SUBARU TAKES A NEW DI­REC­TION WITH THE SLICK NEW XV MODEL

Subaru has made a de­ter­mined play into the crowded small SUV mar­ket with the all-new XV. Paul Con­nolly checks it out

Belfast Telegraph - NI Carfinder - - Front Page - BY PAUL CON­NOLLY

WHAT’S NEW?

This is the first re-de­sign since launch of the orig­i­nal Subaru XV back in 2012. But it’s more than just a re­vamp, the lat­est XV is an all-new ver­sion.

And it shows. Much thought and in­no­va­tion has gone into the XV, and it sends a clear sig­nal about the fu­ture di­rec­tion that many of Subaru’s fu­ture mod­els will go.

This is a premium prod­uct, par­tic­u­larly when ex­pe­ri­enced in 2.0i SE Premium Lin­eartronic guise, which is the model I test-drove courtesy of the folks at East­wood Mo­tors in Lis­burn.

It’s a thor­oughly modern car, well thought-out, roomy, loaded with tech and safety kit, and with a qual­ity cabin.

It’s clear from its range that Subaru will never for­get its niche cus­tomers, like the go-faster bri­gade who fell in love with the Im­preza, or the coun­try dwellers who wanted a ro­bust and depend­able tower.

But what the XV and other re­cent de­vel­op­ments un­der­line is that Subaru is ex­tend­ing its reach be­yond niche au­di­ences and into the main­stream, to­wards fam­i­lies and those with an ac­tive out­doors lifestyle. Much thought has been given to pas­sen­ger safety.

With prod­ucts like the XV, I’ve no doubt this will be suc­cess­ful.

WHAT DOES IT LOOK LIKE?

The stance is wide and low; not mus­cu­lar but pur­pose­ful. Black cladding adds a sporty feel without over-bling­ing the car or mak­ing it too rugged.

There are clean lines, ex­tended wheel arches, a lit­tle bit of edge; but also a fam­ily-friendly feel.

There is a uni­fied feel from the de­sign as it flows from the grille through to the rear, with the side pro­file en­hanced with a char­ac­ter line run­ning from front wheel arch to rear shoul­der.

UNDER THE BON­NET

To go with the sportier ap­pear­ance, Subaru is of­fer­ing two petrol en­gines: a 1.6-litre and a 2.0-litre. In com­pany tra­di­tion these are in Boxer or flat style (it’s to do with the lay­out of the cylin­ders).

Subaru says 80% of the parts on the 2.0-litre Direct In­jec­tion en­gine have been re­vamped com­pared to pre­vi­ous nat­u­rally as­pi­rated en­gines.

The im­proved Lin­eartronic is lighter and more fru­gal, de­ploy­ing a full auto-step shift con­trol, and a 7-speed mode func­tion.

WHAT’S IT LIKE TO DRIVE?

My 2.0-litre model drove smoothly and re­spon­sively, ac­cel­er­ated ap­pro­pri­ately and con­tained lit­tle of the ex­ter­nal noise that some­times ac­com­pa­nies 4x4s.

The sus­pen­sion is how I like it: firm, but not hard. In cor­ners it’s re­spon­sive and not prone to lean­ing or un­der­steer.

Con­cen­trate hard and you’ll no­tice the sys­tem feed­ing power to each wheel when re­quired (I must have been one of the few adults ac­tu­ally want­ing the snow last week, so I could test its abil­ity prop­erly us­ing fea­tures like X-mode and Hill De­scent Con­trol).

HOW SAFE IT IS?

Subaru is boast­ing that the XV has won a clutch of safety awards, and is one of the safest cars in the mar­ket.

It achieved the best scores in the Euro NCAP Small Fam­ily Car class for three of the four assess­ment ar­eas (Adult Oc­cu­pant, Child Oc­cu­pant, Pedes­trian Pro­tec­tion) and an out­stand­ing per­for­mance of the Au­ton­o­mous Emer­gency Brak­ing (AEB) and Lane Sup­port Systems in the Safety As­sist area.

There are seven airbags, in­clud­ing a driver’s knee airbag, and since it’s built on Subaru’s new global plat­form, the XV takes ad­van­tage of a whole host of the com­pany’s lat­est safety in­no­va­tions.

Top of these is the driver as­sis­tance sys­tem, Eye­sight, also seen on the Subaru Out­back.

This uses two cam­eras to cap­ture 3D im­ages of the road ahead, which, com­bined with a range of sen­sors, al­lows the car at cer­tain speeds, to au­to­mat­i­cally ap­ply the brakes in the event of an ac­ci­dent.

There are a host of other fea­tures, in­clud­ing Rear Ve­hi­cle De­tec­tion, the best blind spot warn­ing as­sist I’ve seen in any car, and an ef­fec­tive yet un­ob­tru­sive Lane De­par­ture Warn­ing which did not make me want to de-ac­ti­vate the way many oth­ers have.

WHAT’S THE CABIN LIKE?

Classy, it has to be said; a real sign of both Subaru’s cur­rent abil­ity and fu­ture in­ten­tions. My model had sump­tu­ous stitched leather on the seats and dash. The likes of Audi should be look­ing to their lau­rels.

The use of soft-touch plas­tics and bet­ter qual­ity ma­te­rial ev­ery­where has raised the game against the old XV.

The cabin is also spa­cious, with good rear legroom, a de­cent sized boot, fold-flat rear seats, and a pre­pon­der­ance of cubby holes for par­ents and kids to store their kit.

The dash­board is modern and cock­pit-like, with a so­phis­ti­cated eight-inch touch­screen which yields many func­tions in­clud­ing Ap­ple Carplay, An­droid Auto and DAB ra­dio.

There’s also a 4.3-inch dash­board dis­play above and back from the touch­screen that de­liv­ers a wealth of driver information in­clud­ing stuff that’s im­por­tant off-road like wheel align­ment and where the all-wheel power is be­ing di­rected.

TRIM AND PRICES

Trim lev­els match the 1.6 and 2.0 en­gines, as you’d ex­pect, with Lin­eartronic and Premium Lin­eartronic.

Which means the line-up is: en­try-level 1.6i SE Lin­eartronic (£24,995 on the road), 1.6i SE Premium Lin­eartronic (£26,995), 2.0i SE Lin­eartronic (£26,495) and the range-top­ping 2.0i SE Premium Lin­eartronic (£28,495).

The cars come very well equipped, with even the en­try level model in­clud­ing Eye­sight, 17-inch al­loys, rear ve­hi­cle de­tec­tion, hill de­scent, X-mode, key­less en­try sys­tem and that eight-inch in­fo­tain­ment sys­tem.

VER­DICT

Subaru is mov­ing in an ex­cit­ing new di­rec­tion, which will see it pro­duce more qual­ity, ca­pa­ble cars like the XV, which is very much an im­prove­ment over the out­go­ing model.

They will surely bring niche cus­tomers along with them on this jour­ney with spe­cial mod­els, but I would ex­pect an increasing suite of main­stream cars that will chal­lenge the might of the main­stream qual­ity Ger­man man­u­fac­tur­ers like VW and Audi.

The XV is a very con­fi­dent play in a crowded mar­ket; and it’s an ac­com­plished ve­hi­cle at its price point. The Subaru XV is avail­able from East­wood Mo­tors, 197 Moira Road, Lis­burn (www.east­wood­mo­tors.com) and from all other Subaru deal­ers.

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