Subaru XV – New style and substance

The first generation of Subaru’s XV has successfully carved out its niche in the small SUV market.

The company believes the new second-generation XV that’s just been released, will grow sales further thanks to its extra style and substance.

Our launch drive of the newcomer over some great roads between the Snowy Mountains high country and the NSW south coast left us with positive first impressions.

Like the new Impreza released late last year, the latest XV is built on Subaru’s new Global Platform, making it the second Subaru model to use it. It’s the fundamental technology that will continue to underpin Subaru’s next generation models as they are rolled out through to at least 2025.

The new platform means XV has a stronger and significantly more rigid body/chassis structure (between 1.7 to 2 times more rigid than the old model), revised steering and suspension, and new suspension geometry, all contributing to more responsive dynamics, flatter cornering stance, reduced vibration and noise, plus enhanced ride quality. Subaru have also made Active Torque Vectoring standard for more consistent cornering response and stability.

Collision safety has been enhanced in the new XV, with energy absorption capabilities increased 40% over the old model, and greater use of high-strength steels in construction. Like other Subaru models, the XV receives a five-star rating in independent crash testing by ANCAP. Every XV model provides dual front, dual side, curtain and driver’s knee airbags. New XV offers improved levels of safety-focused driver assistance technologies also.

Body styling is refreshed, while dimensionally, the new model has a longer wheelbase (+30mm) and it’s wider (+20mm). Inside, there more cabin width front and rear, hip, shoulder and elbow room all increase, there’s extra rear leg room, a larger cargo bay opening and extra cargo area length (+41mm) and volume (+24 litres).

Build and finish quality has been enhanced and nowhere is that more obvious than inside with a more contemporary and premium look visible. Instrumentation, display screens and infotainment/connectivity have all come in for updating. The entry level 2.0i has a 6.5” central display while the other three grades in the range use an 8” display.

All grades are equipped with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay as standard. Navigation powered by Tom is standard on 2.0i Premium and top specification 2.0i-S. Leather trimmed seats are reserved for the 2.0i-S.

To give the all-wheel-drive XV a bit more off-road skill, Subaru’s X-Mode system that includes hill descent control is now standard. The system improves traction and driveability on poor and slippery surfaces, while the HDC controls the brakes to help limit speed descending steep off-road inclines. A short but testing off-road loop on the drive route showed the HDC’s effectiveness walking the vehicle down a steep gnarly descent at low speeds, even as slow as a steady 3-4km/h. Minimum ground clearance of 220mm is quite impressive for a ‘soft-roader’. That’s noticeably more than many of its major competitors, more than the rugged 4WD Mitsubishi Triton ute, and only 15mm less than a Mitsubishi Pajero.

All XV variants are powered by an improved 2.0-litre direct-injection normally aspirated petrol Boxer engine mated to a new Lineartronic CVT auto. There’s no manual option any longer due to low uptake. The substantially revised engine is more efficient, Euro 6 compliant, and develops 115kW of power at 6000rpm and 196 Nm of torque at 4000rpm. Official combined fuel consumption is 7.0 litres/100km while emitting 159 g/km of CO2.

The CVT transmission has also come in for major updates including weight reduction, use of a shorter pitch drive-chain for significantly quieter transmission operation, and a wider ratio span. Low gear is lower and top gear higher, with seven ratio steps in manual mode for all versions, instead of six in the old model. Stepped ratio shifts for a more natural feel are provided during hard acceleration.

The net effect of the powertrain changes is certainly evident on the road with peppier performance, better drivability and a quieter driving experience notable.

XV 2.0i-L, 2.0i Premium and 2.0i-S feature the latest third-generation EyeSight driver assistance system, that now incorporates Lane Keep Assist. Other system features include adaptive cruise control, brake light recognition, lane departure warning, lane sway warning, lead vehicle start alert, pre-collision braking and brake assist, and pre-collision throttle management.

Reserved for the top-of-the-range 2.0i-S is the Vision Assist suite of safety tech that includes blind spot detection, high beam assist, lane change assist, rear cross-traffic alert, and reverse automatic braking. The last of these uses four sonar sensors in the rear bumper to detect obstructions when reversing, and if there’s a risk of impact, it alerts the driver and if necessary applies the brakes automatically to avoid or reduce the severity of a collision.

Like the new Impreza, capped-price servicing is now scheduled at 12 month or 12,500km intervals (whichever comes first).

List prices start at $27,990, rising to $30,340 for the 2.0i-L, $32,140 for the 2.0i Premium and $35,240 for the 2.0i-S.

Subaru fans should be watching out for facelifted versions of the WRX and STi arriving soon.