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Subaru Levorg 2.0GT-S Spec-B 2016 review

EXPERT RATING
8
Tim Robson road tests and reviews the 2016 Subaru Levorg 2.0GT-S Spec-B with specs, fuel consumption and verdict.

Tim Robson road tests and reviews the 2016 Subaru Levorg 2.0GT-S Spec-B with specs, fuel consumption and verdict.

If you had predicted in the 1980s that Subaru would become synonymous with high-powered, affordable sports cars that would take on the likes of the Holden Commodore SS and Ford Falcon XR8, you would have been laughed out of the pub.

MORE: Read the full Subaru Levorg 2016 review

Subaru built its business on rugged, dependable small all-wheel-drive wagons and utes – but fast they certainly weren't.

With the advent of the turbocharged WRX in the 1990s, though, the perception of the brand changed forever – and it's a change that follows it through everything it makes, even to this day. "Where's the WRX version?" cry the punters when a new car is launched. "When's the STi version coming?"

Often it makes little commercial sense to offer hot-rodded versions of a particular vehicle, but in some cases, a mild lean in that direction is well warranted.

The new Impreza-based Levorg wagon isn't a direct replacement for the WRX hatch or the much-loved Liberty GT, but Subaru has bowed to customer demand and produced a slightly warmed over version of its new turbocharged load lugger called the GT-S Spec B

Price and features

The GT-S Spec-B tops a three-model Levorg lineup at $52,890 before on-road costs; it's a $4000 jump over the GT-S. It's also fitted with the 197kW/350Nm horizontally-opposed piston (or boxer) turbo engine that's in the WRX, along with permanent all-wheel-drive and a continuously variable transmission (the only gearbox option).

A leather interior, Subaru's excellent third-generation EyeSight stereo camera detection system and a 7.0-inch multimedia system with satellite navigation and phone app interface, and reversing camera come standard, along with tinted rear glass and keyless entry. It also gets automatic lights and wipers.

It's not as tough or as macho as the WRX, which helps to give the Levorg its own space on the showroom floor.

The Spec B designation means the Levorg scores a set of German-made Bilstein shocks mated to the same springs as the standard GT-S, along with a set of black STi-badged 18-inch alloys and an STi-badged bodykit.

Option packs are limited to a towbar set-up that retails for around $1528 fitted, or a trim and mat set for $629. No extra is charged for paint choices.

Design

From the B-pillars forward, the Levorg is instantly recognisable as an Impreza, with strong hints of WRX around the front end thanks to that intercooler-feeding bonnet vent and projecter headlights.

From the rear doors back, though, the Levorg is new. Its body style is unique in Subaru's catalogue, and harks back to the fourth-gen Liberty, at least in its proportions.

It's not as bluff as the brand's others wagons like the Outback and Forester, with a distinct downward slope towards the rear tailgate. Its high-waisted, low-roof profile is made lower and sportier with the STi side skirts and a lowered stance.

By necessity, the Levorg and the Impreza share many interior features, but the wagon certainly doesn't feel like a direct copy.

It's not as tough or as macho as the WRX, though, which helps to give the Levorg its own space on the showroom floor.

Subaru suggests that the Levorg is a toe-in-the-water exercise; it arrived very late in the current Impreza's life cycle, and sales success will determine whether Subaru builds another version atop its new global platform that debuts under the new Impreza late in 2016.

Practicality

By necessity, the Levorg and the Impreza share many interior features, but the wagon certainly doesn't feel like a direct copy.

The cargo space holds 486 litres with the seats up – more than its Forester stablemate by 64 litres. It's bigger, incidentally, than that well-regarded fourth-gen Liberty wagon, despite being a physically smaller car.

The space increases to 1446 litres when the 60/40 split/fold seats are lowered. There are tie-down points and a 12v socket in the rear, along with flip-down switches for the rear seat backs

The front seats in the GT-S are more bolstered and supportive than those in the base model GT, which is a welcome addition. They are also heated and electrically powered.

A removable plastic barrier divides the two front cup holders, and there is also a pair of cup holders in the centre rear armrest. One-litre bottles can also be stashed in the doors front and rear.

There are a few not-so clever touches, though, including a myriad of controls on the steering wheel that could easily be reduced. The mulitmedia system, too, is starting to show its age, even though it offers access to apps like Pandora.

Another irritation is the roof-mounted sash belt for the rear centre seat.

