4 Things You Didn’t Know About the Subaru Challenge in Singapore

Alevin Chan
Last updated Nov 08, 2016


The Subaru Challenge sounds like an easy way to own a car, but here’s what most Singaporeans don’t know about this competition.

The Mediacorp Subaru Car Challenge is back in Singapore to inflict sore backs, jelly knees and spontaneous hallucinations.

In 2016, a winner will emerge from among 400 contestants who came from all over Asia for the chance to win a brand new car – a Subaru XV 1.6 I-S, worth S$69,600.

What is the Subaru Challenge?

The Subaru Challenge is that crazy competition where you place one hand on a designated spot on a chosen vehicle for as long as you can. The last man/woman left standing wins the car!

There are breaks given, of course (the organisers aren’t monsters). Every contestant gets a generous 5-minute break for every 6 hours of standing in place. There are also stage performances and DJ shows to help the participants and their supporters pass the time.

Here are 4 things you did not know about the 15-year-old competition.

Contestants at the Subaru Palm Challenge 2015. Image source: Auto Freaks
Contestants at the Subaru Palm Challenge 2015. Photo source: Auto Freaks

1. The Car You Win Does NOT Come with COE

Participants no doubt got an extra shot of motivation during last year’s competition when it was announced that the prize also includes the vehicle’s COE.

That was the first time in 14 years that the COE would be paid for, which bumped the value of the prize to over S$100,000.

However, the ultimate winner in 2015 was a Vietnamese gentleman, meaning that the sponsors’ good intentions to pay for the COE remain just that. The Subaru Challenge had grown to be an Asia-wide affair since 2008.

Perhaps still giddy at having dodged the bullet in 2015, the organisers has decided to stick to tradition and not give away the COE this year.

A quick check found that as of October, the COE for a Subaru XV 1.6i-S stood at nearly S$51,000. Onlookers and supporters, use this information however you will.

Contestant at the 2015 Subaru Challenge. Photo source: Channel News Asia
Contestant at the 2015 Subaru Challenge. Photo source: Channel News Asia

2. The Competition Pushes the Edges of Human Limits

Last year’s competition ended after a staggering 77 hours and 58 minutes. Still, that timing was practically a breeze when compared to 2014’s backbreaking 82 hours and 16 minutes.

Compare this to the 60 hours that the winner of the first competition endured in 2002, and one thing becomes abundantly clear: the Subaru Challenge has gotten way tougher.

In order to stand a chance at winning, you need bull-like endurance and the fitness to carry your ambitions through. The challenge has bested even the likes of martial arts instructors and young adult athletes.  

We know of someone who had to drop out of this year’s competition on account of a swollen wrist. And to think that he had trained for the challenge for well over a month, doing squats and goodness knows what else.

A contestant collapses at last year's Subaru Palm Challenge. Photo source: Channel News Asia
A contestant collapses at last year’s Subaru Palm Challenge. Photo source: Channel News Asia

3. You Could (Temporarily) Lose Your Mind

You can imagine that the challenge is pretty brutal on your body. But even if your legs don’t give way, your mind likely will.

Past participants have been seen wandering off in the middle of the competition because they forgot they were in the middle of the competition. Some also reported hallucinations, seeing their fingers as potato chips and keyboards.

A runner-up in 2014’s challenge reported seeing black spots and hearing music in her head after going for 80 hours without sleep. When her finger eventually slipped and she was tapped out, she was bewildered to find herself in the competition in the first place.

Vietnamese national Nguyen Phuoc Huynh was the winner of the 2016 Subaru Challenge. Photo source: Channel News Asia
Nguyen Phuoc Huynh was the winner of the 2016 Subaru Challenge. Photo source: Channel News Asia

4. It Is the Most Cost-efficient Way to Own a Car

Last year’s winner walked (or most likely, limped) away with a vehicle worth about S$58,000 (less COE) after a gruelling 78 hours.

This works out to an hourly rate of S$743.60 per hour. Had he been Singaporean, and therefore entitled to receive the COE, his hourly rate would be an eye-popping S$1,475 per hour.

Having spent 82 hours to win a S$85,000 car, the winner the year before clocked an hourly rate of S$1,036 per hour.

Now, unless you know another way to earn between S$1,000 to S$1,500 per hour consistently for at least 80 hours, the Subaru Challenge remains the most cost-efficient way to own a fancy sports car for ordinary folks like you and me.

All you have to do is to outlast everyone else as you suffer knee-aches and backaches from hell, resist the temptation to eat your fingers, and find some way to rein in your soul as it fights to flee your mortal shell.

Easy peasy.

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Alevin ChanBy Alevin Chan
A Certified Financial Planner with a curiosity about what makes people tick, Alevin’s mission is to help readers understand the psychology of money. He’s also on an ongoing quest to optimize happiness and enjoyment in his life.


Alevin Chan November 8, 2016 9112