SUV has Subaru racing into the lead
IT appears Subaru has backed a winner with the new XV, with sales of the small sports utility vehicle up 139.0 per cent for August, pushing the maker to becoming the fastest growing top 10 brand in the automotive industry, according to official VFACTS figures.
Subaru took a gamble with the XV, stepping out of the square with its sharper looks over the soft-skinned majority of the segment and augmenting this with technology designed to take on conditions other soft-roaders could only dream about tackling.
The second-generation XV comes in four variants – 2.0i, 2.0i-L, 2.0i-Premium and 2.0i-S – with a reduced entry-level price of $27,990, plus on-road costs, and is the second Subaru after the new Impreza to make use of the company’s acclaimed Global Platform, designed to provide high rigidity, and strength, together with less weight. Rolling resistance is reduced with the help of specially developed tyres.
On the outside the XV uses a design theme based on sharp edges and bold curves producing a solid profile and no soft styling.
A strong horizontal bar across the radiator grille is a reminder of a horizontally opposed engine conrod and Subaru’s Boxer heritage, while a sharp windscreen angle, together with a large rear spoiler and bumper, aids aerodynamics.
The 2.0i-Premium and lower grades run on 17-inch alloy wheels.
The new Subaru Global Platform has given more interior width and height to the XV, with added attention to detail from switches and interactive displays, and use of quality materials and superior finish.
Displays vary from model to model, with a 6.3-inch colour multi-function display across the range at the top of the central dashboard presenting useful and entertainment information such as audio, air-con, fuel efficiency, favourites and settings.
The lower part of the screen provides visuals of Subaru’s advanced safety functions, including Eye Sight on 2.0i-Premium, auto lights and vision assist.
An audio screen shows the audio selection playing, with the wide screen enabling a large amount of text to be displayed, while tracks or radio channels can be chosen by using the steering wheel switch, at the same time viewing the multi-function display screen directly in front of the driver.
Smartphones with Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, can be connected via an 8-inch screen positioned high on the dash to minimise shifting of the driver’s eyes from the road. Just by speaking commands to Siri or Google Now, users can text also without taking their eyes off the road.
Music apps such as Spotify, iHeartRadio and Tuneln can be enjoyed through a sound system incorporating speakers in the rear doors, woofers in the front doors and tweeters in the instrument panel.
Power comes from a new 2-litre four-cylinder direct injection naturally aspirated Boxer engine producing 115 kW of power at 6000 rpm and 196 Nm of torque at 4000 revs and is mated with a new lightweight Lineartronic continuously variable transmission with a wider gear range than previously.
EyeSight, in conjunction with adaptive cruise control acts as a second pair of eyes for the driver, keeping a look-out for any vehicle ahead and adapting the speed to match the distance.
As with all Subarus, the XV has earned the top five-star safety rating from the Australasian New Car Assessment Program, while top-strength structural design will ensure the car is capable of the highest ratings until at least 2025.
The new XV was introduced to the media earlier this year in the Snowy Mountains and on a drive to the NSW Coast. Outside it was brass monkey weather with temperatures in minus single-figures Celsius. Inside, thanks to highly efficient climate control, the cabin was cosy without being claustrophobic.
Out on the bitumen, active torque vectoring had the XV turning better than before with improved response and control, while the all-new lane keeping assist and reverse automatic braking when parking underlined the car's fivestar safety rating.
Noise and vibration were kept to a minimum, while the four-cylinder engine was refined in its power delivery, roaring only when pressed hard. The CVT, lighter than previously, again worked smoothly and without fuss across a wider range of ratios, offering the chance for the driver
to become more involved with a sevenspeed manual mode.
On route there was a stop-off in a quarry where X-Mode and hill descent control were given an extensive workout on treacherous inclines without the vehicle flinching.
Under normal driving conditions Subaru constant all-wheel drive makes sure power is directed to the wheels with most grip, while ground clearance of 220 mm and X-Mode makes it easier for drivers to safely navigate bad roads, slippery surfaces and steep inclines at the single press of a button.
This co-ordinates the engine control unit, traction control and vehicle dynamics control to improve drivability and wheel grip. VDC also uses hill descent control to slow the vehicle on steep inclines and leave the driver to concentrate solely on steering.
Fuel consumption is claimed by the maker to be 7 litres per 100 kilometres on the combined urban / highway cycle with carbon dioxide emissions put at 159 g per kilometre for a Euro 6 rating. Minimum fuel requirement is 90 RON. The test vehicle topped 12 litres per 100 kilometres in town and half that in motorway cruising Sales figures tell the story, with more and more buyers taking advantage of the XV’s unique styling and high level of standard equipment, especially in the Premium model, which is surprisingly well priced.
SELLING FAST: Sharp looks set the Subaru XV apart from rivals in the small SUV segment.
FIVE STAR CRUISING:Subaru remains the benchmark in AWD.