Subaru bridges the gap between the Impreza and Forester with the refreshed XV
Photos by Marcus Lim
Offering a high seating position and more imposing presence on the road, there’s little wonder why car-buying consumers the world over are taking an increasing liking toward crossovers. This trend is reflected locally too, with multiple spots in 2017’s bestseller list occupied by crossovers such as the Nissan Qashqai, Honda Vezel and Toyota C-HR trio, along with the bigger Toyota Harrier.
With most crossovers, their rugged looks belie a softer, more road-biased drivetrain which is perfectly suitable for most drivers that prefer car-like handling characteristics with an SUV-like appearance. “But what if I’ve only got $100k to spare and want to do some light off-roading?”, you might ask — well here’s where Subaru has got you covered.
The latest Subaru XV has been completely refreshed and as with its predecessor, is based on the current-generation Impreza hatchback. It sits on the brand new Subaru Global Platform, which is claimed to offer more fun handling by minimising shakes and body roll. The ‘X-mode’ all-wheel drive system (inherited from its bigger brother the Forester) gives it some off-road credentials with an active torque split AWD system at speeds under 40km/h.
This 2.0i-S unit we’ve been handed the keys to features the same 2.0-litre naturally-aspirated engine as the Impreza, offering 155 bhp and 196 Nm of torque while returning a reasonable fuel economy of 14.2 km/L. Acceleration at low speeds is smooth and refined, with a pleasant Boxer thrum when you give it some revs.
Putting the XV through some corners reveals the surefootedness of the chassis, thanks largely to the suspension setup and Subaru Global Platform which allows the car to drive very similarly to the Impreza it was based on.
While sufficient for daily driving, the XV is not what one would call spritely. Only available in Singapore with a CVT transmission, the fun of a well-sorted all-wheel drive setup is dampened by the gearbox — blessing the 2.0-litre lump with a turbocharger would do the chassis and AWD system a lot more favours, we think.
For daily commute, the XV performs excellently with its roomy cabin and solid build quality, along with decent noise insulation even at highway speeds. Safety tech comes in the form of the EyeSight suite of safety and assistance systems — adaptive cruise control, lane sway and departure warning, lead vehicle start alert, pre-collision braking system and pre-collision throttle management.
The XV is also rather well equipped with exterior kit, featuring steering responsive headlights (that turn left or right when you’re going around a corner), 18-inch wheels (shod with 225/55R18 Bridgestone Duelers for some off-road capability) and a nifty little roof spoiler to finish it off. During the day, we parked it next to the first-generation XV — the new model’s more aggressive look was immediately apparent.
All things considered, the XV does pose an excellent value proposition with a sub-S$100k price tag (S$99,800 with COE, as of May 2018). Despite its slightly higher fuel consumption and higher road tax, the XV 2.0-litre still stands as one of the best buys for anyone looking for a 4-wheel drive crossover on a not-so-big budget.