After skipping yesterday, I was going to try to reward Car Lust's few but long-suffering readers for this week's weirdness (AMC Eagle? Honda Ridgeline?) by presenting a lovingly crafted piece on the Lotus Esprit S1. However, after a few minutes of writer's block, I realized I didn't have the superlatives in me today to laud its inspired design. So, instead, here's the Subaru XT. It's as wedgy as a Lotus Esprit S1, only without the superlatives.
Actually, if you cross your eyes a little, the XT's spec sheet made it look a lot like something like its famous grandchild, the Subaru WRX. It started off with a light, compact, extremely aerodynamic body, all-wheel-drive, and a turbocharged four-cylinder engine. The Subaru XT6 replaced the turbo four with a horizontally opposed (or flat) six--a configuration that, as Subaru breathlessly reminded us in XT6 ads, is the same as that used in the Porsche 911.
Combined with its wildly edgy lines, reminiscent of the exotics of the 1970s, those advanced specifications make the XT a budget supercar, right? Well, no. The XT was sporty only in relation to Subaru's other, more agricultural, contemporary offerings, and is a crude, slow implement compared its more competent sporting Subaru successors, the SVX and WRX.
I really like the XT, though, precisely because it's such an oddball. It's as if somebody mixed together an original Esprit with a dollop of 1980s Japanese techno-geekery and mixed in Citroen's design ethic. Its look is absurdly otherworldy both inside and out. I love the flying-wedge look; its chunky Japanese detailing is oddly reminiscent of the original Battlestar Galactica. On the inside, its uber-digital dashboard and bizarrely asymetrical steering wheel give it the feel of The Last Starfighter. The video below walks you through the dashboard, which was a knockout at the time.
Performance-wise, the XT was underpowered and an average handler. The XT turbo could muster only 110 horsepower; the XT6 upped the ante to 145 horsepower, but even that was only good for a 0-60 time in the 9-second range--barely average in its class. Still, while it wasn't fast, the XT combined all the sturdy goodness of 1980s Subarus with some weirdly compelling details.
At the time, Subaru was one of the automotive world's eccentric genius, smart enough to be ahead of the curve on all-wheel drive, but yet still free-spirited enough to come up with a strange flight of fancy like the XT. Today's fast turbo Subaru Legacys and Foresters wear the XT designation. That's probably coincidence, but I'd like to think it's a tip of the cap to Subaru's first sports car.
If you've ever wanted to put together a Subaru paper model--and who hasn't?--your wish has now been answered.
P.S. By the way, Our Cars Week starts Monday. We've had so many good responses that I may end my posts about my own cars at the end of next week but continue the reader posts for another week or so. As long as you keep sending me good posts, I'll keep posting them!