Europe, Australia, Spain, Austria and Brazil. The VTD AWD system is a permanent AWD due to its 36% / 64% split. The Japanese-spec SVX was equipped with four-wheel steering (4WS).
Subaru began to realize that the high selling price of the SVX was giving some buyers "sticker shock". In an attempt to attract more buyers, a Front Wheel Drive FWD version was offered on the SVX during the 1994-1995 model year, which cost about $1500.00 less than the AWD version. In 1994, FWD was offered on both the L model (X33 in the VIN) and on the LS model (X34 in the VIN). In 1995, only the L model was offered in FWD (X33 in the 5th, 6th and 7th digits of the VIN). Buyers avoided the compromised FWD version and weak sales figures led to its discontinuation after 1995. > SUBARU SVX 4WD
Much of the early development, technical, engineering and performance data was taken from a special 100 page publication "Road and Track's Guide to the New Subaru SVX". Acceleration from 0-60 mph was 7.3 seconds, with a standing 1/4 mile time of 15.4 seconds at 92.5 mph (148.9 km/h). The top speed of the 1992/1993 SVX was about 143 mph (230 km/h). The SVX was relatively heavy, weighing in at 3,580 pounds (1,620 kg), which is roughly the same as a third generation Outback wagon. It was only available with the 4EAT 4-speed automatic transmission, which adversely affected performance. A manual transmission, capable of handling the horsepower and torque of the EG33 engine, was not available at the time of production and was never made available as an option. > SUBARU SVX ENGINE
In 1991, a Subaru SVX, driven by Ken Knight and Bob Dart, won the Alcan Winter Rally, a race starting in Seattle to the Arctic Circle and back.
In the early 1990s there was a Subaru SVX PPG Pace Car. It featured a silver to purple fade paint job, silver wheels in the front, purple wheels in the rear, "SVX" windshield banner, roll cage and an amber roof light. It was evaluated by Wally Dallenbach Sr, Indy Car Chief Steward and PPG Pace Car evaluator. It was used as a promotional tool for Subaru, as well as a pace car. While most pace cars were retired after one season, the SVX proved to be such a worthy example and a favorite, it was used for several seasons. It now is in storage in the famous "Subaru Performance Attic" in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, near Subaru of America's headquarters. This is where many of the unique Subaru concept cars and Subarus of historical significance are stored. > SLIDESHOW