Subaru Levorg GT Reviewed

In Car Reviews, Subaru by Tom Scanlan

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It took about 3.8 seconds. ‘Oh yes! This car I really like!’ Yes, as quickly as that…

Tom Scanlan catches up with the Subaru Levorg GT

Subaru’s Levorg GT had somehow escaped my notice, but the Japanese manufacturer of exclusively four-wheel-drive cars (and with fifteen million ‘boxer’ horizontally-opposed-cylinder engines in them in fifty years, they say), recently decided to update their fleet and uprate their media coverage.

So there we were up near Peterborough with a choice of four Subaru models, of which three could be tried both off-road and on road and one, the Levorg GT, was limited to on road only.

Journalists invited to try out new cars often have the benefit of a chat from the PR boss or marketing director. They often like to put across their main message about the particular car being launched. In Subaru’s case this time there were no brand-new cars, so the main thrust was about Subaru engineering expertise –

  1. Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive
  2. Boxer engines
  3. Lineartronic automatic transmission

The claim from Subaru is that the way that these aspects have been designed all adds up to –

  1. Capability, safety and longevity
  2. Reduced vibration and noise along with a low centre of gravity increasing stability when cornering and lesser chance of intrusion into the cabin if in a crash
  3. Continuously variable transmission, said by Subaru to improve drive ability and fuel economy (this CVT system, by the way, is slightly different when partnered to a petrol engine compared to a diesel engine).

Back to the Levorg, then: the car’s 1.6-litre boxer engine develops 170 PS and, probably more significantly, 250 lb/ft of torque from only 1800 rpm, up to 4800 rpm. This allows excellent overtaking; the official zero-to-62 mph is 8.9 seconds, but this makes the car much livelier. The engine does feel smooth as a turbine; but, actually, so these days do plenty of the more conventional in-line engines.

The Lineartronic gearbox, although CVT and therefore without any obvious changes in gear because, well, there aren’t any, surprised me because I thought I could detect just such a gear change, which was weird. But it was smooth and quiet.

After a 45-mile drive, mainly cross country but with quite a few braking and accelerating spells in villages and overtaking buses and lorries, the Levorg’s trip recorder showed a fuel consumption of 29.1 mpg – not too impressive, given the company’s claims that include engineering for economy. The official combined consumption figure is also a touch depressing at 39.8 mpg, while the emissions are 164 gm/km, meaning an annual road tax outlay of £185. The insurance group is 24E.

I would expect the car to achieve better on longer journeys with motorways being the main routes, but, if economy is top of the wish-list, this is perhaps not the car for you.

Either way, I loved it! It was just so nice to drive. The ride and seats made the Levorg really comfortable. And the feel of all the controls, from the steering wheel, to the indicators, the wiper controls and the rest gave confidence that the car was well-constructed. The dashboard and central console looked smart and the leather-trimmed front seats were very comfortable. Everything else was upholstered with a classy-looking fabric.

The Levorg comes with loads of technology on board means owners get a good deal of in-built safety. The car as tested did not have Subaru’s latest ‘EyeSight’ system, but this becomes available in the spring of 2017.

I did get to test EyeSight out, however, in a Subaru Outback. EyeSight has two cameras, in stereo, as it were, like the human eye, located either side of the interior rear-view mirror. As in many other systems, usually using radar in their case, employed by other manufacturers, their purpose is to detect potential crash scenarios looming up and to prevent them by automatically braking the car if the driver and not reacted in time.

Subaru’s claim is that this works at up to 31 mph, apparently impressive compared with the more usual industry claim of around 19 mph. I tested the system twice in a controlled environment provided by Subaru. The car was driven towards a stationary object (a full-size representation on a plastic sheet of another Subaru). I drove at about twenty mph and, as the alarm and red warning lights triggered, my car started to brake before my natural reaction also to brake kicked in. The car stopped inches short.

Now do it without any braking from you, said my instructor in the passenger seat. This time, without any pathetic little last-second input from me, the result was the same: no damage. BUT, my driving colleague then had a go. He accelerated to more than 25 mph, perhaps 30 mph, and our car hit the ‘car’ in front. Therefore, yes, I suppose Subaru’s claim that the system works at up to 31 mph, but not if you are simply too close to the object in front for the laws of physics not to kick in.

EyeSight is, nonetheless, a device will at the very least reduce the severity of an impact. Another clever feature that can prevent an impact lessens the throttle opening should a driver of an automatic for example select drive instead of reverse, or the other way round, and if another car or object is detected to be in line for a bump. This can include bikes, passers-by and so on, as long as we’re talking about things at least about a metre in height.

Levorg the name: sorry, but I wasn’t the only one to see somehow that the word spelt backwards is ‘Grovel’…but we are told that it actually comes from a combination of other Subaru-significant names and words, like Legacy, tourer and revolution…make of that what you will.

Levorg is, says Subaru, in the ‘grand tourer’ category; the one seen in the British Touring Car Championship presumably won’t be equipped with EyeSight as that would slow their drivers down.

The Levorg GT is well priced for a smart, practical, capable, comfortable and highly enjoyable car.

Car reviewed: Subaru Levorg GT 1.6i DIT Lineartronic – On the road £27,495 0-62mph 8.9 secs Top speed 130mph Fuel Economy combined 39.8mpg CO2 emissions 164g/km Engine 1.6-litre Boxer Engine turbocharged Max Power 170PS@4800-5600rpm Torque 250Nm@1800-4800rpm Transmission/Drivetrain Six-speed Lineartronic CVT, Symmetrical AWD with active torque split system

  • Great engineering

  • Well equipped

  • Fun to drive

  • Fuel economy

About the author

Tom Scanlan

'Tom Scanlan has written for a wide variety of magazines and newspapers, particularly the Reading Evening Post for ten years, having got into motoring journalism in 1973 via the somewhat unlikely back door of the British Forces Broadcasting Service. BFBS produced a weekly radio motoring show for the services overseas and Tom produced it, as well as interviewing experts and eventually reporting on cars. He is into classic cars and has owned Porsche, Ferrari, pre-war Alvis and Rileys and currently owns his fifth old Alfa Romeo, a 1984 GTV 2.0. In his spare time, Tom is a professional cricket coach.'

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