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The Subaru SVX Is the 1990s Japanese Sports Car Everyone Has Forgotten

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author photo by Doug DeMuro January 2017

Here's something you might not have realized: The well-known, oft-discussed 1990s Japanese sports-car craze included the Toyota Supra, the Nissan 300ZX, the Mitsubishi 3000GT, the Mazda RX-7 and... a Subaru. That's right: a Subaru. It was called the SVX, and it was a bit different from its contemporaries. But it was a 1990s Japanese sports car nonetheless.

Here's the situation. The highest-performance versions of the 300ZX, the 3000GT and the Supra were all the most powerful vehicles made by Nissan, Mitsubishi and Toyota, respectively. And indeed, the SVX was the most powerful Subaru. Likewise, the 300ZX, the 3000GT and the Supra all used 6-cylinder engines. And indeed, so did the SVX. It fits!

Sort of.

A little more information: The Subaru SVX went on sale for the 1992 model year, intended as the halo car of the Subaru range that also included the relatively dull Impreza, Justy and Legacy. It had all-wheel drive, a 3.3-liter flat 6-cylinder and truly head-turning styling, thanks to a bizarre wraparound window situation that made the roof seem like it was floating above the rest of the car. So it was pretty cool.

But that didn't exactly make it a rival to the Supra Turbo. The main reason was power: While most of the high-performance Japanese cars of the mid-1990s had 300-plus horsepower, the SVX was stuck with just 230 hp. More importantly, the SVX didn't offer a manual version; instead, it stuck drivers with a slow-reacting 4-speed automatic.

The result is that, in today's world, the SVX isn't revered on quite the same level as its Japanese sports-car contemporaries. In fact, it usually isn't even mentioned in a discussion of those cars. But it should be -- because just as the famous contingent of mid-1990s Japanese sports cars sat at the top of each automaker's range, so too did the SVX. It just did things a little more conservatively and a little more practically. In other words: a little more "Subaru."

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This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
The Subaru SVX Is the 1990s Japanese Sports Car Everyone Has Forgotten - Autotrader