Subaru XV 2.0 Lineartronic CVT Review in South Africa

Subaru XV

I’ve always thought of Subaru as a Jekyll-and-Hyde car company. On one hand you have sensible and clever vehicles like the Forester and Outback which are driven by a bunch of easy-going outdoor types. On the other, you have the Impreza STI, the WRX and the BRZ which make the right noises, look the part and offer red hot performance. These cars are driven by youngsters who either think they’re professional rally drivers, or want to be extras in the next Fast and The Furious movie.

Subaru XV 2.0 Lineartronic CVT Review by David Taylor

The thing is Subaru doesn’t quite have a vehicle which is in the middle of the road. What if you can blend some performance with the offroad ability Subaru is so well known for? The company claims you can with the Subaru XV crossover.

For starters it looks quite good and it’s rather eye-catching. The Subaru XV attracted a fair bit of attention, mainly from other Subaru owners. The best way to describe the looks is by thinking of it as a hatchback on stilts. I particularly like the black glossy alloy wheels which look sporty.

Lacklustre engine

Sadly that’s where the sportiness ends, as the Subaru XV doesn’t feature the same turbocharged goodness under the bonnet which makes Subaru so unique. This particular engine is still a flat four, but lacks the turbocharger. It’s optimised for economy and to be blunt, doesn’t feel like any Subaru I’ve driven. I was expecting so much, and the lack of sudden urge was disappointing. That said, the 2.0-litre flat four with 110kW and 196Nm is adequate at sea level. Subaru points out that the engine is tuned for economy and it did not disappoint in that department as it went on to record an impressive 7.6L/100km.

Subaru XV is light on fuel

This fuel consumption figure was aided by the CVT (Continual Variable Transmission) which basically keeps the engine to run at its most efficient revolutions per minute. There are paddles behind the steering wheel, but I found it best to just leave the XV to do its own thing. Unlike other CVT gearboxes, the XV’s unit doesn’t whine when pushed hard which is a common complaint.

Well thought out interior

The interior of the Subaru XV is a textbook example in ergonomics. While its design may be simple, everything is where it should be and it feels upmarket. The seating position is good and it feels like you’re higher up than a normal passenger car. There’s also a smart LCD screen which displays real-time driving data such as status of the wheels as well as your usual trip functions. This particular option had satellite navigation and leather seats as options – both of which are worthy of a tick.

Cabin space is good and rear legroom is to be applauded. However the boot suffers and it’s surprising to see a Subaru with such a shallow rear storage area. Other noteworthy features fitted to the Subaru XV are a high quality audio system with iPod and USB, climate control and a reverse camera.

While some have gone on to suggest the Subaru XV is a prime case of selling out by going mainstream, I beg to differ. Yes it’s a hatchback on stilts, but it retains legendary Subaru engineering. It still has that extreme capability factor and is excellent when it comes to offroading.

XV retains Subaru offroad ability

It may lack outright speed, but once you’ve switched from tar to gravel you’ll understand why this vehicle suddenly feels perfect. The same can be said when you’re driving in heavy rain. While most other cars aquaplane all around you, the XV’s all-wheel drive system keeps it glued to the road and the stability is outstanding. The vehicle doesn’t even bat an eyelid when you take it onto a dune.

The all-wheel drive is superb and is aided by the heightened ground clearance. It may not have low-range, but the when the all-wheel drive system cleverly splits the power between the front and rear wheels it feels like you’re unstoppable. It appears to have inherited the same legendary offroad ability from its Forester and Outback siblings.

Subaru XV - Conclusion

This is a good car which happens to very capable on all terrain types. Be it sand, gravel or tar the Subaru XV will stay glued to the road, and it gets both thumbs up from me when it comes to how it drives. What it won’t do is please the Subaru purist crowd. They’ll see it as a slow wannabe, which I think is doing th Subaru XV a bit of a disservice. Personally I don’t think they’re the target market anyway and the XV will do exactly what Subaru want, which is bring a new market to the brand. This market will see the Subaru XV for what it is – a stylish, economical, reliable and competent light offroader

View the new Subaru XV

Subaru XV CVT Price

Subaru XV 2.0 Lineartronic CVT - R345 000 (Manual: R299 000)
  • Why you should: Great off-roader, amazing fuel consumption, cool interior, looks good.
  • Why you shouldn’t: Not the fastest Subaru, boot is a little on small side.
  • It would be better if: A diesel engine and a bit more pace please.
  • Competitors worth checking out:Nissan Qashqai,Suzuki SX4