The Subaru XV has always been something of an Impreza in drag and stilettos. It was cool to look at but there was not much to bowl you over compared to other cars in its segment. The new model continues the “Impreza in drag” theme, with the same Subaru Global Underpinnings as the new Impreza I drove last year.
This 2.0i-S ES Premium Spec derivative came fitted with all the bells and whistles for R445 000 … so, is there more substance than in its predecessor?
What can I expect from the XV?
Much more macho looking than its predecessor, the new XV exhibits definite family ties with the new Impreza. Some might find the “elongated” rear slightly awkward, but the black, textured over-runners and silver roof rails do their bit to add a real sense of go-anywhere adventure. As does, of course, the impressive 220 mm ground clearance.
Climbing aboard and the interior is a copy/paste of the Impreza’s – with a bit of added spice in the form of orange stitching on and around all the high-quality material surfaces.
There’s actually very little to gripe about when it comes to the interior – perhaps the only thing is that the driver’s seat could drop lower. But the seats – an all-new design with improved ventilation and back support, says Subaru – are comfy nonetheless, and there’s a load of passenger space all round. The boot, though, is disapprovingly shallow.
Is it loaded with lots of safety features and other nice toys?
This Premium Spec ES model will not leave drivers wanting… An eight-inch touch-screen infotainment system offers up navigation, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto; keyless entry and start; a sunroof – the list of features goes on.
It is the list of driver-assistance features that really impresses. ES means this model is equipped with the EyeSight driver assist system – designed to reduce driver error and fatigue, EyeSight uses various sensors and cameras to allow it to manage the throttle and brake in the case of an impending collision, alert for lane-departure and sway and brake the car automatically when an obstacle is detected while reversing. It also incorporates adaptive cruise control.
Some might find the system a little oversensitive, but the XV is one of the few cars in its price segment that offers such a suite. It does, in fact, have a five-star crash safety rating. Other notable safety technologies are blind-spot detection, lane change assist and rear cross traffic alert as well as adaptive LED headlights.
What’s it like from behind the wheel?
Fitted with Subaru’s famed Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive, the XV is now the smallest member of the family to feature X-Mode, increasing its capabilities across various terrains. That is, if it is bought for such a purpose…
Unfortunately, with most such cars never venturing off tarmac, a simpler, lighter front-wheel drive model might be a worthy addition to the local range. This could be especially advantageous as the only engine option currently available is the 115kW, 196 Nm 2,0-litre engine.
Without turbocharging it’s clear this engine could use a bit more power. It’s also thirsty, recording 11,5 l/100 km (town) as opposed to the claimed 7,3 (combined).
It drives through Subaru’s usual Lineartronic CVT gearbox, which does a good enough job day to day.
Interestingly, the XV seems more firmly sprung than the Impreza, though its higher-profile tyres add a bit of compliance. (Chassis rigidity is up 70 percent while body roll is down 50 percent over the old model).
Should I buy one, or look around?
By the end of my week with the new XV I had developed a real fondness for this crossover. It’s a surefooted, easy drive – despite the lack of power – well spec’d, comfy and has a design that hits the mark just right.
The pricing of the Premium Spec ES places it among some larger, more mainstream competitors, but I feel this car should be seen in a similar light to the likes of the Jeep Renegade Limited (R420 900), Mini Countryman (from R428 500) or even something like the Volvo V40 Cross Country (from R460 000) – which all appeal to buyers looking for something more removed from the mainstream.
Standard are a five-year/150 000 km warranty and three-year/75 000 km full maintenance plan (extendable to five-years/150 000 km).