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Subaru SVX

GRAN TURISMO CAR REVIEWS

svx_s4.jpg

Years Represented: 1991-1995
Class: Grand Tourer
Type: ?

Country of Origin: Japan ``````````````````````````````````` Host: GT1 & GT2

Price: $18,216 (used Lsi, GT2)

Length: 182" // Width: 69.7" // Height: 51.2"
Wheelbase: 102"
Overhang: 6 feet 7.92 inches
Track: 59" [F] 58" [R]
Ground Clearance: 5.3"
Weight: 3571 lbs.
Tires: 225/50-16
F & R. Suspension: struts, coils, shocks, & anti-roll bars
Brakes: vented discs
Layout: Front Engine / All-Wheel Drive

Engine: 3.3 liter DOHC Flat 6
Aspiration: natural
 
Tested HP: ````235 @ 6,000 rpms
Tstd Torque:
228 @ 4,800 rpms
 
Lbs. per HP: 14.9
HP per LIter: 71.2
Credits per HP: $77.51
 
Valves per Cyl: 4
Compression Ratio: 10.0:1
Bore x Stroke: 3.81 x 2.95"
Redline: 6,500 // RPM Limit: 7,000

Transmission: 4-speed automatic


0-60 mph: 8.0 seconds
0-100mph: 20.2 seconds
 
400 M: 16.054 @ 89 mph
1 KM: 28.713 @ 119 mph
 
Test Track: 1:47.086

Top Speed at Redline
1st: 46 mph @ 6,600 rpm
2nd: 83 mph
3rd: 129 mph
4th: 166.46 mph @ 5,900 rpms
 
 


EXTERIOR----------------------------------------

Here we have one of the freaks.

If it were an animal, the SVX would be a platypus; for here we have an anatomical mistake of a car and we're not sure what its purpose is. The SVX (also known as the Alcyone) is definitely a strange one... not exactly a practical buy if one wants to haul more than two adults or any good amount of items (more than luggage or groceries, that is). Nor is it truly a race car, coupe, or sports car. Is it a hatchback? This seems to be the most likely answer, but then where is the roomy trunk? Subaru seems as though they were trying for a futuristic look for this one, which at the time was their flagship model. But really, what is this car for? Who gets tempted to buy one in real-life???

Well enough with my persistent nonsense! The SVX version L can be bought new or used in GT1, but the typical driver might not be able to afford to buy one till he's bought, raced, and won a series (like the Sunday Cup), or a slew of spot races in a cheaper car....for the SVX is somewhat on the pricier side. The dealer sells these oddballs with some interesting color schemes, which should be enough to please any SVX fan.

In GT2, the only place to find an SVX (and you'll eventually need to buy one to finish the Alcyone Events) is from Japan's used car lot. This is because by the time GT2 was released in 1999, the SVX/Alcyone had already become passÚ -- dropped by Subaru due to poor sales. There are two SVXs in GT2: the S4 and the LSi. I'm not sure what the difference is between them, you'll have to Google this info if you're curious...but from a gamer's perspective, the S4 is slightly better as a race car, as I'll outline in the next paragraph.

These are rather heavy autos, weighing-in at over 3,500 pounds, but they are also generally very stable, like tanks. Of the two versions, the S4 is a few pounds lighter; hence it is slightly superior for getting the lowest lap times. But no matter which version gets raced, weight creates some problems with acceleration and general flexibility. In GT1, an SVX with Stage 3 reduction weighs in at 2,784 pounds, and the racing body weighs just 2,357. The LSi in GT2 will only lower to 3,048 lbs, and the S4 model falls to 2,993.

In any event, there's nothing else like the SVX. It's surely an interesting one to watch.
 

svx_racekit.jpg
SVX race kit (GT2)

ENGINE / DRIVETRAIN---------------------------

When we buy this car, notice that the engine leaves much to be desired. It's over 3 liters in displacement, which should be sufficient for a 6-cylinder, but the car's overall weight (and its gearbox) make acceleration sluggish. Cars such as the NSX and FTO both have engines of similar size, yet are able to use their limited displacement well without help from a turbo. The starting pound-to-power ratio of 15.13 is rather high, yet it's still not the cause of the problem. Zero to 60 in 8 seconds is okay, but we can improve.

When attempting to fix this (in GT1), the first place to attack is gearing, not the engine. No matter how high the engine is revved at the start of a race, the tach needle will drop from redline all the way down to 2,000 rpms or so, mostly because 1st gear is very tall. This is especially true in GT1, but not so much in the 2nd game.

So what we want to do (in GT1) is buy the racing gearbox. Correct. We are now spending extra money (lots of extra money) on this contraption just to get a more efficient 1st gear! It will be worth it, though: the SVX will lurch forth with a lot more vigor once you've got this taken care of. Again, in GT2 this isn't so much of a problem. Buy a semi-racing gearbox and you'll rarely need anything else.

░ Okay. In my track tests, this car does have a 166 mph top-speed, even though it's is only a 4-speed. The racing gearbox or either of the close gearboxes will provide us with an extra gear, making each aftermarket tranny a 5-speed. I've found either of these useful, depending where the car is being driven.

The SVX was one of Subaru's earliest attempts at making an all-wheel drive production vehicle, and getting it to operate smoothly. The predecessor to the SVX (the XT) was one of the first mass-production all-wheel drive cars ever, but Subaru had previously been making farmer-happy pickup trucks. Some complained that the XT was "truckish", since it had hardware shared by the Subaru Brat! So with the SVX, Subaru engineered lots of thought into improving all this.

