The latest version of the compact Subaru SUV aligns closely under the skin to the Subaru Impreza hatch and is looking to further improve Subaru’s growing market share in this segment.
Offered in four variants with price-drops across the range, the XV starts at $27,990, and boasts a handy list of standard features. It challenges the Mazda CX-3, Nissan Qashqai, Honda HR-V and Toyota C-HR and we feel has the firepower to stay the course. It’s the only model in this class with permanent all-wheel-drive
Sunshine orange stitching, brushed metal highlights and a sleek, sculpted dash sets the tone for the interior of the new Subaru XV. It feels spacious and light, an easy comfortable place to be in.
An 8.0-inch colour infotainment screen and second smaller display grab the eye in a console that shows clear thought has been given to both layout and integrated design.
Maybe not as funky as you would envisage for a car with the millennials in its focus, but with enough spirit to interest.
Subaru has upped it standard features across the XV range while dropping the price. The top shelf 2.0i-S ($300 cheaper at $35,240) comes with all manner of goodies including leather trim, heated front seats, dual-zone climate control, steering-responsive LED headlights,18-inch alloys, electric sunroof, sat-nav, reverse camera and an enviable safety package.
On the outside the Subaru XV remains striking and not easily forgotten. It is a mix of style and rugged promise with the resin wheel arches and strong lines hinting at its all-round capability.
The 8.0-inch colour touchscreen in the 2.0i-S we tested is uncomplicated and easy to use with crisp picture and good graphics. There is sat-nav via TomTom with three years of map updates. Bluetooth connectivity is a cinch, although voice recognition can be iffy, and the system also pairs easily with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
There are two USB ports, two 12V outlets and even a CD player for those that just can’t let go yet.
ENGINES / TRANSMISSIONS
All four variants in the range are powered by the same 2.0-litre horizontally-opposed naturally-aspirated four-cylinder engine paired with a CVT automatic. The combination is good for a restrained 115kW of power and 196Nm of torque.
The manual, which previously accounted for only 13 per cent of sales is a thing of the past.
Only the entry-level XV misses out on Subaru’s impressive EyeSight system. For the uninitiated, it is a camera-based safety system that uses brake light recognition as the basis for a long list of driver-aid features.
This includes things like autonomous emergency braking, brake assist, rear cross traffic alert, reverse automatic braking as well adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning, blind spot monitoring and lane-keeping assist. Vision Assist switches from high to low beam when it detects oncoming headlights.
The XV also has six airbags, front seat-belt pre-tensioners with load limiters and the usual stability and traction control for a five star ANCAP rating.
There are IsoFix mounts on the outboard rear seats and top tethers across all three.
For the driver and the front passenger there is room that belies the nature of a compact SUV, that’s thanks to a longer wheelbase. The back seat copes well with two tallish adults, even on extended forays, the higher middle perch and transmission tunnel making it harder to turn that two into three.
Cup holders behind the gear selectors, bottle holders in the doors, a well-sized glovebox and deep centre console bin offer good interior storage. And there is a very usable compartment at the bottom of the centre stack to hold your phone, keys and incidentals.
Speaking of storage, the boot measures 310 litres with the back seats in place, 765 litres with them folded. Not as much room as most competitors because the full-size spare under the floor takes up a lot of space.
Like the Impreza, the XV uses Subaru’s all-new global platform which offers a lower centre of gravity and greater rigidity for a better driving dynamics both on and off the bitumen. Tuned for Australian roads, the XV is accomplished over bumps, confident through the corners and unfussed by everyday conditions.
The higher driving position and excellent visibility make it easier to relax into the drive, helped of course by the fact that the XV rarely needs steering corrections or driver input that strays from script. The steering has enough feel off-centre to keep you engaged, the brakes are comfortably progressive and the cabin is surprisingly well insulated.
Continuously Variable Transmissions are often criticised for their annoying whine and that instant drone when you press hard on the accelerator or on quick descents, but this one does better than most. There is a lower first gear for improved acceleration on take-off and a taller ratio at the other end of the range to assist with fuel efficiency at cruising speeds.
It feels pretty secure on the dirt too thanks to X-Mode, previously only available in the Forrester. X-Mode will not turn the XV into an off-road machine, but at speeds below 40km/h it does allow it to be more useful on more adventurous paths. It allows you to negotiate steep tracks and slippery surfaces by centralising control of the engine and locks the AWD into a 50:50 front-to-rear torque split.
This, coupled with a 4WD-like 220mm ground clearance and an auto-braking Hill Descent control gives the XV a useful off-road ability that adds to its practicality.
Consumption is an official 7.0L/100km, with our week behind the wheel registering 8.4L/100km, a tad high one thinks given the size of this vehicle but by no means a deal breaker.
The Subaru XV comes with a three years unlimited kilometre warranty with capped-price servicing for the first three years. Service intervals are set at 12 months or 12,500km and there is a further two years of transparent servicing pricing.
Capable and assured with good driving dynamics, an excellent safety package and generous inclusions, the Subaru XV makes for an appealing choice. We could so with a touch more power especially when quick acceleration is needed under load but that is not a sticking point.
It has the technical savvy to entice a younger generation and the space and ease of use to satisfy older drivers while its off-road ability adds another string to a well-weighted bow.
AT A GLANCE
Price: from $35,240 (plus on-road costs)
Engine: 2.0-litre Boxer four-cylinder petrol
Output: 115kW at 6000rpm and 196Nm at 4000rpm
Transmission: CVT automatic, AWD
Fuel: 7.0/100km (ADR Combined)
Warranty: Three years unlimited kilometres
Safety Rating: Five Star ANCAP
WHAT WE LIKED:
WHAT WE DIDN’T:
Sometime sluggish power delivery
Cheap plastics in some parts of cabin