The Levorg has finally arrived, adding a GT option to the Subaru line-up. Is it really the successor to the Legacy GT?
It must have involved a few late nights at Subaru’s head office, or just one sake-fuelled bender, to decide to drop the Legacy wagon from the company’s line up. Most of Subaru’s regional offices must have greeted the news with a WTF type of reaction. But in America, Subaru’s largest market, wagons aren’t the done thing. Hence the move to a Legacy sedan and an Outback, Subaru balancing market demands with its relatively minimal production capabilities. But someone in the boardroom clearly wasn’t so impressed with the knifing of the wagon, and brewed up the Levorg. For which we must thank them.
They are calling it the spiritual successor to the Legacy GT wagon, but muddying the conceptual waters are its WRX-based underpinnings while dimensionally it is mentioned in the context of the fourth-generation Legacy from the mid-2000s, ya know, the good looking one before the styling went large and American. Perhaps though, it’s best not to overthink it and view Levorg as a new model; a right-sized wagon with premium aspirations and a GT attitude towards life.
It’s taken a while for Levorg to dock in south seas markets, launching first in Japan before heading off to Europe, and now we finally get it, arriving here as a one-model show, the 2.0 GT-S. It’s loaded up with all the good stuff and lands at $56,990. That puts it smack bang in the middle of the WRX Premium ($54,990) and the Outback 3.6 ($59,990), and there’s the Forester XT there too at $54,900, so plenty of Subaru options around that mark, and yet each manages to plug a different niche.
What Levorg isn’t is a WRX wagon. Though based on all the same fundamentals, Levorg’s suspension tune makes it more of a GT, hence the name we guess. It has Bilstein dampers, though the spring rates are softer, and they are not so concerned with a stern control over dynamics. The Levorg shares the WRX platform and is all but the same forward of the B-pillar. The rear subframe is said to have been beefed up for added rigidity and the sway bar settings are unique too, to give it its own dynamic character. The general ride characteristics are more refined than those of the WRX, particularly town and around, with less of that inherent sportiness that accompanies the progress of the sedan.
It’s supple over the bumps and quieter on road too, especially over coarse chip at 100km/h, extra sound deadening helping, as do skinnier tyres (225 vs the 245s worn by the WRX). There’s always a ying to the suspension yang and Levorg isn’t as locked solid at speed, occasional bumps ruffling up the rear end, making it ‘go light’, though it is generally quick to recover. There’s a degree or two of added roll in bends while the front bump stops can get tickled up occasionally too. The Levorg still has the same interactive nature of the WRX though; there’s a good serving of feedback from the front end letting you push the issue in the bends, and even if you ignore the messages, there’s brake-activated torque vectoring to help out if your hands are more like slabs of ham. Step things back a notch and Levorg eats up miles easily; as it says on the rego label, this is a GT after all.
The Kiwi spec Levorg gets the same 2.0-litre turbo as the WRX with 197kW, and 350Nm of torque is on from 2400-5200rpm. As it does in the Rex, it delivers a good old fashioned turbo rush when you give the gas pedal a nudge, a palpable surge coming on around 2500rpm while the proper thrust is tapped from 4000 to 6000rpm.
Last time we strapped ourselves into a Levorg, its 2.0-litre was running a JDM-spec 221kW and 400Nm tune. We noted it took its time to get up on boost and really cranking. The NZ spec tune gets going earlier, launching in okay fashion from 2500rpm to see it scamper to 100 in 6.2sec, inline with the 221kW version, though the more powerful Levorg proved quicker 80-120 (3.6sec vs 4.1). Still, Levorg is quick enough and on the pace of WRX.
The wagon only comes with two pedals, but it is a GT is it not, and we have no real qualms with Subaru’s CVT. We like its smooth nature on the commute and when cruising. It’s various drive modes are key to extracting its best. Default is I, your best chance of meeting the claimed 8.7L/100km fuel use figure (factor on something between 10 and 13 in reality), but Sport is better for realising the 191kW and 350Nm that you’ve paid for while it isn’t too racy for round town use either. The full Sport Sharp setting, only available once the engine is up to temperature, maximises response from the throttle and it shortens the overall ratio of the CVT too. Some don’t like CVTs as they can lack that feeling of being locked up in-gear like a conventional transmission with fixed ratios. Sports Sharp mode does its best to convey an in-gear type feel, and though there’s still a hint of elasticity to it, it otherwise keeps the engine whipped up so that throttle commands are more quickly obeyed. The only drawback is heady fuel use as the engine is never allowed to simmer in SS mode.
Befitting the nameplate, Levorg is kitted with pretty much everything Subaru has to offer; Eyesight safety with its camera-based active cruise control, autonomous braking and lane departure alert (annoying and best disabled) and there is also blind spot monitoring. There are two parking cameras, one transmitting from the left-hand side mirror to keep an eye on the front wheel and its relationship to the kerb to help keep those alloys scratch free. The rear camera is in lieu of parking sensors, which Subaru doesn’t seem to do. The leather trim is accented with blue stitching and the front seats come complete with powered adjustment, memory function and heaters too. Also making the list are an electric park brake, keyless entry, sat nav infotainment and a sunroof, giving it a higher spec fit out than the WRX. A five-star safety rating is also part of the deal.
As we mentioned earlier, we think it a right-sized wagon. As everything gets bigger, Levorg is a good mid-sized offering. If you want heaps of room, you’ll have to go for the Outback, which has masses of space, but certainly Levorg isn’t mean. Entry to the back seat is easy, and it’s comfy thanks to an added recline function, with enough leg room as well. A pair of USB power outlets should keep the mobile devices charged for those Pokemon chasers in the rear. There’s a 60/40 folding function, and while they don’t quite lie flat, the action can be executed remotely via buttons in the boot. We’d probably throw away the cargo cover as the boot floor is set high thanks to the full size spare underneath but otherwise, the load area is long and reasonably wide too.
While people baulk at the name, most like the look. It’s well proportioned with a hint of sportiness, though the big intercooler scoop might put a few off. We reckon with more overtly sporting alloys and some dechroming, it could look right menacing.
Levorg certainly nails the GT brief and is loaded at the price. For those who think the WRX is still a bit hardcore and want a touch more space, it’ll be perfect.
|Model||Subaru Levorg GT-S||Price||$57,990|
|Engine||1998cc, flat 4, T/DI, 197kW/350Nm||Drivetrain||CVT, all-wheel drive|
|Fuel Use||8.7L/100km||C02 Output||201g/km|