Cruiser for choosers

Subaru pitches the “WRX wagon” at peo­ple who shun SUVs. Good call

The Courier-Mail - Motoring - - Road Test - BILL McKIN­NON

AS A rule, “wagon” and “ex­cite­ment” should never oc­cur in the same sen­tence. Here goes: Subaru’s Levorg wagon de­liv­ers ev­ery­day prac­ti­cal­ity and, thanks to its WRX genes, plenty of ex­cite­ment as well.

Subaru is pitch­ing the Levorg at buy­ers it iden­ti­fies as “SUV re­jec­tors”, a pretty rare breed these days. If any sedan­based fam­ily freighter is go­ing to tempt them away from mid­size SUVs, it’s this one.

DE­SIGN

It’s ba­si­cally a WRX from nose to the rear axle, with a wag­on­style boot grafted on be­hind.

The Levorg’s boot has 100L greater vol­ume than the cur­rent Forester. It’s a sim­ple, ver­sa­tile de­sign, with a low, wide, easy-to-load floor and a 60-40 split-fold­ing rear seat back that flips down at the flick of a switch (on ei­ther side of the boot open­ing) to give you a flat, 1.8m-long load space.

You also get a cou­ple of bag hooks and a load cover but no 12V out­let or power tail­gate.

The WRX’s 197kW 2.0-litre boxer turbo does the hon­ours in the Levorg, matched ex­clu­sively with a con­stantly vari­able trans­mis­sion.

The range opens at $42,990 for the 2.0GT — $2000 more than the WRX sedan — then come the 2.0GT-S at $48,890 and the 2.0GT-S Spec B, which we’re test­ing, at $52,890.

If you want the com­plete per­for­mance wagon pack­age, the ex­tra $5900 for the GT-S is money well spent. Bil­stein struts, as used in the WRX STi, and stiff springs im­prove han­dling sig­nif­i­cantly over the softer GT

In the GT-S, you also get a prop­erly sup­port­ive, power ad­justable sports driver’s seat up­hol­stered in leather, blue trim stitch­ing and ad­di­tional safety fea­tures such as blind spot de­tec­tion and rear cross traf­fic alert. Also stan­dard are sat­nav, sun­roof and kerb view cam­era.

Apart from a brace be­tween the front strut tow­ers, GT-S Spec B is largely an STi body bling ex­er­cise.

Our test car’s Pure Red paint, with dark glass and trim and gloss black 18-inch al­loy wheels combo, and its sorta-kinda slammed, road hug­ging stance, give it a de­li­cious ex­tra dose of killer. Nine STi badges adorn the ex­te­rior.

Look at me? Oh yeah.

AROUND TOWN

One of the sporti­est wag­ons around, the Levorg is also a very live­able daily driver.

The WRX en­gine is ex­cep­tion­ally smooth for a four and de­liv­ers an ef­fort­less, whooshka shove when you ask. Some turbo lag is ev­i­dent off the line, es­pe­cially in fuel-sav­ing In­tel­li­gent mode where it also pulls min­i­mum revs.

Subaru has the CVT well­sorted and with the 2.0-litre it’s a seam­less, ef­fi­cient com­bi­na­tion that doesn’t com­pro­mise per­for­mance. It’s not what you would call fru­gal, though. Ex­pect 12-14L/100km in town, on pre­mium fuel.

The lat­est ver­sion of Subaru’s Eye­Sight driver as­sis­tance in the Levorg ac­ti­vates au­to­matic emer­gency brak­ing when it de­tects a pedes­trian or mo­tor­cy­cle. Its over-ex­citable lane de­par­ture warn­ing, though, drives you nuts in the city — I turned it off.

As with the Forester tested a few weeks ago, the Levorg’s Eye­Sight cam­eras were tem­po­rar­ily blinded when driv­ing into low, di­rect sun.

The GT-S’s kerb­side cam­era is use­ful when par­al­lel park­ing but the Spec B’s low front spoiler is vul­ner­a­ble to dam­age.

Rear seat space is rea­son­able and two adults can travel

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