The Subaru XT Was Too Weird to Work and Too Cool to Be Forgotten

Subaru is weird. This isn’t a dig on the Subbies. In fact, it’s the opposite; Subaru has a long history of taking the (paved) road less traveled. Look no further than the Subaru XT. This strange little sports sedan was simply too bizarre to work but too cool to be forgotten. If you thought the Subaru Baja was weird, you ain’t seen nothing yet. 

Subaru XT6 in blue parked in a driveway
Subaru XT6 | Wikimedia commons

What is the Subaru XT?

As keenly pointed out by Hagerty, the mid-’80s welcomed a rash of buzzy little sports sedans as the oil crisis finally began to wane. This growing trend saw great nameplates from other Japanese carmakers like the Honda Prelude and the Toyota Celica debuting around this time. However, a weird little fiberglass car set many of these trends in place.

Subaru had no car to compete with. Their fellow compatriots were pulling away. So Subaru decided to slap the eager little EA-series flat-four – that eventually got turbocharged – into the plucky little car. According to Hotcars, the Subaru XT eventually got one of the company’s only six-cylinder engines, the 2.7-liter flat-six. While the four made a spritely 111 hp, the much rarer six-cylinders made 145 hp. 

Still being a Subaru, the XT was, of course, still AWD. This AWD sports car looks crazy, and it was AWD but still only managed a 10.2-second 0-60 mph sprint. Oh, Subaru. Sadly, according to Hagerty, this was quick for Subbies at the time. It also had a drag coefficient as low as 0.29, making it the most aerodynamic car sold in America. You see? Weird but also undeniably cool. Onward. 

The Subaru XT was way ahead of its time

Hagerty mentions that the XT offered features that were, in some cases, decades ahead of their time. Think about it, in 1985; this car had adjustable air suspension, a turbocharged four-cylinder, AWD (FWD too), digital dashboards, a hill-holder feature, speed alarm, a focus on aerodynamics, trunk pass-through, and a trip computer. This may not sound hot by today’s standards, but the XT was innovative. 

The ‘80s were weird, and so is Subaru

Technology was on the brink of a major boom in the mid-’80s. Because of this, many ‘80s technologies were bizarre. People had some great ideas at the time, ideas that would prove to be the standard 20 years later. 

Even cooler than these new features was the styling. The Subaru XT is so ‘80s it almost hurts. For instance, the AWD cars had a button that you pressed when you wanted to engage all four wheels. A literal big red button controls this feature. So cool.

The interior looked like something from a period sci-fi film. The steering wheel was asymmetrical; there were lights and gauges everywhere, and an overall sense that everything in the XT was designed for the driver alone. This was more than a feeling; Subaru designed the driver’s position to feel like the cockpit of a fighter jet. I mean, does it get better than that? Well, yes. It does. But it doesn’t get much cooler. 

Honestly, this car had so many cool design cues, and funky features that attempting to write it off for its flaws or failures seems a tad unfair. So, let’s raise a glass to the weird little Subbie. Who knows? Maybe, Subaru will remember its weirdness and give us an XT concept. Or just bring back the Subaru Baja. 

RELATED: We All Owe the Subaru Baja a Big Apology