Subaru Alcyone SVX
aka SVX
Production 1991-1997
Class Grand Tourer / Performance
Body Style 2 Door Coupe
Length 182.1 in.
Width 69.7 in.
Height 51.2 in.
Wheelbase 102.8 in.
Weight 3580 lb.
Transmission 4-Speed Automatic (4EAT)
Engine 3.3 litre (3300 cc) Quad Cam, 24 valve "Boxer" flat-six
Power / Torque 230 hp
224 lb/ft
Similar 3000GT-SL/300ZX 2+2/Supra/SC400

Giorgetto Giugiar

The Subaru Alcyone SVX was a grand touring luxury coupe available in the US between from late 1991 and 1997 when it was discontinued. It replaced the Subaru XT /XT6. It's most striking and distinctive feature was the window treatment; a window-in-a-window which on some models made the car almost appear to be a bubbletop. The power-operated lower windows rolled up to meet a one inch wide moulding frame which held the fixed upper window in place in the door. This created very favorable aerodynamics and a car that could be driven at high speed with the (lower) window opened without buffeting.

Styling was either a love-it or hate-it opinion.

This sporty four-seater (which could actually carry four people) was styled by Giorgetto Giugiaro of ItalDesign, The SVX was popular in ski areas due to its AWD and distinctive sporty style. For the U.S. market, two versions were produced, with the more luxurious LS-L and LSi versions having a sunroof, heated mirrors, leather seating (driver's 8-way power), and leather covered steering wheel, gear selector and handbrake. Some say that the designer only offered the car with an auto transmission because he was quoted as saying "why should the driver have to work?" But the underlying reason was that, at the time, Subaru did not have a manual transmission that was strong enough to handle the power and torque of the 230HP engines.

Poor Man's Carrera 4

Road and Track magazine called the SVX "The Poor Man's Carrera 4. Thanks to full-time all wheel drive and despite its heavy weight, it could corner extraordinarily well on wet road conditions. Its acceleration times were slow compared to today's sport coupes. The 0-60MPH time was 7.3 seconds, with a 15.4 second quarter mile time, which was quick back in early 1990s, but nothing to brag about in 2007. Hitting the redline in 3rd gear at 120MPH, its fourth gear could lead the car close to 150mph.

Winter Driving

This is the car to have when the road is covered with snow. All wheel drive and heavy weight (3614lb) coupled with the ability to accelerate from zero mph in 2nd gear made this car a breeze to drive on snow-covered road. In the rain, thanks to its drag co-efficient of only 0.29 raindrops just zoom by the glass around the cabin. The front and rear wipers do great jobs in clearing the rain from the windshield and the rear window. To many SVX owners, snowfall marks the beginning of a fun session on empty snow-covered roads and wide-open empty parking lots. Slam the brake hard on wet roads and the ABS will kick in,making high speed wet braking less scary.

Luxury Branding

In addition to Poor Man's Carrera 4, the SVX was also equally compared with the Lexus SC400 in terms of comfort in a sports coupe. Toyota was successful in penetrating the luxury sports coupe arena, as it changed the logo from Toyota to Lexus. In the late 1980s, Nissan, Toyota and Honda realized that they could not market a 35,000 dollar luxury sports coupe through their lower-priced brand names. This resulted in a major change in the automotive industry as Infiniti, Lexus and Acura began their lives. Around the same time, the luxury sports coupe market began to heat up as Acura sold its Acura Legend Coupe, Lexus its SC300 and SC400 and Infiniti the M30 Coupe (and convertible). Subaru did nothing on its brand name. Subaru sold the SVX simply as a Subaru.

It was difficult to define the SVX's class. It was not powerful enough to run with the VR4/300ZX Twin Turbo/Toyota Supra Twin Turbo pack. Its styling did not really say luxury while the SC400 and the Legend Coupe did. The SVX was just as fast as the 3000GT-SL, 300ZX (non-turbo) and the Supra (non-turbo) but none of these were all wheel drive. Another all wheel drive performance car back then was the Diamond Star cars, the Mitsubishi Eclipse, Eagle Talon, and Plymouth Laser, but these were not direct competition. The SVX was in a class of its own.


Some buyers were turned off because there were no manual transmission available for the EG33 Flat-Six engine. Sales did not reach the optimistic level of 10,000 cars a year as Subaru had hoped. The SVX was introduced in the late 1991 as the 1992 model. In late 1993, you could still order a brand new 1992 SVX in any color, at a very low price. The '92 SVX with Touring Package (LS-L) was the same as LSi model in the later model years from 1994-1997, was first retailed at $28,000. In late 1993, you could order the same '92 SVX delivered from storage space in Colorado to your dealer in Chicago for only $21,800 plus tax and other similar fees. "That" has to be termed "a great deal!" In 1997 the total SVX sales was only 640 cars. That was reason enough for Subaru to pull the plug on the SVX. From 1991 to 1997, 14,257 SVXs were sold in the US, about 2,500 in Europe, and 1000 in Canada. Of all 25,000 SVX produced, about 7,000 were assembled for right-hand drive countries.

Common Problems

Major problems of the early SVXs were overheating transmissions and wheel bearing failures and warped brake rotors. One way to notice wheel bearing failure early is to find a quiet road, turn off the radio and listen for a roaring noise as the SVX accelerates. The worn wheel bearing noise does not go up with the RPM, but the speed of the car.


During early 1990s, about the only modification for the SVX was the K&N Air Filter. Since then, enthusiastic owners have modified SVX engines on their own. Today, turbo kits, supercharger kits, NOS kits, 5 and 6-speed manual transmission conversions and a lot of exhaust, suspension and performance parts are now available, including some JDM import parts from Motorsport Warehouse in Tuscon, Arizona.


Car Enthusiasts

To many auto enthusiasts, the 230 horsepower-SVX was underpowered (the 300ZX-TT offered 300HP, so did Toyota Supra and Mitsubishi 3000GT-VR4), it could not be ordered with manual transmission, it was too heavy for extreme sports driving and it was not a "real" sports car as two adults could actually sit comfortably (for short trips) in the back seat. But to most SVX owners, it was the perfect car. Even 10 years after production ceased, this car still turns heads and grabs attention where ever it goes.

  • A celebration of the Tenth Anniversary of the SVX (1992-2002), was held in Lafayette, Indiana, home of Subaru of Indiana Automotive, in July, 2002. SVXs from all over the country came to commemorate this event. SIA hosted events and tours of the plant and brought in the original styling and engine designers and engineers from Japan who worked on the SVX development.
  • A similar event, celebrating the SVXs Fifteenth Anniversary, is scheduled to be held at the same location September 21-24, 2007.


The Subaru SVX hasn't been very popular in the sports car world, but it has had rivals. The SVX's rivals were the Honda PreludeMitsubishi GTO VR-4Nissan Skyline GT-R R32, Mazda MX-6, and the Toyota Celica.


  • Though it has never been confirmed, some fans state that this car was succeeded by the Subaru BRZ

See Also


Fuji Heavy Industries


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