The Oban Times editor Susan Windram puts the Subaru Levorg through its paces
Having driven neither a Subaru nor an automatic before, I came to the road with no real expectations of the Levorg, good or bad.
It is being touted as the successor to the manufacturer’s flagship car, the Legacy, but whether or not it is a worthy successor, we were about to find out.
In terms of looks the Levorg is a fairly handsome beast, with its gaping air intake that you associate with its sport older brother the Impreza and flared arches, however, there's no mistaking it as a large family estate car. In saying that, when you get behind the wheel it really doesn't feel that big, in fact it feels pretty nimble yet firmly planted due to its all-wheel drive (AWD) system, a system the manufacturer has honed and developed over 40 years of world rallying.
Agility and handling are two areas Subaru really focused on when developing the vehicle and those years of experience meant the Levorg was pretty tidy when driving on Argyll’s tight and twisting roads thanks, in part, to the SI- Drive system which provides Intelligent, Sport, and Sport Sharp throttle settings – a toy for those who like to tinker with the car set- up – and partly due to the AWD, which is permanently on and automatically kicks in if traction deteriorates. It particularly comes into its own in the wet, ice and snow.
Power comes from a 1.6 direct injection boxer petrol engine, with the lower centre of gravity and even weight distribution providing better handling. However, while the steering is weighty and accurate, if you’re a little too ambitious entering a corner you will encounter understeer. In saying that, there’s a good amount of grip in wet and dry, the suspension is firm but shrugs bumpy roads off fairly well, and the traction allows for plenty of confidence behind the wheel.
While the Levorg is set up to be driven in automatic mode, you can also shift it into manual and flick through the gears with paddleshifters, or do as I did and keep it in automatic but use the paddleshifters to drop gears if you are planning on overtaking.
Regardless of the mode, progress was pretty smooth and comfortable, if a little unexciting. Having driven a geared car for 30- odd years, I found the lack of engagement my only real issue with the car. The ‘elasticband’ delay you get in an automatic when pushing for more speed was annoying. But that is just down to personal preferance.
When it comes to the interior, the Levorg comes with full leather trim as standard and a generous level of kit. Its dashboard is clean and intuitive, with a neat driver's instrument binnacle. The car’s centre console offers a good seven- inch touch screen infotainment system and sat nav, which is particularly easy to use. The car also comes with LED headlights, heated seats, four USB ports, dual-zone air- conditioning, as well as blind spot monitoring and parking assistance.
The driving position and ride comfort were spot on, and there is good all- round visability. Relatively thin door pillars, a low window line and dashboard all make the Levorg easy to see out of.
Myself and a colleague who also tested the vehicle are both tall and the set up allowed for plenty of leg room that didn’t leave you stretching for the steering wheel. This space is ideal for long road trips, as is the cruise control feature and bluetooth connectivity.
The Levorg also offers plenty of headroom and leg room for passengers, while the boot is ample, with around 1,446 litres capacity and some nifty under floor storage. The rear seats fold down flat effortlessly at the simple push of a button - no faffing about with levers and seatbelts.
Other nice little features are the keyless ignition, the hill holder function and the auto dimming rear view mirror. Build quality is excellent as are the quality finishes. But, and there is a but, where the vehicle is let down is its fuel economy. It only offers around 40mpg, which is disappointing compared to its rivals.
Having never driven an automatic before, I wasn’t expecting to like it, but was pleasantly surprised with the Levorg. It’s a well built, comfortable car, with plenty of space for all your family needs – whether that be holidays or just running the kids to school. It’s also a pleasurable car to drive – both my colleague and I were disappointed at having to revert back to our more humble vehicles!
For what you get, including a decent amount of technology, the Levorg’s price tag offers reasonable value for money. And its rugged and practical set up means it pretty well suited to the west of Scotland lifestyle. Car dealer – would you like a review of your car in The Oban Times? Call 01631 568000 to find out more details.
To make an enquiry and book a test drive, please get in touch with the team online, by phone or in person soon. Call 01436 584342 Or Email helensburgh-subaru.co.uk