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Why The Subaru SVX Was A Complete Flop

by George Mensah

If you want a more performance-oriented Subaru in 2022, your options are the Subaru BRZ and Subaru WRX GT. You’re out of luck if you want a refined ride without looking like an anime character on his way to the World Rally Championship. However, this was not always the case. Subaru offered a sleek grand tourer that sat miles above every other Subaru offered at the time, not only in style, but also in price, for a brief period in the 1990s.

The Subaru SVX was the vehicle in question. It was manufactured from 1992 to 1997 and remains Subaru’s only true luxury-focused vehicle to this day. That would seem to be a winning combination. Subaru is an undeniably popular brand with a devoted fan base. Subaru demonstrated its ability to build a high-performance vehicle with the WRX STI. With a few daring styling cues, you’ve got yourself a blockbuster GT car. Unfortunately, the SVX was a total flop.

Unlike any other Subaru

A vehicle’s market demise can be attributed to a variety of factors, including poor design, poor business decisions, or mechanical ineptitude. Because it was a well-regarded vehicle, the Subaru SVX defies that trend in the world of automotive failure. It looked nothing like other Subarus, and it was designed to be a luxury vehicle, whereas other models, such as the Legacy and Impreza, were designed for capability and adventure.

The SVX shares more styling cues with a European sportscar than most Subarus. It was created by legendary Italian designer Giorgetto Giugiaro, who is best known for his work on several Maserati and Ferrari models, as well as the original Volkswagen Golf and the DMC DeLorean. Subaru claims that its unusual windows were designed in such a way that they made no noise when the windows were down. Mechanically, it wasn’t completely out of place in Subaru’s lineup. It was powered by a 3.3L flat-six “boxer” engine that produced a respectable 230 horsepower, and all but a few early models were all-wheel drive.

A Subie that broke the bank

The SVX was far from perfect. For starters, it was costly. It was significantly more expensive than any other Subaru at the time, with an MSRP of nearly $36,000. Adjusted for inflation, that’s nearly $68,000, making it more expensive than any new Subaru in 2022. Another flaw in the SVX was its automatic transmission. It was the only available transmission because Subaru didn’t have a manual transmission capable of keeping up with the SVX without liquifying.

Subaru’s sales were doomed by a high price tag and a somewhat sluggish transmission. During its brief existence, the brand sold approximately 14,000 SVXs. Despite their scarcity, surviving SVXs aren’t auction house darlings. Well-preserved models can still be found at auction for reasonable prices on occasion. If you couldn’t afford the SVX in the 1990s, nearly 30 years of depreciation may be beneficial.

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