When Subaru launched the XV, I thought ‘what have they done now?’. Why is there a need for another do-it-all type vehicle, which is smaller than all the others? I mean really, they already have the superb Forester and the spacious Outback, why now create something that’s half the size of the Forester?
Then I started driving the 2.0CVT model and it just felt so right. I was extremely surprised by the space of the cabin. It’s not often you have the front seats all the way to the back and still you would be able to fit a front row rugby player in the back.
The new XV is powered by Subaru’s all new 2.0 boxer engine which utilises cam chains instead of the older belts that had to be replaced every 100 000km. This means that the new engine in this car, and most likely the Forester and Outback too, should not need the dreaded cambelt replacement, ever. At the heart, is a 110kw boxer 4 cylinder producing, in typical boxer fashion, a smooth linear power band all the way to redline. Sure the XV CVT is not WRX fast, but it’s not supposed to be. The XV is not a track car; it’s a family sports activity vehicle, much like the Juke and Qashqai, both of them lacking the superb symmetrical all-wheel drive.
The XV drives like a car, but has the capability of a SUV. Its high ground clearance of 220mm means it will run through the Cederberg or cruise up Sani Pass without breaking a sweat.
Drop it into Drive and off you go. The CVT gearbox quickly brings rpms up to where the engine starts making peak power and thus you always have power to play with. If you prefer to be more in control, you can always shift manually with the gearshift. The CVT gearbox feels much more like a conventional gearbox when you shift it that way.
The interior of our model was a little up-specced with full leather, soft touch dashboard and a lovely leather multifunction steering wheel. Subaru really has come a long way with the new interiors. It’s a lovely place to be. The XV has a cool little info centre on the dash which will show you overall consumption, trip distance, fuel estimated range and also a nifty little mock-up of where the power is going to the drive train. I really like it!
The sporty 17inch wheels are fitted with 225/55 tires, good enough for venturing off the tar road, but yet has enough rigidity to eliminate tire flex when driving on tar. The ride is sporty yet comfortable and extremely surprising on gravel road. This is where the car really shines and does not stand back for anything. The vehicle stability control will keep things in check, even if you disable it, there is still a guardian looking out for you.
Our vehicle came with a touch screen navigation unit which featured iPod/USB and Bluetooth support. It also had a nifty version of Tom Tom for navigation, which worked well and one of the few navigation units that will actually tell you the true speed you are driving. The overall audio quality was pretty good with decent low, mid and high range. There won’t be a need to upgrade the audio system unless you are a die-hard audiophile.
People have been complaining about the lack of space in the back and I find it pretty ridiculous. Have a look at the space in your average hatchback and you will see that this is pretty much on par with it. Bear in mind that those hatchbacks are all front wheel drive and no provision was made for any running gear at the back of the vehicle when they designed it. Overall, the space was sufficient, even at 310l or 771l with the seats split. If you need more space, you clearly need a true SUV or an MPV.
It’s good to see that Subaru has a smaller sized vehicle that is a worthy option to those with an active lifestyle. I can’t think of any other sport activity vehicle that handles the rough stuff as well as the Subaru. Yes, you can look at a Freelander 2, but you would be spending a whole lot more than R339 000.
Fuel consumption surprised us. At a stage we were doing 6.9l/100km but we settled at 8.8l/100km and we did not drive with any fuel efficiency in mind. The XV also recently won its class in the Total economy run, with a winning figure of 7.9l/100km
The Subaru XV comes standard with a 3 year /100 000km warranty and a 3 year / 75 000km maintenance plan. Service intervals are every 15000km.