Holden Astra 2017 review
There are those who like hatchbacks, and those who prefer sedans. Whichever way you lean, Holden hopes it has something to please you with hatch and sedan versions of its Astra small car.
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Subaru has gone back to the drawing board with its slow-selling Levorg wagon, revitalising the line-up to include a version that sports a new-to-the-brand 1.6-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine.
The new 1.6GT has the added effect of opening up the Levorg range to more buyers, too, by kicking the range off at a lower price point of $35,990. Will it give the Levorg a new lease on life?
|Subaru Levorg 2017: 1.6 GT|
|Engine Type||1.6L turbo|
|Fuel Type||Premium Unleaded Petrol|
It’s an interesting one, the Levorg. From the front it’s all Impreza and WRX, with the prominent bonnet scoop. The front end has been lightly tweaked for the new upgrade, but it’s still obvious which car the Levorg has morphed from.
The rear end is different, of course, and it’s something that seems to appeal to the eye of the beholder. It’s quite prominent and almost bulbous from some angles, yet looked at from other directions, it’s very resolved and flowing.
We’re not fans of the large overhangs – the distance between the wheels and the outer edges of the bumpers – and its high-waisted, flush sides can make the alloys disappear a little into the fenders. The low ride height, though, is always a good look.
In terms of interior practicality, the front of the car mimics the last generation Impreza pretty faithfully, with a few unique touches.
The two-tone fabric seats are very comfortable even on long trips and are mounted quite low in the car. As a result, there's plenty of headroom up front as well as in the rear. Back-seat passengers enjoy a good amount of leg room.
There are bottle holders in all four doors as well as two cup holders up front and two more in the fold-out centre arm rest in the 60/20/20 split/fold rear seat.
Those seats can be tumbled forward via switches just inside the tailgate, too, which is useful. It's quite a large cargo area with the seats up and even more so with them down.
The load area increases to 1446 litres when the rear seats are dropped. There are four tie-down points and a 12-volt socket in the rear section.
The Levorg’s rear suspension design means that there’s a wide aperture for awkward loads, but it does have that knock on compromise of affecting the car's handling that we’ll talk about in a second.
It’s nice to see a pair of USB ports for rear passengers. There’s also a USB port in the centre console bin as well as in the storage area under the centre of the dash.
The space under the dash can fit the largest of smart phones, and the tall pocketed dividers in the door allow more storage; although they are quite shallow.
Criticisms? There are too many controls on the steering wheel that could easily be reduced. Another annoyance is the roof-mounted sash belt for the rear centre seat, which looks untidy and is a pain to latch and unlatch.
The Levorg is a decently sized load lugger, whose natural competitors include the Skoda Octavia wagon series and the slightly smaller Volkswagen Golf wagon, as well as cars like the incoming Holden Astra wagon.
For an entry-grade car, the specs are pretty impressive. For four grand under $40,000, you get all-wheel drive, 17-inch alloys, dual-zone air conditioning. automatic LED headlights, automatic wipers and a multi-stage sport-setting button known as Intelligent Drive, which gives you two different throttle maps via switches on the steering wheel.
There’s also a colour multimedia screen that’s complemented by a small TFT screen above that displays vehicle info like fuel economy to the driver.
It’s also got automatic wipers, a leather-clad steering wheel, alloy pedals, paddle shifters, a dual-tone cloth interior and LED daytime running lamps.
Subaru's comprehensive EyeSight safety system includes AEB, lane-departure assist, adaptive cruise and rear cross traffic alert check, and we're happy to see that this system is offered in the base model.
Sadly, however, there's no sat nav offered as standard,
It's something of a surprise that Subaru Australia has specced the Levorg with its smallest capacity engine in a long time, and the first of this size to be turbocharged for the brand. It's a 1.6-litre single turbocharged four-cylinder unit that's backed by a continuously variable transmission.
The relative tiddler makes 125kW and 250Nm of torque, although it honestly feels gruntier than the numbers suggest. The key element is how that torque is made low down in the rev range.
It has plenty of urge to keep the Levorg up with traffic and matches well with the CVT transmission, which can be used in faux manual mode but is best left to its own devices. Like most other modern Subaru models, a manual gearbox is no longer an option.
