Morph for the money

The Im­preza takes a step for­ward and the XV a leap

Herald Sun - Motoring - - First Drive -

XV is de­scribed as a sub­com­pact SUV, smaller than a Forester, but big­ger than a small hatch.

The XV ar­rives in Jan­uary, fol­lowed a month later by the new Im­preza sedan and hatch.

VALUE

The out­go­ing Im­preza range starts at $21,490 and goes to $28,490, ex­clud­ing thewrx ANDWRXSTI. Not only do the sports mod­els lose the Im­preza name, they have their own build pro­gram.

The pre­vi­ous Im­preza RX sold for $25,990. The clos­est com­peti­tors for the new XV are the Mit­subishi ASX (from $25,990) and Nis­san Dualis (from $24,990).

Both new Subarus come in three lines: 2.0i, L and S.

Even the base mod­els come with Blue­tooth, while the L adds sat­nav and the S gets leather seats with heat­ing for the front pews. Rearview cam­era, fog­lights and a sun­roof are op­tional on the L and S Im­preza, but are stan­dard on

all XVS.

SAFETY

Al­ready fives­tar crash test per­form­ers, the Im­preza and XV come with seven airbags, in­clud­ing ful­l­length cur­tain airbags and a knee­bag for the driver. A ma­jor safety im­prove­ment is in the driver’s vi­sion. The front seats have been raised, the wind­screen pil­lar has been nar­rowed and the door mir­rors are 20 per cent big­ger.

The body and chas­sis are 20kg lighter but are also 10 per cent stiffer.

TECH­NOL­OGY

The Im­preza will be the first con­ven­tion­ally pow­ered small car in Aus­tralia to have auto stop-start across the range and the XV will be the first com­pact SUV with this fuel-sav­ing tech­nol­ogy.

Subaru quotes fuel sav­ings of 5 per cent from the tech­nol­ogy, but those are in-house fig­ures and not Aus­tralian stan­dards.

‘‘ It will de­bunk the the­ory that all-wheel-drive cars aren’t fuel-ef­fi­cient,’’ says prod­uct man­ager Ak­i­hide Takeuchi.

Stop-start au­to­mat­i­cally switches off the en­gine in 0.5 sec­onds when the car is stopped and restarts in 0.35 sec­onds when the brake pedal is re­leased.

A new 2.0-litre ver­sion of Subaru’s trade­mark boxer en­gine, new trans­mis­sions, im­proved aero­dy­nam­ics and elec­tric power steer­ing drop fuel econ­omy to be­low 7.0L/100km, a claimed 20 per cent im­prove­ment.

The en­gine has the same power and torque as be­fore but now has a longer stroke for more torque at lower revs, which trans­lates to bet­ter ac­cel­er­a­tion.

The man­ual now has six speeds, with a taller top gear that re­duces en­gine revs from 3000rpm at 100km/h to less than 2500rpm, which is not only more eco­nom­i­cal but also qui­eter.

The in­ad­e­quate and out­dated four-speed auto is gone in favour of a con­tin­u­ously vari­able trans­mis­sion with pad­dle shifters and six pre­sets.

Screens abound in­side: one in the cen­tre of the in­stru­ments, one in the cen­tre stack and a third on the dash­board.

The larger multi-func­tion dis­play has up to eight dis­plays, which can be per­son­alised to show a range of use­ful in­for­ma­tion and can even send you a happy birth­day mes­sage.

The up­graded au­dio also has USB, MP3 and iphone con­nec­tiv­ity and there is a new sat­nav sys­tem with voice con­trol and pre­dic­tive text when en­ter­ing an ad­dress. It will even of­fer you a more eco­nom­i­cal route to save on fuel and CO emis­sions.

All-wheel-drive is, of course, stan­dard.

DE­SIGN

Crit­i­cism of the out­go­ing Im­preza’s ex­te­rior shape and hard plas­tic in­te­rior ma­te­ri­als has been heeded. The wind­screen is more steeply raked, the body­work more sculpted and the head­lights sharper and more de­fined.

The XV has high ground clear­ance of 220mm (the same as the Forester) but has a lower body height than most com­pact SUVS for a rak­ish, sporty cross­over look.

The wheel­base is 25mm longer that the old RX but the over­all length re­mains the same, which means in­te­rior legroom is im­proved.

That’s fur­ther en­hanced by higher front seats while both mod­els now have scal­loped out seat backs on the front pews. Re­vised door ge­om­e­try im­proves ac­cess, too.

The in­te­rior feels more airy, thanks to the thin­ner front pil­lars and the hor­i­zon­tal lines across the dash­board.

Stor­age bins abound in both mod­els with door pock­ets that fit a water bot­tle and an A4 folder or lap­top. The cen­tre con­sole has a handy clip-holder for a notebook and a pen.

Paired up: The Im­preza, left, will ar­rive in sedan and hatch form in Fe­bru­ary, join­ing the XV, a ‘‘sub­com­pact SUV’’, right

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