Subaru may have become famous for their mad, over-the-top rally cars and street racers, but they have successfully acquired legions of fans for the exact opposite – their practical, no-nonsense station wagons
It has become a firm favourite in the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands, driven by dairy farmers in their moments of leisure when they’re not in need of their white Hiluxes. It’s no mistake that the Pietermaritzburg Subaru dealership is one of the busiest in the country.
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What is it?
The XV lies somewhere in between the madcap Subaru Impreza WRX and the practical Forester, obviously aimed at the burgeoning appeal of soft ‘lifestyle’ SUVs. The XV has been given a trendy, sporty shape, but laced with SUV-ness and obviously aimed at the young go-getter who yearns for a life with longer weekends, and a car to enjoy them in. Think along the lines of a Nissan Qashqai, Jeep Compass or Hyundai iX35.
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What’s it like to drive?
Driving a Subaru has always been fun for two reasons – the symmetrical all-wheel-drive system and the willing Boxer-style engines. The AWD system means that the vehicle handles well even in wet weather or on dirt roads, and I can happily say that the XV lives up to its Subaru heritage in this regard. Ground clearance of 220mm means it is also fairly capable off road, while the ride quality is as good as the road holding, tackling rutted dirt roads with a calm aloofness.
While the two-litre engine in the XV is a smooth and refined Boxer (meaning that the pistons go side to side in the cylinders and not up and down), it isn’t powerful enough for the car. It’s disappointing, but not enough to ruin a good car. It sounds great when you rev it, but then the fuel consumption gets irritating, heading towards 10l/100km when it normally averages closer to eight.
What’s it like inside?
The materials used are very good quality, while the ergonomics and styling are hugely improved. Many features are included in the standard price that would be options on competitors. Interior space is great, until you get to the boot, which is the Achilles’ heel of this stylish vehicle. It’s just too small. There are seven airbags and the expected electronic driving aids, as well as a limited slip differential.
R329 000 is a fair chunk of change but Subarus are famously well-engineered and reliable, which wins the company a large number of repeat buyers. A 3-year/75 000km maintenance plan and 3-year/100 000km warranty are standard.
The XV is a good car, but it falls short in one key area. A lifestyle SUV is used to go away for weekends, but you can’t go away without your luggage – which you will have to because it won’t fit in the boot.
Words Stephen Smith