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Geneva show: Subaru’s XV steps out – and up

Generational change: Subaru’s XV compact SUV sits on the company’s critically acclaimed modular global platform that made its debut on the freshly launched Impreza.

Subaru’s modular platform ready to transform its XV compact SUV too


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8 Mar 2017

SUBARU’S all-new XV compact SUV is set to gain all the good bits from the Japanese company’s new-generation Impreza – plus more – when it arrives in Australia in the middle of this year.

Revealed in full overnight at the Geneva motor show, the second-generation XV will be built on the same new modular Subaru Global Platform as the Impreza while also sharing the latest 2.0-litre normally aspirated four-cylinder boxer engine and continuously variable transmission (CVT) – a combination that is quickly winning friends for Impreza in Australia.

Although specifications for the Australian XV are yet to be revealed, we fully expect it to get the so-called X-Mode off-road version of Subaru’s symmetrical all-wheel-drive system poached from the larger Forester.

Other differences from Impreza include a taller ride height, roof rails, matt-black plastic cladding around the lower body – including the front bumper, side sills and wheelarches – and unique rear bumper treatment, rear roof spoiler and meaty 18-inch alloy wheels.

Like Impreza which arrived in Australian showrooms just before Christmas, the five-door XV hatch will be offered exclusively with the CVT, as the manual transmission has been deleted due partly to lack of interest (just a five per cent buyer take-up) and the lack of a new-generation manual cog-swapper available at Subaru.

Anyway, the CVT is more fuel efficient, and offers a seven-speed manual mode for drivers inclined to shift cogs themselves.

The X-Mode function adds hill-descent control for off-road driving while also optimising powertrain functions for better control on slippery surfaces.

Now boasting direct injection and other new bits, the engine produces 115kW (+5kW), but torque remains the same at 196Nm.

Again like the Impreza, the latest XV sits on a longer 2670mm (+35mm) wheelbase, while width grows to 1800mm (+20mm). Overall height is the same as before at 1615mm, while ground clearance likewise is unchanged at 220mm.

The new body is said to be 70 per cent more rigid than before, thanks to the new platform that will spread across the Subaru range.

Another benefit is a stronger chassis and a lower centre of gravity that sits 5mm below that of the previous generation, while noise and vibration has been “greatly reduced”.

Crash impact absorption is said to have been improved 40 per cent, mainly due to increased use of high-strength steel, while bodyroll has been cut 50 per cent due to stabilisers mounted directly on the body.

The steering gear is now more direct, at 13:1, while active torque vectoring adds to the sharp driving feel in corners.

Top-end variants will get Subaru’s EyeSight anti-collision technology, as well as adaptive cruise control and lane keeping assist.

Headlights not only get automatic headlight high beam control but steering response, turning in the direction of the car when cornering. Blind spot warning, lane change assist and rear vehicle alert are also available in XV for the first time.

Inside, the redesign includes an instrument panel dominated by an 8.0-inch touchscreen carried over from Impreza, but unique touches include orange contrast stitching on the dash and grey upholstery on the resculpted seats to “enhance XV’s active character”.

Centre console space is freed up by switching to an electronic parking brake.

The new XV will arrive mid-year to take up the battle against rivals such as the class-leading Mazda CX-3, Mitsubishi ASX, Honda HR-V and new-to-the-market Toyota C-HR.

So far this year, the runout XV has been averaging about 550 sales a month, compared with the CX-3’s 1500 a month and ASX’s 1100.

The small SUV segment has been one of the boom classes for the motor industry in Australia in recent years, but this year it has come off the boil, down 9.2 per cent to the end of February.

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