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2017 Subaru XV unveiled in Geneva

Subaru has unveiled its new Impreza-based XV baby SUV at the Geneva motor show and readied it for a mid-year Australian delivery.

The second-generation XV inherits Subaru’s new modular platform - aptly named Subaru Global Platform - that has already been lauded in the latest Impreza for its rigidity, leading to impressive handling and ride comfort.

It will also share the updated 2.0-litre boxer engine, continuously variable transmission (CVT) and signature all-wheel drive (AWD) system, but arrive in a completely new SUV-oriented body and with the Impreza’s latest multimedia features.

The boxer engine has been improved with direct fuel injection and internal upgrades, which lifts power by 5kW to 115kW. Torque output remains at 196Nm.

Externally the new XV is barely changed from its 2016 concept reveal, with a more flowing body shape and bolder nose that ties it to the Impreza sedan.

Subaru will retain the XV’s off-road ability.

Though heavily based on the style of the Impreza, the XV stands up - literally - with its taller ride height, matte-black cladding around the lower body and wheel arches, big 18-inch alloy wheels and roof rails.

It is longer and wider than before, sitting on the Impeza’s 2670mm wheelbase (up 35mm on the outgoing XV), and with a width up 20mm to 1800mm. The height is unchanged at 1615mm and the ground clearance remains at 220mm.

Further specifications are unavailable but boot space is said to be greatly improved on the current model’s modest 380 litres.

The company also claims the new-gen XV has crash impact absorption 40 per cent better than the outgoing model, attributed to the use of more high-strength steel.

Subaru says to improve occupant entry and egress, the seat height has been reduced by 5mm and this adjustment - together with the design of the new platform - lowers the car’s centre of gravity to assist handling prowess.

The handling is also assisted by swaybars now fitted more directly to the body to reduce bodyroll by up to 50 per cent, while a more direct steering ratio and active torque vectoring gives more accurate response through corners.

Subaru will retain the XV’s off-road ability despite many rivals in the compact SUV sector moving away from off-bitumen capability.

It has a 220mm ground clearance that is the best in its class, permanent AWD and is expected to arrive in Australia with the clever X-Mode off-road drive system that is used in the bigger Forester model.

The XV will only be available with the CVT which is just as well - it is the only transmission that interacts with the X-Mode system.

Subaru has moved to expand the reach of its auto emergency braking and adaptive cruise system known as EyeSight with the feature expected in all Australian XV variants.

In other safety items, the XV was shown in European-spec at Geneva with automatic high-beam control, cornering headlights, blind spot warning, lane change assist and rear cross-traffic alert.

Cabin treatment carries over from the Impreza, with an 8.0-inch touchscreen, electric park brake to free up storage space, push-button start and dual-zone air conditioning.

However, the more off-road specified XV at the show picks up unique trim including orange contrast dash and seat stitching and grey upholstery for the more heavily bolstered seats.

The XV will compete with the segment leader, the Mazda CX-3; the recently-launched Toyota C-HR; Mitsubishi's perennial ASX; the Honda HR-V; and Peugeot’s second-generation 2008 that was launched last month.

Subaru report that the run-out first-gen XV has been selling at an average of 550 units a month. This compares the CX-3 at 1500 a month and the ASX with 1100.

Will Subaru’s new XV change your mind about buying a compact SUV? Tell us what you think in the comments below.

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