Into surfing, skiing, camping, cycling or other go-anywhere pursuits?
Then check out the latest Subaru XV.
With all-wheel drive to get you off the beaten track, space for five and an adventurous character, it’s a key factor in Subaru’s 2017 record sales year. And with good reason.
When Subaru introduced its original XV in 2012 it pioneered the small SUV segment and despite increasing competition, the Impreza-based XV has held its own, cementing itself as a leader of the pack.
The second-generation XV sits on a new global platform that will underpin all future Subys and results in a wider, longer model featuring a new suspension layout and increased wheelbase.
Improved off-road ability, a raft of the latest safety technologies and driver aids feature across the four-model line-up.
Its design is edgier than before and the 2017 XV wears new bumpers front and back, a new grille, new lights at both ends and roof rails for added versatility.
Giving it a tough off-road look is the plastic cladding around the lower body that extends over the wheel arches, housing 18-inch alloys.
Best news of all though are the price cuts across the range.
The $27,990 entry 2.0i model is a whopping $1,250 less than its predecessor, the $32,140 mid-spec 2.0i Premium is $600 cheaper and even the top dog 2.0i-S is $300 less at $35,240.
Eight colours make up the XV palette and the test car was immediately dubbed the ‘Jaffa’ due to its bright orange exterior. Depending on the model you get either cloth or leather upholstery with cool looking orange stitching on the dash, doors and seats.
A first for the XV is Subaru’s X-MODE, which when engaged, makes driving on snow, slush and sand a whole lot easier.
X-MODE also automatically employs hill descent control and once the speed is set (up to 40km/h) all you have to do is steer as the power and braking is done automatically. After trying it in the snow in Japan at the launch, it gets the thumbs up.
Safety is a key with the new XV winning the 2016-2017 Grand Prix Award for the highest ever score in the Japan New Car Assessment Program (JNCAP) crash safety tests.
The XV has a five-star ANCAP (Australian) safety rating and its extensive safety features include (for the first time on the XV), Subaru’s EyeSight driver assist system that comes standard on the upper models, along with Vision Assist.
All models have an electronic park brake, traction and stability control, airbags and anti-lock brakes.
The cabin has a refined, plush feel and subject to which model you choose you’ll get either a 6.5-inch or 8-inch infotainment screen that features Apple Carplay Android Auto, voice recognition, Bluetooth phone and music streaming and a stack of apps. A Tom Tom powered sat nav is reserved for the up-spec models as is voice activated air conditioning.
The new XV is also roomy, even in the back, with no complaints from a 1.9m rear-seat passenger on a 600km round trip. There’s also a 350-litre cargo area with the seats up and a cargo blind to hide your belongings.
Although Subaru has extracted a bit more urge from the 2.0-litre normally aspirated Boxer engine which now has 115kW and 196Nm of torque. I’d like to see the XV with more grunt, particularly for overtaking and climbing hills. I can only imagine what a tricky thing it would be with a WRX engine under the bonnet.
Like the engine, only one transmission is available. A Lineartronic Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT) with a seven-speed manual mode and paddles on the steering wheel.
It’s no surprise from behind the wheel the XV feels just like the new Impreza, only with greater ground clearance and excellent visibility.
Overall the Subaru XV ticks all the boxes. It’s well-priced and a crisp on and off-road performer, with excellent body control when cornering. The supple ride takes lumps and bumps in its stride and the addition of X-Mode to its permanent all-wheel drive makes driving on loose slippery surfaces, even for a novice, stress-free.
No wonder it is so popular.
For more information on the Subaru XV range head their website.