Weekend Courier - - Driveway - Bill Buys

THE XV in Subaru's lit­tle SUV is not the Ro­man nu­meral for 15.

Rather it's sup­posed to sug­gest a cross­over ve­hi­cle but it re­ally should be Xcel­lent Ve­hi­cle, be­cause it's got so much go­ing for it.

There are four in the XV sta­ble, with not much be­tween the $28,000 base and $35,000 flag­ship, which is a re­fresh­ing change from some brands where a price leap re­sem­bling a mo­bile phone num­ber of­ten ap­plies for the bot­tom to top of the range.

The XV still looks a lot like the orig­i­nal of a few years ago, and it's prob­a­bly the big­gest in the 'small' mar­ket seg­ment and me­thinks it has the tallest ground clear­ance.

We had a spell in the base model and sec­ond from top Pre­mium, and with not much of a price gap be­tween them, it's largely a case of the buyer's per­son­al­ity.

If you like driv­ing and be­ing in con­trol, the base is prob­a­bly best. But the Pre­mium – and the other two above the base – come with vary­ing de­grees of elec­tron­ica that do much of the driv­ing, warn­ing and eva­sive ac­tion for the notso-com­mit­ted mo­torist of to­day.

All have the same 115kW/ 196Nm 2.0litre boxer en­gine and 7-step CVT all-wheel drive, and they're built on Subaru’s all-new global plat­form, which is more rigid, less prone to vi­bra­tion and min­imises body roll.

There's no diesel or man­ual shift avail­able.

As for equip­ment, the 2.0i comes with key­less en­try, a 6.5inch touch­screen with Ap­ple CarPlay and An­droid Auto, a 6.3inch multi-func­tion dis­play, Blue­tooth con­nec­tiv­ity, a six-speaker sound sys­tem with AM/FM ra­dio, CD player, cruise and cli­mate con­trol, en­gine stop-start sys­tem, 'XMode' trac­tion, re­vers­ing cam­era, elec­tric park­ing brake, tinted rear glass, rear spoiler, 17-inch al­loy wheels, two 12-volt power jacks, hill start as­sist, two USB ports, push-but­ton ig­ni­tion, cloth seats and halo­gen head­lights. Not bad for a 'base' model. The oth­ers all have the im­pres­sive 'EyeSight' safety sys­tem, which in­cludes au­ton­o­mous emer­gency brak­ing pre­ceded by warn­ing shrieks if it spots any­thing too close in front or ap­proach­ing from the side, a big­ger touch­screen, leather seats, al­loy ped­als, LED head­lights and day­time run­ning lights, power driver's seat, 18-inch al­loy wheels, and more leather and shiny bits.

The XV now has a longer wheel­base and it's a tad wider, and clever pack­ag­ing has given it more pas­sen­ger and cargo room.

The en­gine is 5kW up in power and runs along eas­ily and with com­mend­able fuel econ­omy. We ended up with 7.6litres/100km after a mix of city, sub­ur­ban and coun­try driv­ing.

The car has good road man­ners, im­proved sound iso­la­tion, good com­fort and vis­i­bil­ity lev­els and we liked the colours.

All XVs are well fin­ished and now come with ex­tended ser­vice in­ter­vals that al­most halve ser­vice costs, and they've ac­tu­ally come down a bit in price.

Im­pres­sive. We'd go for the 2.0i, but Subaru ex­pects about 70 per cent of buy­ers to plump for the higher spec mod­els. Great choice, ei­ther way.

Ver­dict: The XV comes in var­i­ous colours, in­clud­ing Dutch Rac­ing Orange.

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