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Driven: Subaru XV grows up

X-factor: Subaru is looking for more volume from the all new XV crossover, but supply constraints may hold it back.

Similar looks, but new Subaru XV takes a big step forward in every way


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23 Jun 2017

SUBARU Australia admits its new-generation XV small SUV may well catch and pass the car upon which it’s based, the Impreza, if supply allows due to Australia’s increased demand for crossovers.

Managing director of Subaru Colin Christie has predicted a 25 per cent increase in sales for the new version of the XV, which equates to around 1000 units per month.

“The segment's grown significantly and, with all things, as models age and new competitors come in, the sales rate tend to slow a bit,” he told GoAuto. “I think, just generally from market opportunity and the fact it's a new model, we expect to see sales growth.”

By way of comparison, the segment-leading Mazda CX-3 currently sells on average 1500 units a month, with the ageing Mitsubishi ASX not far behind it.

When asked if the XV could do better than the company’s predictions, Mr Christie suggested that the Australian arm is being hamstrung by worldwide demand, and that the XV offers a different proposition than some of the segment-leading cars.

“I think the reality is that some of the other models have two-wheel drive and cheaper entry price points than we do,” he said. “There's a proportion of the market that's interested in that sort of product.

“The other thing for us is that production is, to be honest, going to be reasonably restricted. We're confident we can get around a thousand, maybe slightly more units per month out of the factory, but overall our production has been, for the last two or three years, has been rather tight across the board.”

Mr Christie acknowledged that the expanding small SUV market segment may allow the XV to overtake the Impreza sedan in popularity, but production restrictions may hamstring both cars.

“The order bank for Impreza, has been extremely strong,” he said. “In fact, we still don't have enough stock. We've been playing catch-up on stock since we launched the car, so we've still got a reasonable amount of back orders for the Impreza.

“Do I see it (XV) overtaking (Impreza)? I'd love to think that Impreza could do more than a thousand (per month), but production … will be a bit of a restriction for us.”

The Impreza sold 1112 units in May, with 5161 registrations for the year to date.

The XV is now based on the same Subaru Global Platform architecture as the Impreza, and also shares its updated 2.0-litre naturally aspirated engine and continuously-variable transmission (CVT) combination.

The engine makes 5kW more than before at 115kW, while the 196Nm torque figure is spread across a wider, flatter curve. Almost every component of the engine has been modified, with Subaru claiming a 12kg weight reduction.

Claimed combined fuel economy is 7.0 litres per 100km.

While its entry price of the base 2.0i variant is now technically $1500 higher than the outgoing model at $27,990 before on-roads, the deletion of any manual option for the XV sees the 2.0i effectively drop in price by $1200.

The second-generation XV launches in Australia in four grades, including the aforementioned entry-level 2.0i, the 2.0i-L at $30,340, the 2.0i Premium at $32,140 and the range topping 2.0i-S at $35,240.

All four grades are offered with the same drivetrain a 2.0-litre naturally aspirated four-cylinder boxer petrol engine backed by a seven-step CVT driving an all-wheel-drive system.

The XV also now comes with the same X-Mode off-road system that is used on the larger Forester, which adds a hill descent mode in both forward and reverse, as well as pseudo-low range gearing, more active limited-slip diff and a locked 50/50 torque split.

Subaru claims that the five-door, five-seat XV is 95 per cent different to the similar looking first-generation car, with updated front and rear bumpers and valances, as well as new headlight and tail-light arrays.

It is built on top of Subaru’s new universal platform, which is claimed to offer between 70 and 100 per cent increases in lateral, torsional, front suspension and rear sub frame rigidity than the outgoing platform.

It gets 26mm more rear legroom and a 100mm wider cargo area than the last car.

The XV's maximum width of 2019mm from mirror-to-mirror hasn't changed, but the actual car is wider by 20mm at 1800mm, which reflect the measurements of the Impreza.

The 2.0i comes standard with 17-inch alloys, foglights, reversing camera, electronic park brake, smart key with push button start and a 6.5-inch multimedia screen that has Apple CarPlay and Android Auto functionality.

A larger 8.0-inch multimedia screen, Subaru’s comprehensive EyeSight camera-based driver aid system, dual zone air and upgraded interior trim marks the step up to the 2.0i-L, while the 2.0i Premium adds a sunroof and satellite navigation.

The EyeSight system includes autonomous emergency braking, lane departure alert and assistance, pre-collision throttle management and adaptive cruise control.

However, the EyeSight safety system is not currently offered in the 2.0i, but Mr Christie said it is likely to be added going forward, adding that the base model makes up about 10 per cent of the range mix.

“We've got a pretty good track record, over time, of starting these new technologies in the higher spec cars, and then, progressing them down,” he said.

While the XV currently holds an ANCAP five-star rating, all cars in the range will need to have AEB as standard in order to qualify for a top result.

The range-topping 2.0i-L adds 18-inch rims fitted with Bridgestone tyres, adaptive LED headlights, leather upholstery, heated front seats, heated side mirrors, automatic windscreen wipers and an upgraded EyeSight system that adds rear cross traffic alert and rear AEB.

XV sales for 2017 currently stand at 2432, though Subaru claims to have pre-sold up to 1000 of the second-generation cars to the end of June.

This is more than 28 per cent lower than the figure for the same time last year. The category leading Mazda CX-3, by way of comparison, has sold more than 7200 units to the end of May, and the Mitsubishi ASX has moved 6792.

2017 Subaru XV pricing*
2.0i (a)$27,990
2.0i-L (a)$30,340
2.0i Premium (a)$32,140
2.0i-S (a)$35,240
*Excludes on-road costs

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