Rally giants go family-friendly with new estate
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