Subaru XV

Is it an SUV or is it a Cross­over? Damien O’car­roll in­ves­ti­gates.

New Zealand Company Vehicle - - CONTENTS -

With the huge rise in pop­u­lar­ity of SUVS lately, it seems that the def­i­ni­tion of what an SUV ac­tu­ally is has be­come as stretched as the range of ve­hi­cles on of­fer. It has also lead to the birth of the “Cross­over”, oth­er­wise known as a ve­hi­cle that boasts the raised ride height and prac­ti­cal­ity of a tra­di­tional SUV, while also keep­ing one foot (and, to be com­pletely hon­est, some­times both feet) firmly in the car camp by be­ing based on the same plat­form as a tra­di­tional car, as well as be­ing of­fered in 2WD vari­ants. The Subaru XV, at first glance, would ap­pear to be very much in the lat­ter camp, after all it shares an aw­ful lot with the Im­preza hatch, in­clud­ing its plat­form, body shell, en­gine, trans­mis­sion, in­te­rior and, well, ev­ery­thing re­ally. But what sets the XV apart in the small SUV seg­ment is the fact that it is only of­fered in AWD and its mas­sive (well, for its seg­ment, at least) 220mm of ground clear­ance. And while the XV doesn’t have any low ra­tio com­plex­ity, it does get Subaru’s rather ex­cel­lent X-mode off road soft­ware sys­tem. And, let’s face it, Subaru do know how to make car-based SUVS that can ac­tu­ally go off road. Much like when it launched the new Im­preza ear­lier this year, Subaru New Zealand has taken the chain­saw to the XV’S pric­ing, with the Sport com­ing in $3,000 cheaper than the pre­vi­ous car at $34,990, while also adding more equip­ment. The same goes for the Pre­mium, which sees even more equip­ment and a $5,000 re­duc­tion, re­tail­ing for $39,990. Both mod­els of the XV get the same 115kw/196nm 2.0-litre horizontally op­posed four-cylin­der en­gine hooked up to a con­tin­u­ously vari­able trans­mis­sion. The Sport gets 17-inch al­loy wheels as stan­dard, as well as an eight-inch touch screen with Ap­ple Carplay and An­droid Auto, rear pri­vacy glass, key­less en­try and push but­ton start, a rear view cam­era, a tyre pres­sure mon­i­tor­ing sys­tem and Subaru’s Eye­sight driver as­sist sys­tem that brings col­li­sion alert, au­ton­o­mous emer­gency brak­ing, adap­tive cruise con­trol and a new lane-as­sist fea­ture. The Pre­mium adds 18-inch wheels, au­to­matic head­lights, imbed­ded sat-nav, a sun­roof, leather-ac­cented trim, adap­tive LED head­lights and a more ex­ten­sive suite of ac­tive safety fea­tures, in­clud­ing the Vi­sion As­sist pack­age that brings blind-spot warn­ing high­beam as­sist, lane-change as­sist, rear crosstraf­fic alert and rear au­ton­o­mous brak­ing. On the road the XV rather ob­vi­ously feels like the an Im­preza, which means a beau­ti­fully supple and re­spon­sive chas­sis matched up to fan­tas­ti­cally tac­tile and equally re­spon­sive steer­ing. In­te­rior qual­ity makes an­other step up­wards in the XV – some­thing Subaru has been im­prov­ing dras­ti­cally over its lat­est mod­els – mean­ing that the cheap, plas­tics of past are thank­fully long gone. While the XV is in­cred­i­bly well-priced and equipped, and pos­sesses a fan­tas­tic chas­sis and great in­te­rior, there is one slightly glar­ing chink in its oth­er­wise im­pres­sive ar­mour, and that is the con­tin­u­ously vari­able trans­mis­sion. Subaru’s pre­vi­ous CVTS in the likes of the Outback, Le­gacy and Forester were prob­a­bly the best of the bunch in terms of this in­her­ently un­like­able trans­mis­sion, but the Im­preza and new XV seemed to have missed out on Subaru’s best ef­forts in this de­part­ment. As a re­sult the en­gine, which is smooth and ac­cept­ably pow­er­ful around town, suf­fers on the open road, thanks to the trans­mis­sions pref­er­ence to scut­tle up to the red­line and just sit there when you ac­cel­er­ate… While the trans­mis­sion dis­ap­points, the rest of the XV is such a con­vinc­ingly good pack­age that it be­comes eas­ier to over­look this. The Im­preza was Subaru’s first car on its new Subaru Global Plat­form and it was a deeply im­pres­sive steer, and the XV is no dif­fer­ent. Re­spon­sive and ag­ile, the XV’S steer­ing and chas­sis per­for­mance are a de­light to be­hold, while its ride com­fort and in­te­rior qual­ity also im­press. The XV is a car that the term “Cross­over” was in­vented for – you can ar­gue all you like about whether the XV is an SUV or not, but as a Cross­over, the XV makes a star­tlingly com­plete case for it­self. It looks great, rides nicely, is an in­volv­ing steer, is well made and boasts im­pres­sive in­te­rior qual­ity and ac­tu­ally has some off road abil­ity thanks to the 220mm of ground clear­ance (the high­est in its seg­ment) and the X-mode sys­tem.

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