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Car reviews - Subaru - XV - 5-dr hatch

Launch Story

Subaru logo25 Jan 2012

By BYRON MATHIOUDAKIS

SUBARU’S second XV crossover series is now on sale in Australia – for the first time anywhere in the world – arriving earlier than expected, beating the sister Impreza to market by a few weeks.

It arrives with a five-star ANCAP rating and is priced right in the compact SUV heartland, kicking off from $28,490 – a $1000 jump over the superseded version that was only launched here in June 2010.

The high-riding G4X-series XV loses the Impreza prefix but gains its own identity, as evidenced in the different headlights, grille, bumpers and tail-lights compared to the upcoming G4-series Impreza small hatchback.

With the roof, bonnet and doors as the only shared exterior components, Subaru has branded the XV as a stand-alone model.

Its body is distinguished by black plastic protective wheel-arch and rocker panel mouldings, roof rails and unique 17-inch black alloy wheels.

Switchable idle-stop – called Auto Start Stop by Subaru – is standard across the range. It stops the engine 0.5 seconds after the car stops and restarts it 0.35s after the brake or clutch pedal is released.

Like all Subarus in Australia bar the upcoming BRZ coupe, the XV is an all-wheel drive-only proposition for now.

It is approximately $2500 cheaper than the AWD versions of the conceptually similar Nissan Dualis, Mitsubishi ASX, Kia Sportage and Hyundai ix35 – though their front-drive counterparts comfortably undercut it by similar margins.

Only the newly facelifted Jeep Compass offers AWD for identical money in the compact SUV class (if you discount the significantly smaller and cheaper Suzuki SX4).

The XV is powered by a new-generation 2.0-litre horizontally opposed four-cylinder petrol engine also destined for the Impreza, delivering 110kW of power at 6200rpm and 196Nm of torque at 4200rpm.

From the same Euro-IV FB family of ‘Boxer’ engines that debuted in the Forester facelift in early 2011, it boasts lightweight parts and materials for more efficient operation, as well as variable valve timing on both inlet and exhaust valves.

The adoption of electric power steering and better airflow management around and underneath the car also contribute to fuel consumption savings.

In the case of the models fitted with Subaru’s Lineartronic continuously variable transmission, which replaces the outmoded four-speed automatic found in the previous model, the drop is in the region of 20 per cent, with a combined average of 7.0L/100k, while the new six-speed manual gearbox (replacing the previous five-speed) manages 7.3L/100km.

However, these are approximately 0.3L/100km worse than what the Impreza will deliver.

Carbon dioxide emissions are also lower at 162g/km for the CVT and 168g/km for the manual.

Other noteworthy XV items include improved vision thanks to repositioned pillars, softer interior surfaces, a multi-function display designed to encourage more efficient driving, door-mounted exterior mirrors, broad-spread headlight performance, seven airbags, vehicle dynamics control and a reversing camera, all as standard.

The safety gear helps it score a five-star ANCAP crash-test rating.

Subaru concentrated on improving cabin space compared to the old Impreza, so the wheelbase is longer at 2635mm, the dashboard has been redesigned to be less intrusive, the rear seatbacks now have an inverted curve, there is a flatter floor, and more room beneath the front seats for larger-footed rear seat passengers.

Overall length increases by 35mm to 4450mm while other key dimensions are 1780mm width, 1615mm height and 220mm ground clearance.

The XV is said to have a lower centre of gravity than key rivals, wider doors make for easier entry and egress, and kerb weight ranges from 1390kg.

Suspension is via MacPherson struts up front and an independent double-wishbone arrangement in the rear. The front anti-roll bar is now 2mm thicker at 22mm and high-response valves are fitted to the rear shock absorbers.

Disc brakes feature all round and the XV’s braked towing capacity is 1400kg, or 750kg without trailer brakes.

The AWD system in CVT models employ a multi-plate torque transfer device that can vary front-rear distribution as traction needs prevail. Manual-equipped models use a mechanical centre viscous limited-slip differential for a 50:50 split.

At only 310 litres, the cargo area is not only 30 litres less than the Impreza hatch, but 100 litres less than the rival Dualis.

Subaru claims that cutting noise and vibration paths was a big priority, so it developed a stronger and stiffer body, a ring-shaped frame around the passenger cell, additional engine bay and cabin insulating material (especially in CVT-equipped models), quieter drivetrains and fluid-filled engine mounts.

In addition to idle-stop and the full suite of active and passive safety systems, the base car includes hill-hold assist, automatic air-conditioning, cruise control and 17-inch alloy wheels. CVT is a $2500 option and comes with paddle shifters.

The 2.0i-L, priced from $31,990, adds dual-zone air-conditioning, satellite-navigation, sunroof, leather steering wheel and gearknob, a sliding centre console and rear privacy glass.

Buyers of the 2.0i-S (from $34,490) get leather upholstery, an electronically adjustable driver’s seat, heated front seats, high-intensity-discharge headlights with washers, a rear-illumination speedo and wing mirror indicators.

Subaru hopes to sell around 500 XVs per month, a six-fold increase over the previous edition, which managed an average of only 80 a month.

Although a turbo-diesel engine is in the pipeline for European markets, it is not clear if that will make it to Australia.

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