One thing for sure, the SVX does have incredible traction. Wheel-spin is non-existent, and oversteer easily correctable if you've got the right tires. In the next section, we'll see just what makes this car so darn special.

CHASSIS / HANDLING-----------------------

Our platypus-like vehicle will seem boring to drive in slower races. It's not going to lose its composure. It's not going to suffer from any sort of embarassing wheel-spin incidents under acceleration. Ever. Instead, it rolls along smoothly like a Howitzer, rarely getting upset by any bumps that come its way. What is happening under the car is really interesting, though.

This Subaru was among the first to feature something called VTD, otherwise known as variable torque distribution. VTD is basically a computer which works to keep power evenly distributed to all wheels, enhancing this car's cornering capabilities and making it maneuverable despite its heavy weight, multiple drive-axles, and dozens of mechanical bits. The wheels will lock only when you jam the brakes on a questionable surface, but this behaviour will always be short-lived. The only time you'll see excessive wheel spin (GT1) is if an SVX gets airborne or gallops over one of the steep apex curbs at a track like the Mountain one.

......Again, in GT2 the SVX can be a lot more of a bear to drive, but mostly this is due to the extra weight it's packing that can't be removed.

Other cars may be faster than this one, but they lack the VTD system; and therefore they lack the SVX's efficient use of power thru corners of all kinds. It is absolutely amazing the traction an SVX possesses -- I was shocked to find myself blowing away competition in the GT-league races of the first game, beating a Viper, a Griffith, and an NSX. My wins due to the excellent traction and power-to-pavement qualities, not necessarily because the SVX had alot of power. This car will rarely place well in qualifying sessions (unless you've got some talent)...but the cornering is so good, you'll find yourself being able to outdo other, faster cars in turns if you've got some experience. A strut suspension (front & rear) provides plenty of leeway no matter which track is being raced. Subarus are generally made to handle with style, so most typical SVX problems are encountered only happen at high speed, once the car is being pushed for its worth.

Mostly, it's mid-corner oversteer that kills SVX capability. Using countersteer as a method to get straightened out will often just make the front-end snap-back towards the outside of the corner (unless the front tires aren't very sticky). For this reason, it is imperative to drive thru trickier turns by braking heavily before starting in. Go for 'grip' rather than 'drift' or sliding.

The SVXs of GT2 will generally tolerate more abuse than the GT1 version L, but you'll still need to treat this car gently at times. Either SVX is a poor choice for trying to win a high-paced event and drift at the same time. But of course, that's why Subaru created the Impreza.

I've noticed that we WILL get more rear tire-smoking action from an SVX in the 2nd game, once it's got Stage 3 tuning. This recalcitrance is easily curable with a limited-slip differential, in case you want the car behaving nicely again. Personally, I kinda like the question mark that comes with stability loss--and prefer to save a few credits by not buying the full-custom LSD for my SVXes. The SVX isn't a very 'fun' car, so I'll take any playfulness it has to offer.

Anyways, this is one of the AWD cars that is able to handle high brake settings front and rear without much fear of spinning out or other braking-associated catastrophes. It remains as stable under braking as it does during acceleration. The brake controller is therefore a great buy once the car is at an intermediate level of racing. On most tracks, you'll actually want to rely on braking a lot more than downshifting to slow the car.

It's a bit of a shame the SVX was not only dropped in real-life, but in subsequent GT games; for it does not appear in GT3 or 4. Should it? I certainly think so, especially in GT4. But since it's only in the first two games, it's somewhat of a novelty.

PROS-----------------------------------------------

1). Amazing handling. Race-worthy tires are standard; meaning you can tackle plenty of early races with normal (stock) tires.

2). Odd-looking style of this car makes it unique.

3). Not too saturated in Gran Turismo or GT2. One of the few Japanese automobiles that doesn't have 13 other versions clogging up those used & new car lots. The fact that (in real-life) the SVX is rarely seen also adds to this car's mystique.

4). Top speed is decent at 160 mph+ while stock. One thing for sure: this one may be an oddity, but it is obviously geared for speed.

5). Highly maneuverable. Will not spin out, lose lateral traction, or surprise unnecessarily, unless you're going way too fast thru a corner or something. After a few laps of this car's "safety-first" routine, you may be tempted to push it around to find its true limits.

5). Sometimes the traction is so good, it's possible to wonder if the car is riding on rails instead of pneumatic tires.

6). Race kit available in both games the SVX appears in.

7). A good assortment of aftermarket parts available for the engine.


CONS------------------------------------------

1). Somewhat of a bore to drive, especially in slower and intermediate races.

2). High gearing limits acceleration until a racing gearbox is bought. Really sluggish acceleration when compared against Subaru's more famous models. In GT1, the SVX really bogs down out of first gear.

3). Heavy. This flagship model apparently carries lots of weight in unnecessary accesories and gadgets from a racer's perspective. The race-kitted cars in GT2 remain heavy.

4). The car's habit of extreme traction sometimes works a bit too well thru corners, forcing inexperienced drivers to have problems keeping the SVX going in the direction they want. Not much of a drifter, either.

5). "It's too weird-looking" some say. Ugly. Deformed... whatever...
 
6). Somewhat pricey too, especially in the first game.  
 
7). Zillions of power-upgrades aren't available. Most Subarus in GT2 can be upped over 400 horses, for instance. Not the SVX, which tops 383.
 
 
Published: June 17, 2004
Re-edited: September 11, 2007



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