The decade of the 1980s was difficult for the auto industry, and it left many automakers searching for an identity. Subaru had established a reputation for being different, and the XT Coupe seemed to follow suit. But driving the XT Coupe convinced many that Subaru had built a serious vehicle.


Today, 110 horsepower doesn’t sound like much, but the Coupe weighed a maximum of 2,660 pounds. It had a short wheelbase (97 inches), and Subaru had tweaked its air suspension for 1986 and increased the diameter of the rear sway bar for improved handling. In lateral acceleration, the stock 4WD Turbo XT Coupe reached a credible 0.81 G.


The XT Coupe’s handling and adaptability made a number of believers out in the automotive press. Here was the stable-mate of the Subaru BRAT, yet it had a beautiful, functional design that demonstrated Subaru engineering prowess.




We’re not done following the XT Coupe that’s being restored. We’ll follow the restoration process and report on it in future issues of Drive and here at www.drive.subaru.com.


View the retoration image gallery here.


What the XT Coupe Taught  Me About Subaru
by Ric Hawthorne, Editor
In the mid-1980s, I was the editor of an auto magazine based in Chicago.
I was mildly amused by the XT Coupe when it was delivered to magazine headquarters. My scheduled time with the car was in the midst of the winter holidays, and I used it for a holiday trip from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, to Merrillville, Indiana, at the southern tip of Lake Michigan – a distance of approximately 135 miles.
When we left Milwaukee, snow had started falling. It was predicted to be a minor snowfall, which proved conservative.
While in Merrillville, I received an emergency call from Milwaukee to return as quickly as possible. With the elements against me, particularly in the last 50 miles, the XT Coupe proved itself more than competent. The three lanes heading north had increasing amounts of snow from right to left, with no plow having touched the left-hand lane. I set the Coupe’s air suspension at its highest level and cruised through the unplowed snow. I felt in complete control and confident. The trip established my faith in Subaru All-Wheel Drive as well as my appreciation for the engineering in the XT Coupe.



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