When you think of a modern Japanese sports car, you probably have a few principles running through your mind, like a four-cylinder turbocharger, manual transmission, unique styling cues, and maybe even all-wheel drive. If you’re a Subaru, that perfectly describes its ’80s XT coupe.
Jason Cammissa takes us through Subaru’s bizarre past in a video by Hagerty and explains how weird the XT was, but also at the same time insightful.
The car was designed to rival the likes of Honda with its front end and Toyota Celica. But she kind of didn’t. With a strange design and an above average price, it was hard to sell.
While many cars are made with aerodynamics in mind, they are usually economy models rather than a stylish sports coupe. The design was the responsibility of Kiyoshi Akari, who lived with an aerodynamic engineer when he was studying car design.
So, the XT has all kinds of tricks to make the air move around as smoothly as possible, like flowing door handles, retractable wipers, headlight caps, and pop-up headlights. The rear window is also optimally designed to reduce aerodynamic drag.
Read more: The modern day 2023 Subaru Alcyone/XT envisioned as a BRZ-based coupe
In general, the sports coupe managed to get a drag coefficient of only 0.31 for the all-wheel drive model, and 0.29 for the front-wheel drive model. For reference, the lowest drag coefficient of the Bugatti Veyron is 0.36.
Powering the XT is a 1.8-liter flat-four engine that initially produces 71 horsepower, but with the different iterations and extra turbocharging, that would eventually make 111 horsepower in its final form. A few years later, a six-cylinder engine was added to the lineup to create the XT-6.
Whether Subaru knew it or not, that’s what the future looked like. The coupe features additional technology that’ll be right at home on a car made in 2022, including ridges, a digital dash, and height-adjustable suspension on the 4WD model.
Unfortunately, not even the unique all-wheel drive system could tempt buyers away from the competition, and Subaru discontinued the model, only to return to sports cars later with the WRX.
Finally, Jason takes the car for a spin on some twisty mountain roads. The steering trembles whenever any angle of lock is achieved, and the motor hums like a vacuum cleaner. However, despite all that plus its sales failure, the XT was – even by chance – able to foresee, to some extent, the future of the automobile.