SU-BA-RU, pronouncing that name will suffice to get any petrol head at least a little bit excited. After all the Japanese company is responsible for the Impreza, subject of many car enthusiast daydreams. The Impreza is now called the WRX STI.
But we did not get our hands on the WRX STI just yet! We did however manage to get hold of the Subaru XV. We’re talking about the recently face lifted model. Presented to the Benelux public at the 2016 European motor show Brussels.
The XV is the Crossover (X stands for “Cross” V stands for “Over) SUV model from Subaru, based on the earlier mentioned WRX STI. It looks like the slightly less aggressive but higher on it wheels cousin of the WRX STI. If we leave the Subaru BRZ out of the equation, it’s fair to state that the XV would not be a real Subaru without a boxer engine and AWD (all-wheel drive). Thankfully Subaru has decided to go against the current trend of front wheel drive SUV’s. The Boxer engine turns out to be a great choice as well, because it is mounted very low, the center of gravity is also very low. This means: better handling! Add some stiff suspension and symmetrical AWD and you have a car that corners very well. It hardly has any bodyroll. If you want to drive it super sporty you will be confronted with slightly vague steering feedback. Since the XV is not a real sports car this should be forgiven.
Especially when you let it roam free in its natural habitat: off-roading trails. The XV truly is welcome in these times of crossover SUV’s who a hardly anything more than a FWD C-segment car that sits higher on its wheels. Don’t get me wrong I get why they are so popular: they look a lot better than the mono-volume cars & soccer mom vans they replace. They are easy to get in and out of. And they often come at reasonable prices. That said: it’s not fair to compare these cars to the XV. This car has just as much ground clearance if not more than its big brother the Subaru Forester. You can take the Subaru XV on an off-road trail without a worry in the world. The AWD system always delivers just the right amount of grip. It has no problems getting out of tight spots on difficult soils. The suspension will take care of most of the large potholes. The smaller ones that you may have overlooked can sting though. Luckily the excellent seats will take away some of the punch. And when all is said and done, the XV does not feel out of place in the urban jungle either. The XV can do anything a budget SUV can do, but they can’t keep up with the XV on certain aspects.
It might not be the smallest or most compact of the cross-over SUV’s, but that’s what rear view cameras are for! You can easily park this car in smaller parking spaces in city centers. When you have the XV parked next to the Asian Crossover SUV to beat, the Nissan Qashqai. You’ll notice that the XV looks bigger and more robust. Part of that is an optical illusion due to the XV’s potent design. The XV is in fact longer but the Qashqai is wider. (XV = 4,45 meter in length, and 1,78 meter wide, the Qashqai is 4,37 meter in length and 1,80 meter wide.)
But what if you’re not offroading? Well the car is just as useful for daily driving! Visibility is excellent thanks to the slim A-pillar, add the big mirrors to the equation and you have a success formula for stress free driving, even on the busy ring surrounding Brussels. The car uses its AWD system at all times; in normal situations it will deliver 60% of the power to the front wheels and the remaining 40% to the back wheels. When necessary these percentages will be adjusted accordingly. The Lineartronic automatic transmission does a great job. It’s so smooth that it’s hard to tell when it shifts gears. Whenever you feel like it you can switch gears by using the paddles on the steering wheel. The fuel consumption mentioned in the brochure is 6,5 liter per 100 km’s. Sadly with my driving style it turned out to be somewhere around 8,5 liters.
I already touched on the fact that this is the XV MY16 model. The facelift consists of a few subtle but significant upgrades: a restyled radiator grill, L-shaped LED strips in the front bumper, aluminum roof rails, and adjusted design for the 17 inch alloy wheels, clear plastic taillights and LED indicators integrated in the mirrors are some of the biggest improvements.
The materials used in the interior are firm and I suspect long-lasting. Although they are just a hint less refined than what we are accustomed to in European cars. They could consider taking it down a notch when it comes to the use of different types of plastics and textures, this would make for a more serene overall look. Truth be told, most of those European cars are a lot more expensive. Can’t have it all…
The Subaru Starlink multimedia system is pretty straight forward; the GPS system is easy to use and no-nonsense. The touch display is quite responsive and has crisp image quality. When you connect your Ipod/ipod via USB, you can enjoy your own selection of tunes. The display will show you the album cover and general information about the music playing. You might find multimedia systems with more functionality in different cars. They tend to be more complex and because of that less ideal for using while driving. The Starlink’s slick and simple interface make it a very usable all-round multimedia system.
In Belgium the starting price for an XV are 19.995 €, this will get you the 1.6i (114 HP) base model. We tested the 2.0i (150 HP) premium premium lineartronic CVT model, the price for this model starts at 28.995 €. A tad more expensive than the base model, but because of the very generous option package included, still a very competitive price! Options included but not limited to: rear-view camera, climate control, cruise control, automatic rain sensing windscreen wipers, keyless access, front seat heaters, leather wrapped steering wheel and gearshift knob, roof rails, tinted glass in rear doors, power sliding, tilt-adjustable glass sunroof, auto start-stop system … I almost forgot to mention the 2.0 (114 HP) diesel model, the price starts at 26.995 €.
Subaru really managed to deliver a nice product at a reasonable price!
- Always 4×4
- True off-road skills
- Very complete option package included in premium models
- Trustworthy reputation
- Solid multimedia system
- The taxman will find you if you buy the 2.0 liter petrol model
Conclusion: The Subaru XV is built from the bottom up as a true AWD vehicle; this makes it a great car both on and next to the road. The pricing of the 1.6i base model is hard to beat in the AWD Cross-over segment. Even the 2.0i premium is still a good deal thanks to the generous amount of options included. Take in account the great reputation Subaru has for building reliable cars and you have an underdog that deserves to be on top.
Pictures & review: Jonas