Things change quickly in the car game. In 2012 when Subaru introduced its original XV, passenger cars outsold SUVs. Today the opposite is true. A new version of the XV will soon arrive on our shores. We’ve had a preview of it in Japan.
The longer, wider, second-generation XV sits on an all-new global platform that will underpin all Subarus in the coming years and made its debut on the Impreza in 2016.
One engine and gearbox combo, a longer wheelbase, more power, a new suspension layout, together with new levels of safety, technology, refinement and improved off-road ability will feature across four model grades; the entry 2.0i, and 2.0i-L, mid-spec 2.0i-Premium and top dog, 2.0i-S.
New from the ground up, the Subaru XV wears a fresh render and though it retains the sloping roof of its predecessor, its new design is edgier, with more prominent style lines along its flanks.
The lower body is clad with a textured plastic finish extending over the wheel arches, which in Australia will have 18-inch alloys under them.
Buyers will have a choice of eight colours and cloth or leather trim depending on the grade.
ENGINES / TRANSMISSION
There’s one engine choice in the new Subaru XV, a newly-developed, 2.0-litre direct-injection, naturally-aspirated Boxer engine producing 115kW at 6000rpm while torque remains the same, 196Nm at 4000rpm.
Although official Australian fuel figures haven’t been announced, Subaru has raised the compression ratio, improved gas flow and added a stop/start function for greater efficiency.
Missing on the second-generation Subaru XV is a manual transmission, which over the past year accounted for just 12 percent of sales.
In its place is a new design Lineartronic Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT) with a seven-speed manual mode, auto stepped speed control and shift paddles on the steering wheel. It is one of the smoothest and smartest CVT’s going and feels like a conventional auto.
A 6.5-inch (2.0i) or 8.0-inch (2.0i-L, 2.0i P, and 2.0i S) graphical user interface screen houses the easy-to-use, third-generation infotainment system that features Apple Carplay and Android Auto along with improved voice recognition and a rich array of applications.
Featured in the XV 2.0i-P and top-spec S model is a Tom Tom powered sat nav.
All models come with a six-speaker audio system.Voice activated air conditioning is standard in upper models.
The Subaru XV has just been awarded the 2016-2017 Grand Prix Award* for earning the highest score ever in Japan New Car Assessment Program (JNCAP) crash safety evaluation tests.
The XV is yet to be tested in Australia, but Subaru is confident it will score a five-star ANCAP safety rating.
The suite of safety features includes: Third-generation EyeSight; a driver assist system which debuts on the XV and will be standard on P and S models, as will Vision Assist.
All models will get an electronic park brake as standard. Other safety kit includes traction and stability control, airbags and anti-lock brakes.
Although there was only a short amount of wheel time in the new (Japanese specification) XV, initial impressions are good.
Making it first appearance on the Subaru XV is the X-Mode driver assistance system, which, when engaged, makes driving on slippery surfaces much easier.
Hill descent control automatically kicks in when X-Mode is turned on and once you have set the (up to 40km/h uphill / 20km/h downhill) as part of the cruise control, the electronics operate the power and braking, leaving just the steering for the driver to do.
Seats/head/legroom – The black cloth front seats finished with orange stitching, (unique to the XV) are comfortable and offer good upper body and thigh support. The rear seat is equally comfortable and an additional 26mm of rear leg room has been added, giving the new XV a good deal of spaciousness. Headroom in both rows is very good, even for those well over 1.8 metres.
Boot size – The models driven were for the Japanese market and fitted with a repair kit, while Australian XV’s will get a space saver spare. Although no figures are available until the local launch, we expect them to at least equal the current model’s 310 litres, seats up and 741 litres, seats down.
Steering – The electric power steering is well-weighted and provides plenty of feel on the black top and loose surfaces and there is a good range of both reach and tilt available.
Performance – Subaru has given the new XV a much-appreciated boost in power and while torque remains unchanged from its predecessor, the XV scoots along with acceptable acceleration.
The drive in Japan coincided with the start of spring, but there was plenty of snow about and I got to try the Subaru XV’s all-wheel drive, X-Mode and Hill Descent control. Pulling away from a standstill on a hill in the soft slush was easy, the all-wheel drive allowing virtually no wheelspin.
Downhill I could feel the X-Mode and Hill Descent keeping the XV’s speed in check by automatically applying the brakes, while I simply sat back and steered.
The local launch should provide an insight into the effectiveness of the Subaru’s systems in our conditions.
Ride comfort / Handling: Subaru has increased the body and chassis rigidity and reduced body vibrations by up to 50 percent to improve body control and handling.
The Subaru XV rides on a similar suspension layout to the new Impreza with taller springs to give it a 220mm ride height and unique damping settings, along with bigger anti roll bars. The result is a firm, pliant and well controlled ride and a surefooted feel behind the wheel.
When cornering, there is little evidence of body roll and it doesn’t get fazed by any rapid changes in direction as I discovered on a short slalom section.
Road noise, a bugbear of mine with recent Subies has been addressed with the XV delivering a new level of quietness on the roads we drove in Japan. Time will tell, but I expect much the same in on Australian roads.
The new Subaru XV builds on the strengths of the previous model, of which nearly 50,000 were sold in Australia. Overall interior quality and refinement, as well as its NVH are the most noticeable improvements.
It’s as crisp on the road as the new Subaru Impreza, the engine is now a bit punchier, and its impressive off-road ability is due to the addition of the new X-Mode system and Hill Descent, in addition to its all-wheel drive.
All we are waiting for now is to see how sharply Subaru plans to price it.
AT A GLANCE
Maximum Power: 115kW
Maximum Torque: 196 Nm
Fuel Type: Petrol 91RON (standard unleaded)
Lineartronic CVT All-Wheel Drive with seven-speed manual mode, auto stepped speed control, steering wheel mounted paddle shifts.
DIMENSIONS, WEIGHT AND CAPACITIES:
Length: 4465 mm
Wheelbase: 2670 mm
Width: 1800 mm
Height: 1585 mm
Turning Circle: 10.8 metres
Fuel Tank Capacity: 50 litres
Ride height: 220mm
Departure angles: Front 18 degrees Rear 30 degrees
Front: Solid disc
Rear: Solid disc
Three years / unlimited kilometres