“NOW! GO HARD! HARD! HARD!” yelled my instructor. At the launch of the All New Subaru XV
Tom Scanlan was on an old, very wet airfield runway, behind the wheel of the latest All New Subaru XV.
This is their compact crossover SUV, in its brand-new state, and surprisingly-improved when setting against its already-capable outgoing version.
I was taking part in a ‘four-mission’ launch day in which the new XVs demonstrated their capabilities in dynamic safe handling, their ‘Eyesight’ Safety feature, their genuine off-road prowess and their comfort and performance on ordinary roads.
So, stage one, the slalom and emergency braking...and amazing to re-discover what the Subaru XV can do to manage extreme situations. So my instructor was making sure that the situations were extreme. And, the next day, stiffness in my back underlined how much extra muscle had been used in just steering the car (hands at 3 o’clock, not 10 to 2, and none of that push/pull stuff) around and between the coned-off routes.
The ‘Eyesight’ System uses cameras in stereo and is sophisticated enough to recognise pretty well every sort of object that might unfortunately suddenly get into the car’s path. The test involved driving at up to around twenty miles an hour towards a banner representing a car that you had not spotted in front of you. Unintuitively, I had to leave my feet where they were and not brake...and, sure enough, the XV stopped without contact.
Next came a hopelessly muddy off-road track through the woods...except it wasn’t hopeless because the car, even on ordinary road tyres, got me through against all the odds. Most of we motoring hacks have done a fair bit of off-roading over the years, as manufacturers show off their car’s’ capabilities, but this test was at least as slippery severe as any that I have experienced. My second instructor had to ‘instruct’ me, also in a very blatant voice, on a couple of occasions, but we made it without ever stopping.
Any Subaru XV owner who has to traverse one of those muddy car parks in a field can be sure the car will get through. The question of course is, will the car in front and the car in front of that...those that don’t have Subaru’s Permanent Symmetrical All-Wheel-Drive.
Most often, of course, the car will be on tarmac. Here the XV proved to be a pleasant place to be; the interior, designed with plenty of curves and eliminating straight lines and hard edges, gives an immediate sense of comfort, but it is no illusion: the XV is indeed a comfortable car. To drive, it is smooth, easy-to-use and secure-feeling. If you are in a hurry, the car transforms from a soft toy into a mean machine, but with excellent manners, including its secure road-holding and excellent ABS.
Amongst other safety features, the XV has SRVD (Subaru Rear Vehicle Detection) that’s able to spot oncoming traffic at up to seventy metres either side and warn its driver accordingly. Additional to that, useful assistance when you reverse out of your parking place at the supermarket, or if there is a vehicle in your rear-view blind spot.
Subaru talks a lot about its linear drive-train, with everything from the low-slung boxer engine through to the rear differential being in a straight line. Its advantages, the company claims, include smoothness, strength and safety. As to the latter, the XV has Euro NCAP’s independent crash testing declaring it to be the 2017 best-in-class for small family saloons.
On the road, the 156 PS 2-litre XV showed consumption of 35.5 mpg (official combined 44.1 mpg), driven both gently and quite hard as traffic situations dictated. The gearbox is of the stepped CVT (Continuously Variable Transmission) type; it works alright, just feeling a bit different from separate gears as in other automatics). Acceleration is average at 10.5 seconds to 62 mph.
The XV can also be had with a 1.6-litre engine.
Apart from those old boy-racer Imprezas, Subaru hasn’t had much of a profile. They have only a tiny percentage of the U.K. market and are something of an unknown quantity to the majority of potential buyers. These people don’t know what they’re missing. Subaru has an interesting range of cars, all of which prove to be, I suppose, a very pleasant surprise. And they are reasonably-priced, the All-new Subaru XV starting at £24,995...and five years and 100,000 miles warranty is perhaps the cherry on the cake.
Car reviewed: 2018 All New Subaru XV 2.0i SE Premium Lineartronic Auto - Price as tested £28,495 0-62mph 10.4 secs Top speed 120mph Fuel Economy combined 40.9mpg CO2 emissions 155g/km Engine 1995cc Boxer 4-cylinder EU6 Max Power 156bhp@3600rpm Torque 196Nm@4000rpm Transmission CVT with Manual mode four-wheel drive
Superb off-road and excellent safety systems
Not very popular in the UK
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