The cars we loved.
What do you get when you cross a Ford Probe, Dust Buster and a Transformer? You get a Subaru XT. Called the Vortex and Alcyone in other markets, the XT was introduced in America a few months before it’s home market in Japan. When it arrived on Earth in 1985, it was to the far left of what the market was offering. It’s sharp angles were as much a function of it’s engineering as design. All Subaru’s of the time had horizontally opposed cylinder layouts. In this car it was used to enhance aerodynamics by making a rakish hood line. Even the door handles and mud flaps were designed to enhance the drag coefficient. For awhile, the XT’s cd of 0.29 was the lowest of any production car until Diamond Star twins came along in 1989.
The Transformer theme did not stop on the outside, the inside was pure science fiction also. The dash was inspired by Colonial Vipers, with it’s orange back-lit LCD and 3D effect gauges. Under the hood was nothing special beyond being a flat four (also rare then and now).
The XT was offered with two engines in it’s lifetime: a 1.8 L 97 hp flat four and later on the XT6 a 2.7 L 145hp flat six. The smaller engine eventually offered 115hp, but no power gains were made with the turbo. Also in keeping with the car’s theme of advanced technology, it was offered with push button on demand all-wheel drive. It also featured advances like the “Hill Holder” clutch that would hold the car in gear on a hill.
The XT/XT6 sold in small numbers and never really caught on with the public or the press for that matter. It’s design was initially praised, but most buyers found it too weird. Subaru was known for it’s rugged small sedans and wagons, not sporty coupes. Subaru continued on with the sporty coupe concept with the equally odd looking SVX in 1991. Since then, Subaru seems to have dropped the coupe concept altogether, choosing instead to make sporty sedans like the Imprezza WRX.