Dou­ble duty

Com­mute or es­cape in Subaru’s re­newed XV

The Courier-Mail - Motoring - - Front Page - CRAIG DUFF

SOME­TIMES it is not the size of the dog in the fight but the size of the fight in the dog. The Subaru XV ex­em­pli­fies this ap­proach and should en­sure the com­pact SUV sav­ages some of the more pop­u­lar ve­hi­cles in this class.

On pa­per it is un­der­pow­ered com­pared to some of its tur­bocharged ri­vals; in re­al­ity it is only oc­ca­sion­ally found want­ing and for the most part chal­lenges the (com­pa­ra­bly pow­ered) Mazda CX-3 for driving en­gage­ment.

Subaru was one of the pi­o­neers in SUVs and ex­pects the XV to in­ter­est mil­len­ni­als up to 35 who want a fun ur­ban car that can go ad­ven­tur­ing on the week­ends.

All-wheel-drive means the $27,990 start­ing price isn’t as cheap as some of its 2WD ri­vals in the small SUV seg­ment. Con­versely it un­der­cuts most of the AWD op­po­si­tion with the no­table ex­cep­tion of CX-3 at $26,890 be­fore on-road costs.

A quick check of on-road pric­ing shows the most you’ll pay for the en­try model is $32,564 for the 2.0i; $34,968 for the 2.0i-L; $36,840 for the 2.0iP and $40,033 for the 2.0i-S

If I was buy­ing one, I’d start look­ing at the 2.0i-L, given it comes with a bunch more gear in­clud­ing ac­tive driving aids for about $2500 more than the base car.

Subaru Aus­tralia man­ag­ing di­rec­tor Colin Christie is fore­cast­ing 1000 sales a month of the new XV, putting it in the same league as the Im­preza, Forester and Out­back.

Mov­ing to ser­vice in­ter­vals of 12 months/12,500km gives Subaru an­other leg up in the ownership stakes. The cost of ser­vic­ing is still ap­pre­cia­bly higher than Toy­ota RAV4 but Christie says his com­pany and Toy­ota en­joy the high­est cus­tomer re­ten­tion for ser­vic­ing over the first 12 months at about 80 per cent.

“We’re fairly happy with cus­tomer ser­vic­ing,” he says. “You’re never go­ing to get 100 per cent be­cause some buy­ers are ca­pa­ble of ser­vic­ing the car them­selves and some just want to go to their clos­est shop.”

An in­cen­tive for early adopters is a five-year/un­lim­ited kilome­tre war­ranty on XVs or­dered be­fore the end of July.

One of the few ar­gu­ments against the XV is the rel­a­tively small and shal­low 350L cargo space. Fit the moun­tain bikes to the roof rails and it’s much less of an is­sue.


The XV is a con­found­ing ve­hi­cle. Its 220mm ride height should mean it rolls more in the turns and lurches more un­der brak­ing than the 80mm lower Im­preza, with which it shares much of its DNA. The fact is it doesn’t. Like­wise it ap­pears to need more power with the same ur­gency as the na­tional elec­tric­ity net­work. Un­like the grid, the XV doesn’t buckle when the heat is on.

Driv­ers who want to ex­plore the XV’s fun po­ten­tial will oc­ca­sion­ally find it want­ing, typ­i­cally when ac­cel­er­at­ing up­hill af­ter brak­ing for a turn. Un­til the revs climb to­wards the 4000rpm peak torque mark, ac­cel­er­a­tion is av­er­age in these cir­cum­stances. Sim­i­larly, over­tak­ing a truck is a con­sid­ered move rather than a go-for-the-gap ma­noeu­vre.

Keep the mo­men­tum and revs up in the XV and few cars are as en­ter­tain­ing to drive. The steer­ing is bril­liantly di­rect, the han­dling is among the best in the seg­ment and mod­er­ate throt­tle pres­sure avoids most of the CVT drone.

Hit a gravel road and it’s in a class of its own. The rear end will twitch un­der “en­thu­si­as­tic” cor­ner ex­its be­fore be­ing sub­tly reined in by the sta­bil­ity con­trol with­out cut­ting power.

The 63L fuel tank (up from 50L in the Im­preza) gives it a range of about 900km.


If the ur­ban jun­gle is as far afield as you plan to travel, there are cheaper con­veyances that fit the bill. If you plan to ven­ture be­yond that, es­pe­cially on less than ideal sur­faces, the XV has few peers.

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