Subaru XV - A Wise Decision

Spending some time in the Subaru XV made me realise the weight that the Subaru name carries. Subaru has become iconic in all vaguely familiar motoring circles for producing absurdly fast and planted all-wheel drive cars with BIG wings. Even my wife told me that. So I showed up in a bright Tangerine Orange Subaru with a raised ride height; roof rails and a cross over design: She was surprised...pleasantly so.

Subaru XV on Ground clearance
Class-leading ground clearance of 220mm

In all seriousness, the Subaru XV shouldn’t surprise anyone if you consider cars like the Forrester; Outback and Tribeca models. The XV is just a very natural progression in the Subaru stable to produce reliable, balanced and versatile cars. The XV is built with their acclaimed Symmetrical AWD system and I say ‘acclaimed’ because I’ve given it the thumbs up. I’ve always enjoyed AWD cars because of how balanced and forgiving they are especially when something goes wrong. The Subaru XV is so composed and seems to self-regulate as conditions of its driver’s idiocy increase.

The car arrived in the blazing Spring sunshine but a few hours later, low and behold, the Johannesburg thunderstorms struck and the rain pelted on and off for 2 days. I was grateful to be in the Subaru as I had never seen so much rain in my life and like all Jo’burgers I had forgotten how to drive in the rain.
I also took the car off the black stuff to test its ability on some gravel and muddy roads and once again, it was so calm. The ride height of this crossover means that even conquering some 300mm depths of orange coloured muddy water was the easiest fun I’ve had. Subaru claim class-leading ground clearance of 220mm which is starting to play in the league’s of some proper SUV’s. Subaru’s legendary Vehicle Dynamics Control (VDC) system is standard with ABS; EBD and BAS.

The cross over concept appeals to those looking for practically and versatility in a more stylish package. The 60/40 Split rear seats allow for easy access and accommodation of the dogs; shopping; mountain bike and wife, although possibly not all at the same time.  The interior is laid out with all the expected technologies and creature comforts including a proper Multimedia system that plays almost all content formats including the now tired CD’s and DVD’s PLUS Bluetooth, iPod Connectivity and SatNav. The multi-function steering wheel allows you to adjust most modes to suit your taste, and houses the cruise control function. The most important interior impression on this car was the leather seats embroidered in orange XV lettering. It’s not the aesthetics that I loved, but the sheer comfort of the seats. I know this seems a simple deal...seats are just seats right? Wrong, of all cars I have driven this year, these were undoubtedly the most comfortable seats I’ve sat in. I was also rather happy with the legroom in the rear of the car. It’s not astounding but certainly more comfortable to sit in the back of the XV than the BMW X1 we featured earlier in the year.

The crown jewel
The 6 speed Subaru XV is fitted with a 2.0 litre Boxer engine that produces 110kW and on paper that may seem fairly standard...which it actually is. The XV doesn’t pack STi performance. Not even close. I was actually a little disappointed with the lack of power from the engine even if you do rev the car excessively. BUT...and it’s a big one – what the engine lacks in straight forward power, it more than makes up for at the pumps. We’ve just had 2 petrol price increases in the past month and that is big consideration for anyone looking to buy a car. This car is the class-leader in fuel consumption in its class, having won the Economy Run in August 2012. We put the car through its paces and still turned up an 8,0l per 100km in the end that Subaru was ‘disappointed’ about. I wasn’t disappointed at all. 

The very frugal 2.0l Subaru XV's powerplant

So the Subaru XV is a flexible cross over vehicle with family-friendly appeal and a roomy, comfortable interior. It’s very capable on the open road or off it, in the most glorious picnic sunshine or the worst Joburg Thunderstorm. It’s very very frugal for a car of this size and weight and just when you think it can’t get any better it hits you with a R329, 000 price tag.

If this car suits your lifestyle right now, I have no counter against it. Yes, the engine is not hair-raising but it will save you in between fill-ups and that’s the trade-off. My wife didn’t like the looks, especially the black wheels but that’s very subjective which is what buying a car is about.