Subaru XV

Impreza pulls on the gumboots

BARRY PARK

FIRST AUSSIE DRIVE THE WAKE of the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake wasnít a good time for Subaru to launch its long-awaited compact crossover. Hit with supply problems that limited sales early on, the original XV stood on shaky ground.

Itís good to see, then, that a second generation of the Imprezabased XV is built on a rock-solid footing; the all-new Subaru Global Platform. Thereís a lot thatís familiar from Impreza, particularly its roomy interior, but outside XV is a handsome mix of metal, chrome and black cladding.

Weight has increased over the previous generation, though all variants receive the off-roadbiased X-Mode system from the Forester that electronically diverts torque to the wheels with most traction in slippery conditions, as well as hill descent control. Both work well, if noisily in the case of the latter.

On dirt, the XV is confident and sure-footed. Our run from Jindabyne in the Snowys down to the coastal resort of Merimbula involved a large run on unsealed roads where the XV felt solid and planted, even when a kangaroo jumped out in front.

On the larger 18in alloys clad in Bridgestone Dueller H/P Sport rubber fitted to our 2.0i-S, the suspension occasionally crashed over larger washouts and bumps despite the extra travel afforded by 220mm of clearance. The Symmetrical All Wheel Drive system, as the name implies, never feels front- or rear-biased, but instead splits the torque evenly to each end.

The XVís suspension is slightly more compliant on the smaller 17-inch wheels fitted to the entrylevel 2.0i (and shared with the 2.0i-L), but the eco-focussed Yokohama BlueEarth rubber they use is noisier on the bitumen than the Bridgestones.

That healthy dose of off-road surefootedness translates to the bitumen where, just like the Impreza, the XV impresses.

Bodyroll is well contained via struts up front and double A-arms down the back. Standard torque vectoring sits the XV at the pointy end of the dynamics class.

Itís a shame all that ability isnít backed up with some extra intensity under the bonnet. Every XV uses Subaruís 2.0-litre atmo four and while direct injection has upped power 5kW to 115kW, torque remains at just 196Nm.

Thereís no manual option, with a CVT the only choice. It makes the most of the engineís mediocre performance, but straight-line acceleration is best described as stately rather than sprightly.

Subaru has endowed the new XV with something resembling a spirit of adventure. Itís something of a shame, then, that it didnít also gain some fire in its belly. tedness

Crossing the ĎtSí

Subaru hasnít ruled out the idea of giving the XV a dose of tS treatment somewhere in the new modelís life. Subaru Pacific region sales and marketing manager Tomoya Kaneko told Wheels there was room in the program to allow for a more highly tuned version of the XV Ė if buyers asked for it. ďIf the [Australian] market wanted such a model, we would discuss this with [our] Japan-based engineering [team]Ē he said.

PLUS & MINUS

Better looks; active safety on pricier models; surefooted handling Chassis can handle more power; AEB isnít range-wide