TUNE UP: Remember George Michael with this supercharged Subaru kei car ad

The Subaru Rex Combi VX Supercharger was introduced in March 1988, and along with it came a snazzy new ad campaign. The addition of a supercharger to the 550cc kei hatchback boosted output from 36 to 54 horsepower, which doesn’t sound like much but was a 50 percent increase in a car weighing 590kg (1300 pounds). It also had a fairly advanced (for its time) electronic fuel injection system, three valves per cylinder and a CVT automatic decades before they body snatched Nissan’s entire lineup. 

It quickly became the flagship model for the Rex nameplate. For some reason, Subaru’s marketing department thought George Michael’s “Faith” would be the perfect song to which a zippy little kei jidosha was introduced and the attributes of the continuously variable transmission explained. Somehow, though, it all works. RIP George Michael, and may you enjoy “dancin'” with your Subaru Rex in the great beyond.

Special thanks to Hideki K.

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6 Responses to TUNE UP: Remember George Michael with this supercharged Subaru kei car ad

  1. Nigel says:

    Sounded good until you said CVT,,, RIP George Michael.

    • Ant says:

      CVTs aren’t *all* bad. Arguably the perfect transmission for city-bound cars like kei jidosha: all the ease-of-use benefits of an automatic without the habit a traditional auto has (or used to have) of sapping away valuable power. And when you’re in traffic the typical rise and fall of engine revs isn’t quite as drastic as it can be on the open road.

    • Modern Subaru CVTs are great, god I can’t believe I said that…

      I haven’t driven one of these yet though. But yes the vast majority of CVTs are tragic.

  2. Interesting fact. Now when I see Subaru I will remember George Michael. RIP GM…

  3. Negishi no Keibajo says:

    Oh the 80’s… We were a bit embarassed to be seen with big hair & Wham! but we miss Group B & George Michael. After moving away from Japan in the early 70’s, I returned to the crazy cool cars of the 80’s. What a great era in retrospect (for cars at least). Unfortunately, i find maintaining the cars from this era to be the most challenging with thier mixture oid & new technologies. Solid State circuts running through relays = bad nightnare. RIP Mr. George Michael.

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