Subaru Levorg

Solid feel, ex­cel­lent grip

Geraldton Guardian - - Rev - Ewan Kennedy

Subaru Levorg is a sports wagon that has been on sale in Ja­pan since June 2014.

It was orig­i­nally in­tended as a Ja­panese-only spe­cial­ity model, but re­ceived such glow­ing re­ports by Subaru en­thu­si­asts who vis­ited Ja­pan and pub­lished in­for­ma­tion on­line that the de­ci­sion was made for Levorg to go global.

Late last year, we trav­elled to Ja­pan as guests of Subaru Aus­tralia to at­tend tech­ni­cal pre­sen­ta­tions and test drives on a closed road course of the Levorg in the moun­tains around Isu City.

Now the Levorg is fi­nally in Aus­tralia and af­ter our first drives here, we have again come up with pos­i­tive im­pres­sions.

So im­por­tant is the Aus­tralian mar­ket to Subaru that Levorg chief en­gi­neer Hiep Bui and project man­ager Ya­sunori Ku­ma­gai both flew from Ja­pan to spend time with the Aus­tralian mo­tor­ing me­dia at the event.

The name Levorg is an amal­ga­ma­tion of Legacy and Evo­lu­tion.

Subaru en­thu­si­asts will be aware that the Legacy is sold in Aus­tralia as the Lib­erty.

Levorg shares quite a few WRX STi com­po­nents, mostly from the B-pil­lar for­wards, in­clud­ing the red-hot boxer turbo en­gine.

Details about the en­gine later. Al­though it is pos­si­ble to re­fer to the Subaru Levorg as a WRX sta­tion wagon, it is aimed at quite a dif­fer­ent mar­ket, that of high-per­for­mance wag­ons of­fered by the big-name Ger­man mar­ques.

Thus the Levorg com­bines so­phis­ti­ca­tion, dy­namic abil­ity and style, rather than be­ing sim­ply a hotrod.

The Subaru Levorg can also be re­garded as a lat­ter-day ver­sion of the much missed Subaru Lib­erty RS wagon (and sedan) of the 1990s.

Styling is ex­cel­lent, ar­guably one of the best-shaped Subarus yet, to my way of think­ing.

It has a sport­ing grille, pumped guards and a sleek rear end with a busi­ness-like tail.

In­side, the so­phis­ti­cated look con­tin­ues, with sports seats that pro­vide good sup­port while still mak­ing ingress and egress easy.

Levorg uses the lat­est-gen­er­a­tion Subaru in­fo­tain­ment sys­tem. It is one of the eas­i­est to use that you will find on any car.

The very clear touch­screen re­quires a min­i­mum of driver inat­ten­tion from the road and works in a log­i­cal man­ner.

Subaru’s Eye­sight safety sys­tem is stan­dard in all Levorgs sold in Aus­tralia. Crash test­ing au­thor­ity ANCAP has given the Levorg the top five-star safety rat­ing.

Power comes from Subaru’s well-re­spected 2.0-litre boxer, di­rect-in­jec­tion, tur­bocharged en­gine.

In Aus­tralian ver­sions, it pro­duces 197kW of power and 350Nm of torque, the lat­ter in an ex­tended range of 2400 to 5200 revs.

A con­tin­u­ously vari­able trans­mis­sion with man­ual over­rides takes torque to all four wheels by way of Subaru’s sym­met­ri­cal all­wheel-drive sys­tem.

En­gine per­for­mance is ex­cel­lent, with a min­i­mum of turbo lag and plenty of torque on tap once that tur­bocharger is spin­ning at its op­ti­mum rate.

Three driv­ing modes are of­fered and Sport# (sport sharp) was gen­er­ally our pre­ferred one, though even in lower set­tings there is plenty of spirit in the Levorg’s feel.

On an ex­tended road trip or­gan­ised by Subaru over some chal­leng­ing in­land roads, the Levorg we tested proved to be highly com­pe­tent.

It had a solid feel, ex­cel­lent grip, pre­cise turn-in and the feed­back through the steer­ing wheel was just right.

We tested the Levorg GT ($42,990) and GTS ($48,890). An Aus­tralia de­vel­oped GTS B-spec, with spe­cial sus­pen­sion mod­i­fi­ca­tions for the sport­ing driver that are in­stalled lo­cally, is of­fered on both mod­els for an ad­di­tional $4000.

In­te­rior space is good with rea­son­able legroom in the back seat, there is good space for chil­dren who have not yet reached the hulk­ing-teen stage.

The wagon’s load area is well shaped and easy to load.

Com­fort re­mained sur­pris­ingly good, con­sid­er­ing the dy­namic na­ture of the sus­pen­sion.

Aus­tralia’s no­to­ri­ous coar­sechip bi­tu­men roads did cre­ate a fair bit of noise, but we have heard con­sid­er­ably worse, of­ten from Ger­man cars of this same class that cost far more than the Levorg.

There is no doubt the Subaru Levorg will make an ex­cel­lent grand tourer in the true mean­ing of the phrase; that it is able to cover big dis­tances in com­fort while pro­vid­ing the driver with plenty of plea­sure.

Leave the pas­sen­gers at home and you can have a full-on fang on your favourite coun­try roads on one of these de­light­ful Sun­day morn­ing drives.

Subaru Aus­tralia chief Nick Se­nior ex­pects to sell only about 200 to 250 Levorgs each year.

Hav­ing just stepped out of the cars, we feel he is be­ing over con­ser­va­tive.

If that is the case and de­mand out­strips sup­ply, a wait­ing list may start to ex­pand. It might be an idea to get in touch with your dealer pretty soon if you are half­way in­ter­ested.

The Subaru Levorg GT is priced at $42,990, GT-S at $48,890 and GT-S Spec B at $52,890. Note that these prices do not in­clude dealer or gov­ern­ment charges.

Pic­ture: Mar­que Mo­tor­ing

The wagon’s load area is well shaped and easy to load.

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