The Crosstrek is the name of the new compact SUV from Subaru. If you think it looks familiar, you’re not wrong, for it’s the new XV in all but name. So is it still a good thing?
What was once known as the XV is now the Crosstrek and while this Subaru has a new name, it’s all very familiar. Think of Crosstrek as a thoroughly revised XV, a case of improving lots of little things without ruining the successful recipe.
Sometimes it’s best to get the not-so-good news out of the way up front and this concerns pricing. While XV was a car that once occupied the mid-thirties to low-forties price bracket, the Crosstrek now nudges into the $50k region, the model range spanning $47k – $52k.
And with the new CCD fee regime, there are extras to pay to the Government coffers of between $1380 and $2530, even though one of the models is a hybrid.
What we have here is the non-electrified 2.0 Premium, selling for $48,990 (plus ORCs and the aforementioned $2530 fee) as the hybrids (in both $47k ‘entry level’ spec and $52k Premium) haven’t yet arrived.
Premium in name and nature?
As the name suggests, Subaru hasn’t left much off the spec list, ramming plenty into the small hatch (sorry, SUV). New for the car is the firm’s big 11.6-inch vertical infotainment touchscreen that helps tidy up the dash by removing many (but not all) of the old buttons and knobs.
There’s still a few for the vital functions, while the larger screen also incorporates the info that used to be carried in the small display atop the dash, and the X-mode selector.
The larger screen gives each function a bit more space and the large touch points are appreciated. Oddly the view for the surround view camera is a bit mean and it’s not quite as seamless a view as others provide. However, you can bring it online quickly thanks to a hard button and then cycle easily between the different perspectives.
While the Crosstrek’s 220mm of ground clearance helps it go further off-road, the main benefit for 99 per cent of buyers is a slightly easier exit and entry as it also facilitates a higher seating position. The seat itself has been redesigned and is right comfy with generous cushioning and just the right amount of bolstering to keep you in place.
The way it’s mounted more rigidly to the floor is said to improve overall ride comfort for front passengers too. Coupled with good adjustment, a sound outward view (although the mirrors seem smaller now), and heating elements under the buns, it’s a welcoming first impression.
Other items you’ll find inside include a wireless charge pad, USB-C connections, a smart key, wireless Apple CarPlay and AA, leather trim, sat nav, sunroof and an upgraded sound system. Admirers of analog dials will like the Crosstrek’s instrument binnacle, but they seem quaint now, especially in a $50k machine.
The cabin touch points are sorted however, soft in all the right places and durable where needs be. And there are plenty of practical storage spots.
There’s an abundance of safety kit too, the updated Eyesight crash mitigation system coming with a long list of functions, including traffic sign recognition while there are nine airbags if things go badly. It’s all nice to have although the lane keeping assistant is very thorough, and the driver monitoring system doesn’t let up.
The collision warning system also gives off too many alerts, even when tuned to its least sensitive setting. But when the adaptive cruise control is working with the lane keeping function, it helps with the more mundane driving tasks, like filtering through traffic and churning down the motorway.
Still a good drive
They haven’t messed too much with the mechanical formula but they’ve tinkered away on most aspects of it. The Crosstrek rides on a strengthened version of the Subaru Global Platform while a few suspension changes, including retuned springs and dampers, help deliver a smooth ride at all speeds and over all sorts of NZ roads.
It has an affable chassis balance which helps Crosstrek flow through the bends, the rear end with a bit of life to it too. With ample travel and properly sorted damping, the suspension manages to smooth most nasty lumps, with just the odd bump from the rear end. And yet it’s not overly rolly in the turns, the body movements well controlled.
The steering is lighter in this new model, the weighting wonderfully consistent but no less connected thanks to a new dual pinion set-up (there are two input shafts on to the rack which separates the actual steering input from the driver and the effect/resistance of the electric motor).
It’s smooth and easy round town, though is a slave to the lane keeping feature on highway roads. But once unshackled from this master it feels better, turning the front end obediently into the bends.
The AWD is of the permanent variety, drive always flowing to all four wheels with a usual torque split of 60/40 front to rear, though the centre diff can alter that in tricky situations. Coupled with well calibrated electronic dynamic aids, this can cover ground rather confidently.
It goes well over gravel roads too, quiet and smooth here, while the stability is excellent, so too the help from the electronics, only activating when necessary. And then there’s the X-mode which sets up the AWD and traction control to tackle slippery terrains at speeds below 40km/h.
Boxer with enough punch?
The 2.0-litre direct injection engine returns with the same 115kW and 196Nm as before but with a few updates, such as enhanced mounting points and increased engine block rigidity which contribute to a more refined performance.
Along with extra cabin sound deadening, particularly in the roof, it’s a smooth and hushed traveller.
The CVT returns too, reworked with a broader overall ratio. It’s ‘lower geared’ for improved take offs, while it’ll stretch itself out further when cruising. It also has paddle shifters to help access eight programmed steps on the belt.
In general ramblings, this goes okay with a decent launch feel for a CVT, engaging positively and quickly, and it’s always smooth. There’s enough everyday torque in the 1000-3500rpm zone but don’t expect to accelerate with any real gusto; without a turbo or electric help, it can feel stretched pushing 1500kg of Crosstrek.
According to the Rightcar website, it’s good for 8.0L/100km, though we saw an overall figure of 10L/100km.
Going for an overtake on the highway, you’ll need to stretch it out past 5000rpm, while giving the paddles a bit of a flap encourages the CVT to shorten the ratio more rapidly than merely pressing hard on the throttle.
Best engine response is accessed by pressing the S mode button on the steering wheel, which sharpens the throttle, quickening access to the torque. It also helps in the twisty bits, the transmission keeping the ratio shorter to improve response.
Being a compact SUV, it’s not quite ‘family-sized’, so go for the Forester if you need extra room. It’s better suited for those whose dependents are now less dependent but they will still fit in the back when they need the occasional lift.
The sizeable transmission tunnel robs leg room for the middle passenger, so two fit better, where they have just enough leg room. The boot isn’t particularly spacious as there’s a spare wheel underneath the floor, robbing a bit of room. The rear seat flops down easily, though the load space isn’t quite flat. CT’s tailgate is quick and easy to open, as it’s not powered.
Exterior styling is familiar but most bits have been altered; the bumpers, grille, guards, lights (now with LED tech and a cornering function) all titivated and there’s a better serving of plastic cladding too.
Anything else to consider?
Check out our report of the Focus Active this month, which is cheaper and more efficient, but not as premium, capable or quite as refined either.
And there’s also the hybrid Crosstrek which we’d be keen to try with its added low end torque from the electrics and promise of better economy.
We like how you can forgo a few of the niceties of the Premium and get the hybrid at a cheaper price. It could well be the Crosstrek pick.
|Subaru Crosstrek 2.0 Premium
|Clean Car Discount
|Fee – $2530
|1995cc, Flat 4, DI
|CVT / AWD
|ABS, ESP, TV
|AEB, ACC, BSM, LDW,
RCTA, ALK, AHB
|650kg (1400kg braked)
|Not yet rated