My personal opinion of engineers is that they’re hardly the life of a dinner party. They can hold their own if the conversation turns to ‘absolute zero’, gaming and bridge building or sometimes just bridge, but otherwise I’m an ex-arts student who’s totally rubbish at holding their attention.
The one thing that does bring me closer to the sort, is if I’m ever brandishing the keys of a Subaru. Engineers live for these heavy metal, mentalist, Japanese machines and it’s easy to understand why when you climb behind the wheel of one and realise the passion for engineering that goes into it.
We all love to think of Subaru as all-wheel-drive Impreza WRX STI’s, but now, quite ironically, it’s the upcoming, rear wheel drive BRZ that we’re really looking forward to. This might allude to an idea of a changing mind set at Subaru. For now though, its Subaru’s newest offering in the lucrative, crossover hatchback segment that we must focus on. It’s a far cry from its rather unremarkable Impreza XV (as it was badged here in South Africa) brethren, which used to patrol this once burgeoning market a few years ago. By dropping the Impreza badge, Subaru are hoping this all new XV will climb assuredly up the sales target board in a way the previous one simply didn’t.
The sleekly designed bonnet and muscular nose is new for the Subaru family. Combined with the hexagonal grille it gives the XV an energetic, all-purpose look, typically befitting a crossover vehicle these days. The HID Xenon headlamps provide great visibility at night as well as adding a premium finish to the front of the car. In profile, the tall rear window openings are typical of the previous model, as are the practical, integrated roof rails that can help you transport any trendy lifestyle gear. Newly designed black-on-silver, 17-inch alloy wheels come standard on the XV and you might say they give it a slightly street modified look. In our eyes the rear styling leaves a little to be desired however, not quite capturing the fresh good looks of the front end. The wing mirrors offer up 20% improved rear visibility, but they are also enormous and not particularly appealing to look at.
As for the interior, the XV provides one of the most comfortable experiences we’ve had in a Subaru in ages. It is a huge improvement over previous Subaru hatchbacks. The A-pillars have been moved forward to create more space for the front passengers and a 25 mm increase in the wheelbase, together with shorter front and rear overhangs, allow it to maintain a zippy driving attitude. The front seats now offer more vertical adjustment than before and the new seats are more ergonomic whilst providing more shoulder room.
The most significant change to the Subaru XV’s interior comes in the form of a new, centrally mounted, multi-function information display. It communicates all the usual details to the driver, like average speed, temperature, fuel consumption, etc, but it also shows drivetrain information, which indicates pulsating wheels as you accelerate, as well as the amount of steering angle being applied to the front wheels. This will presumably help you when off-roading or if you’re stuck in sand. The optional audio and satellite navigation system on our test unit includes a CD/MP3-player with USB connectivity, Bluetooth, steering wheel-mounted audio controls and a rear facing, colour-display reverse camera. The multi-function display can also be filled with reminders for birthdays and anniversaries.
The Subaru XV continues with its tried and tested double-overhead cam, horizontally-opposed engine, which sees the 2.0-litre, four-cylinder developing 110 kW at 6 200 r/min and peak torque of 196 Nm at 4 200 r/min. Acceleration to 100 km/h takes 10.7 seconds. Subaru have also improved fuel consumption by 10% to 8.0 L/100km and 189 g/km of CO2. The continuously variable transmission (CVT) can be manipulated by using shift paddles behind the steering wheel. The CVT ‘box has been programmed with six pre-set ratios to give the driver some semblance of involvement in the process. I would’ve preferred the manual gearbox with a suitably slick action to provide maximum driver enjoyment and bring the most out of what feels like a capable engine. What is apparent is that the CVT combined with all wheel drive doesn’t feel like it provides a wealth of torque to get the XV off the line all that quickly, however, the claimed performance figures between the manual and CVT are almost identical.
The Subaru XV has an independent front suspension setup, but bushing and shock absorber characteristics have been re-worked for improved smoothness and reduced vibration. The ride quality is very compliant and quite capable in a dynamic sense on a variety of road surfaces, exhibiting good wheel travel and body control whether conditions were smooth or bumpy. The rear suspension is an independent double wishbone configuration.
The Subaru XV passed through Euro NCAP independent crash testing with a 5-star rating and it comes with a full array of seven airbags, including a driver’s knee airbag, as well as active safety systems that include: ABS; EBD; VDC and BAS.
The Subaru XV Lineartronic retails for R339 000 and while it is a competent and thoroughly improved offering over its predecessor, the price may have become slightly inflated too. Other competitors in the vast crossover hatchback segment may not be able to compete in terms of engineering, but they can offer a similar value proposition for even less outlay. Although for many, the Subaru badge will still have an appeal that transcends even the price tag. We so recommend you avoid the Lineartonic CVT however. The price includes a 3-year/75,000 km Maintenance Plan, along with a 3-year/100,000 km warranty.
What we like…
- Interior and ride comfort.
- Engine performance.
What we would like…
- To sample the manual transmission.
- A slightly keener price.
|Base Price||R339 000|
|Warranty||3 year / 100 000 km|
|Service Plan||3 year / 75 000 km|
|Engine Capacity||1 995 cm³|
|No. Of Cylinders||4-cylinders, Horizontally-opposed|
|Power||110 kW @ 6 200 r/min|
|Torque||196 N.m @ 4 200 rpm|
|Drive type||All-wheel drive|
|Acceleration||0-100 km/h in 10.7 seconds (claimed)|
|Top Speed||187 km/h (electronically limted)|
|Fuel Consumption||7.9 l/100km (claimed, combined)|