Subaru's Best Boxers: The Cruiserweight SVX Grand Tourer

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This is about as excessive as Subarus would ever get.

The 1990s was an unusual era when it came to the flagship models. Honda, for instance, was offering its NSX supercar alongside a range of hatchbacks and sedans, while Cadillac had somehow managed to pull off selling a popular luxury SUV based on a GMC truck platform. Perhaps the most unusual of them all, though, came from Subaru: here was a company that decided the ideal vehicle to showcase alongside its humble and affordable Justy hatchback was a radically-styled coupe that retailed in 1991 from roughly $25,000.

Known in its native Japan as the Alcyone SVX (with the acronym being used on its own in every other territory the car was sold in), this relatively huge four-seater was a noticeable departure for Subaru - which is a pretty big feat in itself, considering the Alcyone XT it replaced wasn't exactly a shrinking violet to begin with. Having the largest and most powerful engine Subaru had made to that point helped, as did the major surprise that it was a legit grand tourer. Even the transmission it featured was rather unusual, especially from our post-paddleshift perspective: if you wanted to change gears manually, you could do so via buttons mounted on the side of the four-speed auto's gear selector lever.

What really set the Subaru SVX apart from nigh-on every other car on sale at the time, though, was the way it looked.

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Being practically identical to the concept car that previewed it in 1989, the SVX was peppered with several distinctive design elements, such as the wrap-around headlights, blistered rear fenders and the split side window arrangement which had previously only been truly associated with supercars such as the Lamborghini Countach. Perhaps the most eye-opening element of all, however, was the glasshouse. Not only was it truly vast and expansive, but the unusual kinks in the bodywork make the SVX one of the only cars in the world with a side window base that's below the car's waistline.

We'll never truly know if the styling put buyers off or not, as the Subaru's launch right as a global recession was starting to unfurl put the incredibly expensive SVX at a disadvantage straight from the off. Subaru was only able to sell 25,000 or so examples in the USA, with a similarly disappointing pattern emerging in practically every other territory the SVX was sold in. Their loss, though, is our gain - as it sold so poorly, hardly anyone knows of the SVX, making demand low and prices fairly affordable. For sure, it's highly unlikely that values for this stylish Subaru will suddenly rocket up anytime soon, but it's reassuring to know that one of the coolest cars of the 1990s can be had at bargain prices nowadays.


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