20 Jun: Subaru XV

… Subaru XV 2.0i SE Premium Lineartronic Auto …

There is as much to please the ‘old-fart brigade’ as the ‘young brat pack’ with the Subaru XV. It doesn’t have the rorty, sporty appeal of the WRX, but the engine pulses to the same unmistakable, flat four beat, and that is a big attraction in its own right.

Of course it has a touchscreen mounted high up amidships inside the cabin. Apparently that is counted as progress in these enlightened times, but most of the essential, more commonly used controls consists of buttons and dials. And not just any old buttons and dials, they are chunky enough to be stabbed, pulled, pushed and twisted by gloved fingers!

Even the steering wheel buttons are slightly more accessible than the more stylish, plush and flush, ‘swipe’ controls that are becoming a more common feature of executive saloons these days.

‘Chunky’ is perhaps the wrong word to use with regard to the controls as it implies big and clumsy, but that’s not quite the case. The word ‘practical’ is more apt, but lacks the emphasis on the sheer usability of the overall interior, and exterior, design. In the same way the pedals are big enough to be felt by feet wearing boots as well as trainers, while the firm seats are designed to accommodate the well upholstered frame as well as offering support for those of more moderate physical dimensions! And it’s all topped off by a comfortably grippy leather rimmed wheel.

In other words, the interior is fit for purpose, whether that be work, leisure or play.

It’s the same with the exterior. This is functional with plastic around the extremities to protect the paintwork and big wheel arches to contain the muck when off road. And it has big doors for ease of access. For those with knackered knees it sits high enough off the ground to facilitate the ‘turn round and reverse in’ approach to the seating!

Even the engine echoes all those design cues with its guttural flat four, workmanlike note. It’s not quick, taking over 10 seconds to hit 60 mph from rest and topping out at 116 mph, but it offers 196 Nm of torque to help you get out of sticky situations. And that is where the car excels. It combines excellent on-road manners with all the off-road capability of a Defender.

Normally I don’t care for CVT transmissions, but like everything else, they are constantly being improved and the latest Subaru Lineartronic system is the best yet. And if you don’t care for it, you can switch to a ‘manual’ 7 speed mode, but really no-one is going to buy this car for outright performance. Nope, this is a car for going places, whether they be tarred, gravelled, rutted or flooded and making sure you get there safely and fairly comfortably.

Fuel economy is not its strongest point. Subaru claims 43.5 mpg on the Combined cycle, but I struggled to better 37 mpg during a week of mixed terrain use. On that basis, more sensible folks might do better if confining their outings to main roads in areas without hills!

It has a charm and personality lacking in many other silent and soul-less machines, and all the better for it. I loved it.

  • Review Date: June 20, 2018
  • Price
  • Engine
  • Performance
  • Economy
  • CO2 emissions
  • Insurance Group