Subaru XV

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

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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.

Driv­ing

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.

Prac­ti­cal­ity

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.

Own­er­ship

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.

Run­ning costs

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

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