FIT FOUR ALL
PEOPLE BUY SUBARUS BECAUSE THEY EXPECT THEM TO BE RUGGED AND DURABLE, BECAUSE THE COMPANY HAS AN ENVIABLE REPUTATION FOR RELIABILITY AND ‘GO ANYWHERE’ SENSIBILITY. OCCASIONALLY, SUBARU COMES UP WITH A CAR THAT’S DESIRABLE TOO, AS IS THE CASE WITH THE NEW
I have yet to encounter a motoring journalist who does not have great respect for the Subaru brand. Sure, they will have strong opinions about the brand, but there is always respect. That’s likely because Subaru just hasn’t produced any entirely horrible cars yet. Certainly not in the last 25 of the 59 years that the brand has been around. Sure, there have been a few questionable cars – the dull-as-dishwater 1.5-litre front-wheel-drive Impreza hatch from the late 2000s comes to mind– but for the most part, Subarus are decent, and highly capable cars.
You don’t have to be a Subaru fan boy to recognise that most Subarus offer an engaging drive, as befits a carmaker with Subaru’s heritage in the World Rally Championship. And, you would likely be surprised if every Subaru didn’t have the ability to surmount challenging road conditions, courtesy of the brand’s distinctive Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive system.
Like its formidable brethren, the Subaru Levorg exhibits all of these characteristics, and more, delivering trademark Subaru driving fun, legendary capability, and new semi-autonomous driver assistance technology dubbed Subaru EyeSight. All wrapped up in a typical Subaru-like shape that is aimed squarely at the needs of the 21st-century motorist.
NEW STYLE OF SCOOBY
Subaru is no stranger to producing estate cars and SUVs. Next to the Impreza four-door B-segment sedan, the Forester and Legacy Outback are some of the key success stories for the brand in South Africa.
With the Levorg that is set to arrive here in early 2018, Subaru has combined the best of what it has to offer, endowing what is ostensibly an Impreza estate, albeit that it is regarded to be the spiritual successor to the Legacy Outback. It isn’t the brand’s first foray into this style of vehicle either. Both the first- and second-generation Impreza was available in a ‘Sports Wagon’ configuration in South Africa, although they were called hatchbacks in other markets. The Sports Wagon offered spicy performance in a practical package, but saw its demise with the introduction of the third-generation hatchback, which never reached quite the same lofty sales heights as its wagon-esque forebear.
Introduced globally in 2014, the Levorg (its name is a portmanteau of three words, LEgacy, reVOlution, touRinG) shares a platform with the Impreza, Legacy and WRX, and is tasked with reviving interest in the Subaru brand among buyers in the SUV and crossover market.
Thanks to a turbocharger and a directinjection set-up, the Levorg generates a massive 197 kW at 5,600 r/min and 350 Nm (between 2,400 and 5,200 r/min) from its 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine. That’s Golf GTI rivalling power right there, and the result on the road is a quick turn of speed, giving you every incentive to squeeze the responsive throttle.
Fortunately, Subaru knows very well how to translate power into performance. Thanks to its trademark Boxer engine, which is positioned lower and is flatter than a conventional power plant, the Levorg is exceptionally well-balanced.
Admittedly, I pushed the Levorg hard on some of the poorer roads that Gauteng has to offer, and the car responded with enthusiasm and steadfastness, always ready to take whatever the road throws at it.
The trademark symmetrical all-wheeldrive system, combined with Subaru’s active torque vectoring programme ensures that torque and braking distribution gets distributed to all four wheels. It takes an awful lot to knock this car off course.
The result? Agile performance, greater control, and a smoother ride, with Subaru’s Lineartronic CVT transmission doing an amicable job of not losing interest under hard acceleration. I found myself using the steering-mounted paddle shifts often enough, but anyone with a less fussy driving style will likely not even bother with using them.
Subaru interiors hardly represent the pinnacle of automotive cabin design, but the Levorg’s leather-trimmed seats wrap you in a cosy embrace, and surfaces are clean and typically fuss-free. Although the dark interior could use more brightwork to liven up the space, a high level of interior build quality is apparent, and justifies Subaru’s traditionally premium price point.
The Starlink Infotainment System provides mobile-phone connectivity, MP3 compatibility, and Internet radio. It is all controlled via a 7” touch screen, which also provides access to Apple CarPlay for iPhone users.
That speaks to another aspect of the Levorg’s character. As well as being an impressive sports tourer, it is a useful family vehicle, with a well-specced interior that combines comfort and functionality to pleasing effect.
Of course, any family car worth its salt provides safety as well as space, and the Subaru Levorg more than delivers.
It features an array of safety features, including Subaru’s EyeSight early collision warning and autonomous braking system and Rear Vehicle Detection (SRVD). The aforementioned monitors your blind spots and provides an audible and visual warning if a collision looks likely.
Along with passive safety features such as airbags and Subaru’s RingShaped Reinforcement Frame to protect occupants, the Levorg does everything right to keep you and your passengers out of harm’s way.
To my mind, there can be no doubt that this vehicle is a significant addition to Subaru’s stable. It takes the company’s experience of building rugged all-wheeldrive cars and wraps it in a well-equipped, comfortable, and convenient overall package. Although pricing is not yet available, the Levorg is likely to be offered with Subaru South Africa’s standard 3-year /100,000 km warranty and 3-year/100,000 km maintenance plan.