Commute or escape in Subaru’s renewed XV
SOMETIMES it is not the size of the dog in the fight but the size of the fight in the dog. The Subaru XV exemplifies this approach and should ensure the compact SUV savages some of the more popular vehicles in this class.
On paper it is underpowered compared to some of its turbocharged rivals; in reality it is only occasionally found wanting and for the most part challenges the (comparably powered) Mazda CX-3 for driving engagement.
Subaru was one of the pioneers in SUVs and expects the XV to interest millennials up to 35 who want a fun urban car that can go adventuring on the weekends.
All-wheel-drive means the $27,990 starting price isn’t as cheap as some of its 2WD rivals in the small SUV segment. Conversely it undercuts most of the AWD opposition with the notable exception of CX-3 at $26,890 before on-road costs.
A quick check of on-road pricing shows the most you’ll pay for the entry model is $32,564 for the 2.0i; $34,968 for the 2.0i-L; $36,840 for the 2.0iP and $40,033 for the 2.0i-S
If I was buying one, I’d start looking at the 2.0i-L, given it comes with a bunch more gear including active driving aids for about $2500 more than the base car.
Subaru Australia managing director Colin Christie is forecasting 1000 sales a month of the new XV, putting it in the same league as the Impreza, Forester and Outback.
Moving to service intervals of 12 months/12,500km gives Subaru another leg up in the ownership stakes. The cost of servicing is still appreciably higher than Toyota RAV4 but Christie says his company and Toyota enjoy the highest customer retention for servicing over the first 12 months at about 80 per cent.
“We’re fairly happy with customer servicing,” he says. “You’re never going to get 100 per cent because some buyers are capable of servicing the car themselves and some just want to go to their closest shop.”
An incentive for early adopters is a five-year/unlimited kilometre warranty on XVs ordered before the end of July.
One of the few arguments against the XV is the relatively small and shallow 350L cargo space. Fit the mountain bikes to the roof rails and it’s much less of an issue.
ON THE ROAD
The XV is a confounding vehicle. Its 220mm ride height should mean it rolls more in the turns and lurches more under braking than the 80mm lower Impreza, with which it shares much of its DNA. The fact is it doesn’t. Likewise it appears to need more power with the same urgency as the national electricity network. Unlike the grid, the XV doesn’t buckle when the heat is on.
Drivers who want to explore the XV’s fun potential will occasionally find it wanting, typically when accelerating uphill after braking for a turn. Until the revs climb towards the 4000rpm peak torque mark, acceleration is average in these circumstances. Similarly, overtaking a truck is a considered move rather than a go-for-the-gap manoeuvre.
Keep the momentum and revs up in the XV and few cars are as entertaining to drive. The steering is brilliantly direct, the handling is among the best in the segment and moderate throttle pressure avoids most of the CVT drone.
Hit a gravel road and it’s in a class of its own. The rear end will twitch under “enthusiastic” corner exits before being subtly reined in by the stability control without cutting power.
The 63L fuel tank (up from 50L in the Impreza) gives it a range of about 900km.
If the urban jungle is as far afield as you plan to travel, there are cheaper conveyances that fit the bill. If you plan to venture beyond that, especially on less than ideal surfaces, the XV has few peers.