There are ISOFIX child seat mounts for the outside rear seats, and a cargo blind for the rear area is included. A run-flat spare lives under the boot floor, too.

Engine and transmission

Subaru's renowned 2.0-litre boxer turbocharged engine is used in the Levorg, and is offered in the same tune and spec as fitted to the company's WRX.

This means 197kW of power and 350Nm of torque, mated to a multi-mode throttle control known as Si Drive. Controlled by (oddly) two buttons on the steering wheel spoke, it allows the driver to soften or sharpen the engine's response underfoot as required.

CVTs have garnered a bad reputation for dulling the driving experience, but drive this one before you dismiss the notion out of hand.

Of the three modes on offer, the middle 'S' mode is the sweet spot, giving the Levorg a little more pep off the lights without making it feel too sharp.

The CVT gearbox sports an eight-step 'manual' mode that can be operated via paddles behind the wheel. CVTs have garnered a bad reputation for dulling the driving experience, but drive this one before you dismiss the notion out of hand; it's well behaved, quiet and complements the car's intended purpose well.

Driving

The base Levorg GT's suspension tune has been criticised by many as not offering enough support via its dampers, and the well-regarded Bilstein replacements answer most – though not all – of these concerns

It doesn't turn the GT-S into a hunkered-down, stiff-riding racecar (useless fact; the Levorg is actually raced in the British Touring Car Championship). Instead, it takes the supple, relaxed gait of the Levorg and adds more sophistication and control to its body movements.

The Levorg's plentiful torque gives it a real advantage in the real world, with plenty of passing power on tap when needed.

There's still not quite enough control in the shocks when the car is bouncing back from a bump, though, which can result in the car not settling straight away. It's calmer with extra bodies and gear aboard, though.

The Levorg's plentiful torque gives it a real advantage in the real world, with plenty of passing power on tap when needed, while its all-wheel-drive system provides a genuine advantage when conditions turn feral.

The gap in performance between front- and all-wheel-drive set ups is narrowing given the sophistication of modern stability and traction control systems, but it's nice to have more control on wet and treacherous conditions.

Despite its WRX heritage, the Levorg GT-S is absolutely not a hotrod disguised as a station wagon. It's been conceived as a daily driver with punch and practicality, and the Levorg really hits this brief well.

Fuel consumption

The Levorg GT-S can achieve a fuel economy figure of 8.7L/100km on the combined cycle, according to Subaru. Our 420km of testing netted a dashboard-indicated 9.6L/100km.

Safety

The EyeSight camera system is the Levorg's big safety feature, and it includes automatic emergency braking, brake light recognition, pre-collision steering assist, adaptive cruise control and lane departure warning.

Lane sway warning, lead vehicle start alert, pre-collision braking system, pre-collision brake assist and even pre-collision throttle management are also built into a single system that operates via a pair of cameras at the top of the windscreen.

It can be more finicky than other systems, and can be momentarily fooled by a dirty windscreen in direct sun. This third generation version is far more refined, robust and sophisticated than the earlier versions, though.

Six airbags, including full-length curtain airbags, are standard.

Ownership

Subaru has a three-year, unlimited kilometre warranty on the Levorg, and occasionally adds another two years as a special offer; it's definitely worth asking your dealer about it.

The service 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 around $375 per service, which includes labour, parts and fluids, and even fees like oil disposal levies.

Verdict

The Levorg GT-S Spec-B offers more of the sporting side of Subaru's heritage, without changing the fundamentally relaxed and mature nature of the wagon. It's sufficiently powerful, very comfortable and very practical, and well priced to boot.

Is the GT-S Spec-B the Levorg you'd have? Tell us what you think in the comments below.

Click here to see more 2016 Subaru Levorg 2.0GT-S pricing and spec info.

Pricing Guides

$33,888
Based on 47 cars listed for sale in the last 6 months
Lowest Price
$25,990
Highest Price
$36,000

Range and Specs

VehicleSpecsPrice*
2.0GT 2.0L, PULP, CVT AUTO $25,990 – 30,785 2016 Subaru Levorg 2016 2.0GT Pricing and Specs
2.0GT-S 2.0L, PULP, CVT AUTO $31,990 – 36,000 2016 Subaru Levorg 2016 2.0GT-S Pricing and Specs
EXPERT RATING
8
Tim Robson
Contributing Journalist

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Pricing Guide

$29,888

Lowest price, based on 38 car listings in the last 6 months

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