By way of comparison, the 1.6 is slower than the 2.0-litre turbo equipped Levorg from 0-100km/h by more than two seconds (8.9sec to 6.6sec), but it honestly doesn't feel like that big of a deficit in everyday situations.
It's worth noting that the Levorg 1.6GT can only tow 800kg max, even with a braked trailer on the back. The 2.0-litre can drag up to 1500kg behind it.
The smaller 1.6-litre engine is more frugal than the larger 2.0-litre car, with a claimed combined average of 7.4 litres per 100km, which is a 1.3L/100km improvement.
Over 320km, we recorded a dash-measured average of a flat 8.0 L/100km.
Be aware that the Subaru prefers its 60-litre tank topped off with 95 octane fuel as a minimum. It has a theoretical tank range of about 810km.
The Levorg was a late addition to the Impreza fleet, and it has suffered a little as a result; most significantly in the area of its suspension tune. Put simply, in order to give the rear of the car enough cargo space, engineers had to modify the suspension, to make it shorter, in turn making less travel.
There have been running changes to suspension settings for the 2017 model, and by and large they have made a difference to the way the base level Levorg rides and handles.
The GT doesn't feature expensive dampers like the upper-level Levorgs, but it does comes with 17-inch rims as standard, with a high profile tyre. And it’s this spec that changes the ride of the Levorg for the better.
It doesn't feel as tied down or as taut as its more expensive siblings, and it can handle the smaller bumps and lumps of urban and city roads more comfortably.
There’s still a good deal of pitch (when the nose of the car drops) and there’s still not a lot of tolerance for bigger bumps, but it is more bearable than more expensive Levorgs.
There's plenty of mechanical grip available, too, from the all-wheel-drive system, which Subaru has long hung its hat on. It does add weight and complexity, but it also adds a sure-footed level of behaviour in all weathers.
The smaller engine isn’t exactly a powerhouse, but it makes the most of what it has by serving up the majority of its torque in a very useable range. The Levorg accelerates away from rest more than adequately, and can maintain its pace at national limit speeds without qualm.
It needs a bit of coaxing in steep terrain when it’s loaded with four people, but all told the 1.6 is a strong little unit.
Road noise is well contained, too, and the Levorg is generally comfortable and quiet in the cut and thrust of urban driving.
3 years / unlimited km warranty
ANCAP Safety Rating
The EyeSight system is worth the price of admission, offering a comprehensive array of driver-aid tech that’s easy to use and for the most part quite unobtrusive.
Along with a full complement of airbags and high-strength steel in the body, the Levorg has earned a maximum five-star score from ANCAP.
Subaru offers a three-year, unlimited-kilometre warranty on the Levorg range, but the company occasionally throws in another two years as a special offer; it’s worth asking your dealer about it.
At six months or 12,500km, the service time interval on a Subaru is shorter than most other cars, thanks to the boxer engine requiring more frequent oil changes.
A six-visit capped-price servicing regime for the Levorg averages out at about $375 per visit, which includes labour, fluids and parts.
Sometimes the cheaper things in life are actually better. In this case, Subaru's base level Levorg wagon outshines its more expensive brethren, especially in the area of ride and handling.
With its more rudimentary suspension and taller-profile tyres, the Levorg GT manages to cure a lot of the platform’s ills, revealing a practical, unusual wagon with the assurance of all-wheel drive and a clever, punchy, little 1.6 turbo engine that's more economical as well.
|1.6 GT||1.6L, PULP, CVT AUTO||$20,300 – 27,610||2017 Subaru Levorg 2017 1.6 GT Pricing and Specs|
|1.6 GT Premium||1.6L, PULP, CVT AUTO||$24,200 – 32,890||2017 Subaru Levorg 2017 1.6 GT Premium Pricing and Specs|
|2.0 STI Sport||2.0L, PULP, CVT AUTO||$30,400 – 39,820||2017 Subaru Levorg 2017 2.0 STI Sport Pricing and Specs|
|2.0GT||2.0L, PULP, CVT AUTO||$27,600 – 36,520||2017 Subaru Levorg 2017 2.0GT Pricing and Specs|
|Price and features||8|
|Engine & trans||8|