2017 Subaru XV - Impressive XV
Subaru was in early on the small SUV craze - remember the Gravel Express? - and now XV is in its third generation and well placed to harvest the gold in this booming sector.
Some will suggest you should save your money and buy the $30k Impreza, but these are in limited supply, and not quite as ‘now’ as a pseudo-SUV. For an extra $5k, you can bag the XV Sport, or go crazy on the $39,990 XV Premium. Yes, you can get more metal by opting for a base model CR-V or X-Trail, but bigger isn’t always the answer.
If it’s a more compact SUV you’re after, it would be too hard to overlook this new XV. We drove this not long after an encounter with the facelifted Mercedes-Benz GLA, and were left wondering why you’d spend $60k plus on the Merc. This Subaru is simply better.
The interior quality and features offered by XV are superior to the base model GLA, while it’s also a more accomplished, more refined drive. And you only get one star on the badge when you buy a Mercedes, a Subaru has six. Additional to the Sport, Premium adds bigger 18-inch alloys, extra active safety (active lane keeping, blind spot monitoring, high beam assist, reverse auto braking), a sunroof, LED lights, leather, powered and heated front seats and integrated sat nav. And there’s also active cruise and AEB thanks to the forward facing camera system.
To get all that on a GLA you’d need to buy the $80k 250, and still spend more on options. While the look of the new XV is softer than the old car, it’s hugely improved inside. The overall interior quality and finish more than satisfies for the price asked. The infotainment system has a crisp screen resolution, is quick to respond, and operation is eased with a few hard buttons to help navigate the menus.
Like the Impreza, XV feels more substantial on-road than you would expect from a car of this size. The suspension tune delivers smooth progress; sometimes these high riders can be a mite stiff in the spring to quell the roll but this aspect of the XV is swell and it adds to the sense of refinement.
There’s permanent AWD of course and so XV holds on well in bends, the nicely tuned steering guiding it through corners accurately. Adding to its nuanced character, the CVT auto and new four-cylinder boxer make a happy team, well at least once the oils have warmed in the morning. It’s not the raciest combo you’ll come across, but it’s an honest performer.
The CVT takes up smartly when asked, and then stretches itself out on a constant cruise, the engine ticking over at just 1100rpm at 50 to 60km/h to help deliver reasonable economy (8.1L/100km was our overall average, which included the obligatory hooning). And when you punch it along, the CVT is quick to respond, and works the engine harder, its best given in the 3000-5000rpm zone. The seats in all positions are comfy, the rear with good legroom, but the boot is small thanks to a high set floor as XV comes with a full-size spare wheel.
Despite that, XV is worthy of high praise. Don’t be conned by special deals on dross like Captur and ASX; the XV more than justifies its price.
Model Subaru XV Sport Price $34,990
Engine 1995cc, flat 4, DI, 115kW/196Nm
Transmission CVT, all-wheel drive
Vitals 9.83sec 0-100km/h, 7.0L/100km, 159g/km, 1445kg