Reviews and opinion 8.11.2017 08:00 am

DRIVEN: Less fun, but not as ugly Subaru XV

Easy to drive, excellent brakes and great consumption – even with a heavy foot.

This writer recently visited a Gentlemen’s Club – strictly in the name of impeccable journalistic research, of course.

When I requested the services of a woman, the lady in charge said: “Come on, old man – get real – you’ve HAD it.” I replied: “Have I? Well, OK then – what do I owe you?” I seem to recall that visits to such establishments used to involve more fun. Like Subarus.

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When I first became aware of Subarus, they were setting the international rally world on fire, with awesome blue and yellow WRX Sti models on golden wheels blasting through special stages, driven by men like Petter Solberg and Tommi Makkinen.

The cars were ugly, sporting massive air scoops front and wings rear – absolute Fast and Furious movie style.

But, they boasted all-wheel drive, endowing them with legendary dirt-road handling prowess.

Also, their turbocharged 2.0-litre Boxer engines sounded awesome, introducing the wastegate whistle to the international motoring psyche. In time, we appreciated them because they were ugly – something like loving a bulldog.

Sadly, Subaru no longer participate in international rallies.

However, they still build vehicles with Boxer engines and all-wheel drive. Like the Subaru XV 2.0i-S ES CVT crossover.

Built on Subaru’s new Global Platform chassis, the vehicle is striking in appearance, boasting the company’s trademark hexagonal grille and hawk-eye headlights, pronounced wheel arches, 18-inch spoked alloy wheels, black bumpers and body cladding, a shark fin antenna, roof spoiler and roof rails.

The XV comes powered by a direct-injection, normally aspirated, 2.0-litre Boxer engine that produces 115kW of power at 6 000rpm and 196Nm of torque at 4 200rpm.

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The grunt and twist goes to all four wheels via Subaru’s automatic seven-speed Lineartronic CVT gearbox. Subaru say the new model’s torsional rigidity is 70 percent better than that of its predecessor and that body roll has been reduced by 50 percent, while steering, pedal feedback, cornering and straight-line stability have all been refined.

Confirming its off-road abilities, the vehicle is fitted with X-Mode, designed to increase drivability on slippery surfaces by optimising control of the engine, all-wheel drive and braking systems, plus a Hill Descent Control system.

The Subaru XV’s greatest bragging rights would be its EyeSight Driver Assistance System, which offers four separate functions designed to prevent crashes caused by driver error or fatigue.

It detects potential hazards up to 110m in front of the Subaru.

It can activate Pre-Collision Braking, Pre-Collision Throttle Management , Lane Departure Warning, Adaptive Cruise Control and Reverse Automatic Braking features.

Additional safety features include LED Steering Responsive Headlights, Rear, Side and Blind Spot Vehicle Detection, Lane Change Assist and Rear Cross Traffic Alert. Inside, one’s eyes are immediately drawn to a large StarLink LCD screen which allows access to stuff like TomTom navigation software, Smartphones. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, while Google Now and Siri Eyes Free allow drivers to direct functions using their voice.

The tilt and telescopically adjustable leather steering wheel features the audio, cruise control and mobile phone controls. Completing the picture are comfortable seats – buckets front and bench rear, boasting seat ventilation, plus a brilliantly efficient air-conditioning system.

Driving the Subaru XV was, at first, disappointing. It is not fast in any way, with the body seemingly too heavy for the 115kW of power. You have to rev the engine without mercy to give the vehicle a sense of urgency, and it would go gear-hunting when encountering uphills on the highway.

That having been said, the car was easy to drive, with the steering direct, the brakes hugely efficient, the view from one’s high driving perch excellent, and all the electronic safety gizmos ensuring mistake-free progress.

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Eventually, we relaxed, concluded that not all Subarus have to be rocket ships, and acknowledged the vehicle for what it is – a superbly engineered, comfortable and safe SUV.

We did not take the test vehicle off-roading. But, we have no reasons to doubt Subaru’s claims about its prowess in the slippery dirt. We made no efforts to drive the test vehicle economically, and an average fuel consumption figure of 9.8 litres per 100km was impressive.

Somebody with a lighter foot will doubtlessly fare better. The Subaru XV 2.0i-S ES CVT will set you back R445 000, which price includes a five-year/150 000km warranty plus a threeyear / 75 000km Full Maintenance Plan.

 

 

 

 

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