Revised SUV sits on a new platform as brand aims to give sales a shot in the arm MODEL TESTED: Subaru XV 2.0i SE Premium Lineartronic PRICE: £28,510 ENGINE: 2.0-litre flat-four, 154bhp
SUBARU’S XV has been around for six years now, but it’s fair to say the 4x4 hasn’t exactly been a sales success. The Japanese brand is hoping to address that with this revised version. Priced from £28,510 in top-spec SE Premium guise, can the XV see off the cheaper Mitsubishi and Skoda?
Design & engineering
THE updates to the Subaru aren’t exactly obvious, with minor tweaks to the styling inside and out, some improved interior materials and extra refinement the things you’ll notice at first.
Even though the looks don’t show an obvious evolution, beneath the skin, the XV has moved to the latest Global Platform, which will underpin the brand’s newest models in the future. Yet despite this more advanced engineering underneath, there’s Macpherson strut front suspension and a multi-link rear axle to match the Mitsubishi’s.
As with the Eclipse Cross, the latter is to facilitate four-wheel drive (there’s no two-wheel-drive XV model, unlike with the Mitsubishi), so Subaru’s symmetrical all-wheel-drive system features here.
The XV is always four-wheel drive and can split the torque between the axles depending on how much traction is available. Another traditional Subaru feature is the 2.0-litre flat-four ‘boxer’ engine, which produces a competitive 154bhp, but a less impressive 196Nm of torque. As with the Mitsubishi, it’s linked to a CVT automatic gearbox. Called ‘Lineartronic’ here, it too has artificial ratio steps to simulate the characteristics of a conventional automatic, but reverts to being a CVT when you go to full throttle.
Inside, those material improvements are just noticeable. There’s a higher-quality feel than in the Eclipse Cross, even if the cabin isn’t as spacious. The materials are just as robust, but plusher and more upmarket. It’s still not a design masterpiece or as attractive or premium as the Karoq’s, but it’s not bad.
This extends to the level of kit on offer. Parking sensors aren’t included, but you do get a reversing camera. Subaru’s clever Eyesight safety tech also features, as do adaptive cruise, heated leather seats, keyless entry and go, DAB and, importantly, sat-nav.
ALL three cars are likely to spend most of their time on the road, so comfort and refinement are arguably the most crucial factors here. And the XV shades the Eclipse Cross. Its chassis flows better, without the Mitsubishi’s lumpy damping. It feels smoother over harsher bumps and more rolling surfaces.
The steering is also nicer and more direct, plus the lower XV controls its body better in bends. No crossover is all that great to drive, but the XV delivers some dynamic merits and acceptable refinement. Yet it suffers from the same problems as the CVT Eclipse if you squeeze the throttle to the stop. The revs rise sharply, as does the drone in the cabin.
But even when cruising around, the XV’S CVT transmission isn’t quite as good as the Mitsubishi’s. It stutters more, surging slightly on a constant throttle as the box struggles to cope with your demands; it has more of the old-school ‘rubber band’ elastic feel. Performance in our tests was good, as the XV sprinted from 0-60mph in 8.7 seconds. The two CVT cars weren’t able to record in-gearr figures, but were evenly matched between 30 and 50mph and 50 and 70mph, with decent acceleration.
Off-road performance should be strong in both Japanese models, too, thanks to their foururwheel-drive systems and various modes to boost ability away from the tarmac.
THE XV’S new platform means boot space increases by five litres over its predecessor, to 385 litres. This isn’t as big as the Eclipse Cross or Karoq in their most voluminous configurations, but there’s still a respectable level of space.
That’s true inside the cabin, too, although headroom is marginally tighter than in its rivals. There’s a good level of passenger space in the rear, but carrying five people will be easiest in the Skoda.
The driving position feels less Suv-like than with the Eclipse Cross, which sits you higher up, but visibility in the Subaru is even better than in the Mitsubishi and a match for the Skoda’s.
SUBARU edged ahead of Mitsubishi with a fourth place finish in the makers’ chart of our Driver Power 2017 satisfaction survey, but its dealers didn’t feature because, as with its Japanese rival, it doesn’t have anywhere near as many franchises as Skoda, for example.
Safety tech is great, though; a key factor for any family 4x4. Subaru has developed its own Eyesight system, which uses stereo cameras and provides adaptive cruise, collision warning with autonomous braking, lane keep and blind spot warning and rear cross traffic alert. With seven airbags it matches the Mitsubishi’s full five-star Euro NCAP rating.
IF you’re a private buyer, the XV’S poorer residual values, according to our experts, might be something to think about. It’s expected to retain just 36.3 per cent of its purchase price, which means depreciation of £18,155.
This compares with 42.1 per cent and an impressive 51 per cent for the Mitsubishi and Skoda respectively, meaning depreciation of £16,160 and just £13,935 for the Eclipse Cross and Karoq.
Still, if you’re buying on finance, the drop in value may be less of an issue and the deals (see Through the Range, opposite) may be more important to you.
Rear headroom is slightly tighter than in rivals
Fold back seats, and boot is way behind Karoq’s