Rally gi­ants go fam­ily-friendly with new es­tate

Macclesfield Express - - SEARCH -

EV­ERY­ONE knows Subaru makes fast cars – three world rally ti­tles for its driv­ers and one man­u­fac­tur­ers’ ti­tle tells you that.

It’s been al­most eight years since the com­pany quit the World Rally Cham­pi­onships, but the mem­ory of the late and much lamented Colin McRae and Richard Burns throw­ing that strik­ing blue Im­preza around cour­ses all over the world burns long in the mem­ory.

This week’s test car – the Levorg – shares a plat­form with that best known Subaru model, but ap­pears, on the sur­face at least, to be a much more sen­si­ble choice for the fam­ily.

It’s es­sen­tially a tour­ing es­tate with plenty of room in the back and plenty of punch up front. Com­bine that with Subaru’s stan­dard all-wheel drive, and you have a very ca­pa­ble fam­ily car in­deed.

It has some­thing Subaru’s have per­haps not been noted for in the past, though. Sub­tlety.

The first few times I pulled away from traf­fic lights as they turned green, I glanced in the rear-view mir­ror to see all the other cars that had been stopped with me still a hun­dred or so yards be­hind.

“Why are they not mov­ing?” I thought. Even­tu­ally, I re­alised they were mov­ing. Just not as rapidly as I was.

That ef­fort­less ac­cel­er­a­tion was a fea­ture of the car I en­joyed for the rest of the week – the com­bi­na­tion of power and the smooth auto gear­box meant in­stant re­sponse from the car when I needed it.

From the out­side the car is low-slung and sleek – per­haps only the ag­gres­sive air in­take ris­ing from the bon­net gives any real in­di­ca­tion of what lies within. Un­der that bon­net is a 1.6-litre petrol boxer en­gine – with the four cylin­ders laid flat in pairs op­po­site other.

That en­gine of­fers good per­for­mance, as I say, but at a slight cost econ­o­my­wise – the 39mpg com­bined Subaru claim seemed about right dur­ing the week I had the car.

There are, ob­vi­ously, en­gines that do much bet­ter than that – but it’s easy to for­get, look­ing at the Levorg, that you’re get­ting the four-wheel drive, too. We shouldn’t un­der­es­ti­mate how use­ful that might be as the weather gets colder...

In­side the Levorg of­fers plenty of re­fine­ment and lots of lux­ury touches. Our test car – the GT 1.6i DIT Lineatronic, the only Levorg in the Subaru range – of­fered key­less ac­cess, leather-cov­ered steer­ing wheel, heated seats, dual-zone air-con, and a fab­u­lous six-speaker stereo sys­tem with Blue­tooth con­nec­tiv­ity and a touch-screen con­trol sys­tem.

Safety-wise there are airbags aplenty, brake over­ride (which fo­cuses on break­ing if you ac­ci­den­tally, per­haps in panic, hit both the brake and ac­cel­er­a­tor at the same time), and Subaru’s rear ve­hi­cle de­tec­tion sys­tem (an ad­vanced warn­ing sys­tem which tells you when some­thing’s in your blind-spot).

Then there’s the price, of course. I like sim­plic­ity, and the pric­ing struc­ture in the Levorg range is cer­tainly sim­ple. One model, one price – £27,495 on the road. Rea­son­able, I think, for a car of this qual­ity (and again, don’t for­get its all-wheel drive). But all this, of course, is noth­ing with­out the driv­ing.

And it’s an ab­so­lute plea­sure in that depart­ment – of course it’s fast, and low. But it also feels ab­so­lutely rock solid.

The all-wheel drive doesn’t just bring ben­e­fits in bad weather (al­though it un­doubt­edly does). It al­lows Subaru’s ve­hi­cle dy­nam­ics con­trol sys­tem, which mon­i­tors the driver’s in­tended path and the ac­tual path the car is tak­ing, and man­ages power and break­ing to all four wheels.

This means that in re­spect of the Levorg,

●● The Levorg - un­der­stated, but pack­ing a punch

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