On a constant high
Looks can be deceptive and in the case of the 2017 XV, here in a couple of weeks, they are. The wagon-styled SUV has a new chassis and revised drivetrain, even though it looks the same and the spec sheet still says 2.0-litre engine paired with a continuously variable transmission. Essentially a high-riding Impreza with some plastic cladding, the XV uses a more powerful and fuel efficient version of the flat-four engine. The CVT has seven preset “gears” in manual mode (a genuine manual isn’t available). All but the base model pick up Subaru’s active driving aids, though only the $35,240 S variant gets blindspot and lane departure warnings and rear cross-traffic assist. Android/Apple phone mirroring is standard across the range. The XV has 220mm of ground clearance, an off-road driving mode and electronic parking brake. Service intervals are 12 months/12,500km and Subaru says service costs over three years have been reduced from $2125 to $1298. As the successor to the LFA supercar, the LC500 assumes the mantle of performance flagship for the prestige Japanese brand. The V8 coupe is said to hit 100km/h in 4.5 seconds and, given only 100 cars have been allocated for Australia, it is expected to sell out fast. The more expensive hybrid LC500h marks Lexus’s first use of a lithium-ion battery pack, giving the car a packaging and power advantage over the nickel-metal hydride batteries used until now. Its petrol V6 (220kW/248Nm) is abetted by electric output of 132kW/ 300Nm. Add $15,000 for the enhancement pack” and bolster the LC with all-wheel steering, variable ratio steering rack, carbon-fibre roof and scuff plates, powered front sports seats and leather upholstery. A limited-slip diff is standard on the LC500 but part of the pack for the 500h. Pricing has yet to be announced but the LC500 is tipped to start about $190,000 before on-roads. The four-door Astra is in dealerships mid-month. Pricing hasn’t been announced but Holden is expected to match its rivals and charge similar pricing for the sedan and hatch versions, translating to a circa $21,490 starting price. Given the hatch is seen as the sportier variant, the sedan may even be marginally cheaper. The Korean-built sedan will sell in three trim levels. Top-spec cars will have forward collision warning and blind-spot alert, though none will have autonomous emergency braking. Its 1.4-litre turbo engine will be paired with a sixspeed manual or an optional six-speed auto in the base LS; higher-spec models will exclusively use the auto. Default gear includes reversing camera, parking sensors, six airbags and Android/Apple phone mirroring. Holden has tweaked the steering, suspension and stability control software to handle local roads and early reports indicate the Astra will comfortably handle most conditions.
Subaru XV, main; Lexus LC 500, below left; Holden Astra