SUB­URU LEV­ORG A WIN­NER

THE ONLY THING WRONG WITH IT IS THE NAME

Western Suburbs Weekly - - Drive­way - Bill Buys

THE Lev­org, de­spite its Ne­an­derthal-sound­ing name, is a fresh take on fam­ily trans­port and one of Subaru’s best of­fer­ings in a while.

The Euro-styled sports wagon is an ex­cel­lent blend of prac­ti­cal­ity, com­fort, safety and per­for­mance, and comes in two lev­els of equip­ment: GT and GT-S.

Then there’s an op­tion on the lat­ter for an up­grade to B-Spec.

All have the same 197kW/ 350Nm 2.0litre turbo boxer en­gine, CV trans­mis­sion and AWD, and are priced from $42,990 for the GT to $48,890 for the GT-S.

The B-Spec pack­age for the GTS is an ex­tra $4000.

It’s a hand­some ve­hi­cle with athletic lines and a big bon­net airscoop em­pha­sises the point.

Fact is, the Lev­org is vir­tu­ally a WRX wagon. It uses a stretched ver­sion of the WRX plat­form to give it great cargo space – 522litres with the back seats in place – and spa­cious and com­fort­able ac­com­mo­da­tion for five adults. Fold the back seats and the cargo sec­tion ex­pands to 1446litres on a per­fectly flat floor. That trans­lates to about the same in­te­rior space as a big­gish SUV, but with much bet­ter looks, per­for­mance, safety and drive­abil­ity.

The GT-S is well worth the ex­tra $5900 in that it comes with leather, rather than fab­ric trim, a sun­roof, Bil­stein sus­pen­sion, a sus­pen­sion strut brace, sports seats, pow­ered driver's seat, bet­ter au­dio sys­tem, a big­ger mul­ti­func­tion touch­screen and Siri­com­pat­i­ble voice recog­ni­tion.

In­stru­men­ta­tion is com­pre­hen­sive, and in­cludes a vac­uum gauge and ac­cel­er­a­tor an­gle to make driv­ers more aware of fuel use.

That’s be­cause the Lev­org is OK, but not par­tic­u­larly light on fuel. Of­fi­cial av­er­age con­sump­tion is 8.7litres/100km and we al­most equalled that on a run to Northam. Trav­el­ling at the le­gal limit and a light foot, we re­turned 8.8. But around the metro area it will use circa 9.6.

Stan­dard fea­tures in­clude cli­mate and cruise con­trol, height and reach-ad­justable multi-func­tion steer­ing wheel, re­mote cen­tral lock­ing, key­less en­try and push-but­ton start, auto-on lights and wipers, tinted win­dows, Blue­tooth, USB con­nec­tiv­ity and au­dio stream­ing.

There’s an ex­cel­lent widean­gle re­vers­ing cam­era too.

The mighty pow­er­train can take the Lev­org to 100km/h in 6.6sec­onds and the trans­mis­sion is in­ter­est­ing in of­fer­ing six or eight-speed stepped con­fig­u­ra­tion, de­pend­ing on which steer­ing wheel but­ton you press: In­tel­li­gent, Sport or Sport#.

Each mode has a marked ef­fect, not only on per­for­mance, but also in song.

We liked Sport best. And the ra­tios can be rapidly changed by steer­ing wheel pad­dles.

Safety-wise, there are seven airbags plus all the dy­namic and pas­sive bits, hill-start as­sist (in both di­rec­tions) and Subaru's lat­est 'Eye­sight' tech­nol­ogy, which scans the road ahead to pre­vent whack­ing other traf­fic or er­rant pedes­tri­ans. It also has lane de­par­ture warn­ing, blind-spot de­tec­tion, rear cross-traf­fic alert, and a lit­tle side-view mon­i­tor, use­ful for pre­ci­sion park­ing.

Ver­dict: Joy on wheels. The only thing we didn’t love was its name.

Subaru's Lev­org is big on style, space, com­fort and pep.

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